By Tayler Shaw (Jour, Span’21)
Standing beneath the album-decorated ceiling in the recording studio of Radio 1190, excitement and nerves arise as high school junior Kendall Stark leans closer to the microphone. With the click of a button by CMCI Instructor and Radio 1190 General Manager Jared Browsh, Stark is suddenly live on air.
“You’re listening to Radio 1190,” she says.
After Browsh clicks off the live microphone, the room erupts with cheers and applause. “Tens of thousands of people just heard that,” he tells Stark, who aspires to become a play-by-play sports broadcaster.
The trip to Radio 1190 was one of many highlights for those attending the Connections: CMCI Summer Academy, a week-long summer camp that gives high school students a preview of college life and introduces them to current students, staff and faculty.
Sponsored by CMCI’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), the academy was created to support and host historically underserved sophomore and junior high school students—especially those who may not know if college is the right fit for them.
“Even though we hope that you might come to the University of Colorado Boulder and maybe even join us in CMCI, what we really hope for is that your eyes are opened to the possibilities of being a college student,” CMCI Founding Dean Lori Bergen told participants during the virtual welcome ceremony. “We’d be happy if this experience plays a role in your decision to attend any college anywhere.”
After being delayed by the pandemic in 2020, the academy launched this year, led by Founding Director and Senior Instructor Sara Jamieson, Inclusive Excellence and Outreach Coordinator Dave Martinez and CMCI Peer Mentors Nic Tamayo, Kelsie Kerr and Jaeda Rodriguez.
This year’s cohort included eight rising high school sophomores and juniors, primarily from Colorado high schools, including Boulder High School, Empower Community High School and West High School.
For the first four days of the academy, the students participated in a series of virtual classes on podcasting, street photography, visual culture and affective map making—all taught by CMCI faculty.
For Anika Garr, a junior at Empower Community High School, one of the best sessions was on her passion, photography. Overall, Garr says, the academy was a fun and exciting experience that allowed her to make friends and explore her college options.
“I really want to get into fashion and then photography as well,” she says.
While the sessions were virtual, they remained interactive and project-based, with students taking breaks to practice their skills, such as making their own podcasts and sharing their street photography online.
“They tried to get you as involved as possible,” Stark says. “There was always something we were doing—like it wasn’t a lot of lecturing. It was kind of a hands-on experience.”
For their fifth and final day at the academy, students gathered on CU Boulder’s campus to tour facilities including Radio 1190 and the university’s CASE building, where CMCI students can access podcasting booths and a student workspace and newsroom. Students also visited Folsom Field, met with Executive Director of Pre-College Outreach and Engagement Christopher Pacheco and ate lunch in the center of campus at the University Memorial Center.
For the peer mentors, it was gratifying to see the students connect with one another and with the college.
“I hope that they realize how accessible college actually should be for everybody and just realize how not-scary professors are,” says Jaeda Rodriguez, a CMCI sophomore studying journalism.
Fellow journalism sophomore Nic Tamayo agrees, adding, “I also hope they take away the bragging rights, like ‘I took a week of classes with college professors.’ I think that’s really cool for them to have that experience and be a little more prepared when they’re doing their applications. They have connections here already.”
As the final day came to a close, the newfound friends hugged and shared bittersweet goodbyes, promising to keep in contact. It was a meaningful experience not only for the students, but also for the CMCI DEI team who saw the academy finally come to fruition.
“We are honored to have you as part of our team and we want to stay in touch,” Martinez told the students during the closing ceremony. “You’ve already started the connection, and that’s what we’re all about.”
The extent to which CMCI can implement additional programming to support a diverse, inclusive and equitable community will also depend on private donations.