Full Circle: From Students to Alumni
Education is a cycle that affects the lives of every individual in a community. It’s a system that can be strengthened by relationships and two-way communication. Brian Elizardi, Morgridge College of Education’s Director of Alumni, Career and Community Services and Higher Education alum, is doing just that – establishing an interrelated and interconnected system of students, community organizations, and alumni at Morgridge College of Education to bring the MCE experience full circle.
As part of every academic program at Morgridge College of Education, InContext experiences are required – in the form of an internship, apprenticeship, or practicum at a clinic, school or organization. “When I went through the program, they told me that I needed an internship, gave a few examples of what other students have done, and said ‘good luck’,” recalls Elizardi. “Now, we are focused on helping to create more opportunities through new partnerships and strengthening our current community partners to ensure our students get the valuable experience they need to augment their in class learning.”
InContext opportunities are mutually beneficial; they give students a real world application of their classroom learning, while giving community partners the benefit of working with talented, young professionals with fresh eyes and fresh minds. Elizardi elaborates, “We are establishing long-term relationships with community partners around the Denver Metro area that benefit our students and the organization. A goal of the college is to produce agents of change; so we look for partners that put our students in diverse situations that encourage growth.”
In addition to ramping up community partner relationships and InContext opportunities, Elizardi is helping develop a support system for MCE students and alumni to navigate through their careers and challenging experiences via workshops, career services, professional development, and 1:1 coaching. Elizardi explains, “Professional development services are often very broad. How you manage your career in education is very different than business or law. We want to provide ongoing value to our alumni and community partners in ways that work for them and to support their ongoing needs as educators, administrators, librarians, counselors, and researchers.”
MCE alumni also play a key role in helping the system run full circle. Brian states, “Once you graduate, you enter a new season with DU. Our alumni are valued partners in the MCE network; they can be some of best community partners – offering to supervise an intern, mentor a student, or connect MCE with their district or organization – giving back to the college in a way that benefits current and future students.”
Looking at the greater scheme of things, Elizardi notes, “The mutual relationships and networks that we are strengthening today, will continue to move and change our Denver communities for years to come. It’s a great time to be engaged in education. The world needs problem solvers.”