Notes of Impact Fall/Winter 2020

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YOUR LIFELONG LEARNING PARTNER The latest news from the University of Denver’s University College.

See how DU is responding to COVID-19 pg. 7 Gain insight into the impact of cybersecurity on you and your organization pg. 8



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To Our University College Community, The topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, among many others, is online education. Whether your kindergartener had their first day of school in a virtual classroom, or you’re an adult learner returning to school by way of an online degree program, online education is now everywhere. Of course, back when University College launched its first online program in 1996 that wasn’t the case. But now, 25 years later, the world has found itself in entirely new territory, trying to pivot in-person classes to a virtual format in a fairly short amount of time. As the world shifted gears, University College remained steady. Back in March, we seamlessly transitioned all of our courses to be delivered online. Luckily for us, we were able to quickly adjust! Today, as we continue to help promote the continued health and safety of our students and faculty, University College will deliver courses mostly online through the winter quarter. In times such as these, I’m grateful to our faculty and staff who contribute to delivering an exceptional student experience — whether those students are on campus at the University of Denver or logging in from afar. We have a dedicated Learning Experience Design Team that ensures each course is a high-quality experience. We have a professional development program for all of our faculty to keep them abreast of the latest pedagogy, technology, and inclusive teaching practices. We also serve as a resource to our colleagues across DU planning to deliver online education. Even the international community looks to University College for online learning expertise. This past summer, Molly Smith, academic director for the Organizational Leadership and Strategic Human Resources programs, and Allison O’Grady, assistant director of teaching and learning, laid out the foundations of online learning during a virtual presentation to faculty, administrators, and staff across two different campuses at La Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile. This is a terrific example of knowledge sharing and participation in the international scholar community. Of course, just like you, we’re always learning. Part of our role in delivering online education is continuous improvement, and we do that through active participation in leading associations dedicated to online and continuing education, listening to student feedback, and leveraging the latest technology advancements. The topic of online education is bound to evolve, and we’re thrilled to be part of that conversation. As a member of our community, you know the value of online education in providing access, and we hope you’ll share your experiences with others who may be unsure of this form of learning. When done well, online education is flexible, rewarding, and rigorous. I’m proud to lead a college at the cutting-edge and will continue to champion the impact of online education. Best, Michael McGuire Dean, University College



New Virtual Lounge for Veteran and Active Duty Military Students University College and Veterans Services at the University of Denver recently launched the Veteran Student Virtual Lounge, a dedicated, online space for veteran and active duty students and alumni to connect, access campus resources, and develop sustained relationships. “We value both their service and willingness to engage,” said David Rossi, enrollment manager and University College veteran liaison. “It's an ideal way to stay connected to DU and one another." 4

University College Student Drafted to National Lacrosse League Ethan Walker, student in the Communication Management program at University College, was recently drafted to the National Lacrosse League as the #10 overall pick by the Georgia Swarm. However, Ethan has unfinished business at DU and is choosing to remain in school to finish his master's degree and go for an NCAA Championship. We're rooting for you, Ethan!

DU Soars in Top College Rankings Ranking #80 out of 400 national universities, the University of Denver experienced double-digit gains in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report ranking of the top 100 colleges in the country. U.S. News & World Report uses six categories for determining rankings: outcomes, faculty resources, expert opinion, financial resources, student excellence, and alumni giving.



Politics & Social Media

Evaluate the consequences of using social media in the context of politics and decribe cultural considerations that facilitate or impede the effective use of social media. “These skills are critical for anyone who seeks to be culturally informed and keep up with the changing demands of a 21st century workspace,� said Arianna Nowakowski, Global Community Engagement program academic director.

Writing for Television

Learn to create a pilot for an original series and how to write a "spec," an original idea for a TV show that currently exists. You'll study the structure, character build, theme, template, and franchise involved in developing scripts for series television.

UX Strategies & Methods

It's all about the user experience, or UX! Gain insight into user experience strategies, tactics, and methodologies while learning to think about UX from a high level, set goals for a product or project, and turn the strategies into concrete steps.

Community Organizing, Voice, and Empowerment

Leading meaningful change to address social problems involves effective communication and organization strategies that include storytelling, social media, and community engagement. In this course, examine power, privilege, and oppression in personal and community contexts to develop strategies that honor and engage community members.

iOS Application Development

Build practical experience with the tools, techniques, and concepts required to build an iOS app! Learn the fundamental user interface design principles that are necessary for creating a meaningful user experience.

CAREER SERVICES The University of Denver is here to support you on your career journey. Whether seeking tips for interview prep or asking career advice, you can count on the office of Career and Professional Development. Schedule a One-on-One Career Advising Appointment!

WEBINARS TO WATCH Beat the bots and burnout with these helpful career webinars from the office of Career and Professional Development. Writing Strong Resumes & Cover Letters Finding Jobs Interviewing with Confidence Career Switching Strategies Leverage Applicant Tracking Systems 6

HOW DU IS RESPONDING TO COVID-19 Dr. Bobbie Kite, assistant dean of academic operations and data and academic director for the Health Informatics and Healthcare Management programs, served this past summer as the University of Denver's deputy COVID response coordinator. Here, she shares with us the DU response to COVID-19. The University of Denver's response to COVID-19 has been rapid and evolving from the beginning. You can characterize DU’s overall response as passionate and comprehensive. With a large commitment to collaborating both internally and externally (most notably with National Jewish Health and public health agencies), DU is poised for an ongoing response for as long as is necessary. The DU COVID-19 Dashboard is a great resource to see the current state of affairs and illustrates the comprehensive and data-informed approach DU is utilizing in continued response to COVID-19. With an eye toward preserving an exceptional student experience, DU will continue forging ahead in the times to come. VIEW THE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER CORONAVIRUS DASHBOARD AT: 7




In recognition of October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we t for the Information & Communications Technology program, and Cathie Wilso Q: We’ve seen cybersecurity take center stage in recent months as much of the workforce began working remotely. Given this, what are some challenges that arose, and what are the opportunities moving forward? A: Many companies and educational institutions did not have well-developed and tested work-from-home policies or plans. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sudden shift to a remote workforce resulted in the creation of ad-hoc plans, which in turn resulted in potential cybersecurity problems, such as using personal devices to access company data, and exposure to malware, viruses, and malicious actors. The good news is that companies are learning the importance of developing sound cybersecurity policies and processes. In the end, COVID-19 will result in changes to how people work; for example, the number of people working remotely, either full-time or part-time, may be higher than pre-COVID numbers. Companies may discover benefits associated with a remote workforce, such as a decreased need for expensive office space. On the other hand, employees may desire to return to the office full-time to keep their home and workspace separate and for social interactions with their peers and friends. Since the increase in a remote workforce may continue for the foreseeable future, it is important for individuals and companies to continue to make security a top priority. 8

Q: How can organizations and their employees do their part and be “cybersmart”? A: First and foremost, being aware of the importance of cybersecurity policies and practices will go a long way to protect data and systems. Companies should have well-developed and tested cybersecurity policies and procedures, and there must be an appropriate level of cybersecurity training and education. Bad actors quickly learned how to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for financial gain, and they engaged in malicious activities with email as their primary conduit for obtaining personal information. Think back over the past few months; do you recall receiving an email asking you to contribute to a COVID-19 relief fund, or asking you to help someone who is out of work pay their rent? These are two examples of the phishing attempts you may have seen. Additionally, you may have received multiple emails saying suspicious activity was reported on your bank card or online shopping account, and all you need to do to correct the problem is click on a link or call a phone number for assistance. Some ways employees can do their part to be cybersmart include repeating the mantra “think before you click” before clicking on links in emails, only download images or documents from trusted sources, report phishing attempts to your IT department (this may be as simple as clicking a “Report Phishing” button in Outlook), and treat emails with suspicious subjects as potential threats. In addition, organizations can do their




tapped into the minds of Mike Batty, academic director on, assistant academic director, to discuss cybersecurity. part in continuing to make security a top priority by implementing sound information security policies, practices, and tools. Q: At University College, we have areas of study in Information Systems Security and Cybersecurity Management. Who are these programs ideal for? A: The Information Systems Security concentration is for people whose focus is on the everyday aspects of protecting data, network infrastructure, and systems. Students in the Information Systems Security concentration will learn about networking protocols, analyzing packets using tools such as WireShark, identity access, and disaster recovery and operations security. The Cybersecurity Management concentration is for people who are on the management track. This concentration covers topics such as creating cybersecurity policy, enterprise cybersecurity training programs, cybersecurity risk and response, and cybersecurity leadership and strategic planning. This program is idea for students that currently work in the information system security or cybersecurity field and would like to move into a more managerial role. To learn more, visit universitycollege.

DID YOU KNOW? There are more than 200,000 cybersecurity positions unfilled, growing by 37% in the next few years (Forbes). Cybersecurity professionals make around $46.01 to $57.23 per hour (Emsi Labor). There will be approximately 1.8 million cybersecurity professionals needed by 2022 (Cyber Defense Magazine).

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Two Lane Diaries: Walking an Island Meet Julie North, a 2011 University College alumna who received her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management, which she says shaped the road she found herself on this summer: walking around the whole 308-mile island of her current home in Puerto Rico. Read on for her incredible story in her own words. 10


Professionally, I am a sustainability consultant turned travel agent. I used to be the director of sustainability for Aurora Public Schools before a massive budget shortfall in 2017 cut my career short and I was laid off. I have since relocated to the island of Puerto Rico and have fused my personal interests of travel with responsible and ethical practices to provide my clients with immersive and authentic experiences that center on the local entrepreneurial spirit and keep dollars in the communities creating meaningful partnerships. Not only did Puerto Rico face cancellations and uncertainty in January due to a series of massive earthquakes, but with February bringing a pandemic rife with restrictions and curfews, it made the upcoming months for travel, let alone daily activities, seem really bleak. Not having any work myself, I realized that I didn’t actually have to fly anywhere to enjoy traveling. One day I ended up walking to the next town over—more than 10 miles—and that was when I had the hair-brained idea to keep going and walk around the whole island, or at least attempt it! The island of Puerto Rico is dubbed as the “Island of Enchantment,” and it certainly lives up to its nickname in every sense. The local knowledge of the land was some of the best storytelling I’ve ever heard, especially in regards to natural disasters and how the land and marine forms helped certain areas to avoid flooding during tropical storms. The natural ecosystems overlap with one another to create microclimates within the island’s predominately tropical rainforest temperatures. Interestingly, El Yunque is the only rainforest in the United States, and it happens to be right here in Puerto Rico (Rio Grande, to be exact). The island is vastly diverse and I always knew it was, but being able to walk and experience it first-hand, even many different climate zones in just one day was fascinating. Having visited 42 of the 78 municipalities, each one is unique and has its own flavor, slang, famous person, public art, and natural environment. From the coffee farms in Yauco, to the bike paths in Loiza, the surfing in Isabela, the bioluminescent waters in La Parguera, there are adventures around every corner, and it’s hard to not feel like a kid again. 11




Sonia Castellano’s technology journey began on Facebook. An active networker, she was struck by a coding boot camp testimonial. The connection raved about the experience, reflecting on her move from a deadend job to a career that doubled her income and changed her life. Then, Sonia was the member services manager at a fitness studio with a passion for website development, looking for a change. “It was so powerful to see this post from a Black woman like myself — I don’t have to tell you that representation in tech is low for women, and specifically women of color,” said Sonia. “It’s unfortunate that diversity still isn’t the norm in tech roles. This woman, my friend, was successfully challenging that.”


Sonia made the decision to enroll in the University of Denver’s Coding Boot Camp hosted by the Center for Professional Development, passing the entrance exam with flying colors. “I realized, I’m good at this,” said Sonia. Due to COVID-19, Sonia’s boot

camp experience and subsequent job search were moved entirely online. Ultimately, the boot camp empowered Sonia throughout her career search. For Sonia, the process of enrolling in the boot camp meant entering a space she knew didn’t include people who looked like her. “I spoke to a lot of students and alumni who said they dealt with imposter syndrome,” she said. “I definitely felt that. We hear so much about the ‘typical’ person in tech — who software developers are and who they should be — and I didn’t fit into any of that. Succeeding was a process of learning all over again how to believe in myself, and measuring myself against my own yardstick.” Sonia’s vetting didn’t begin at the first interview; tons of behind-the-scenes work ensured each company reflected her values. She researched each of their mission statements, scoured their social media accounts, and examined their responses to current social and political events.


“My cohort completed the boot camp in the first week of June,” she said. “It coincided with the protests happening across America. I knew I wanted to see something that reflected a keen awareness of the current time. And that’s not to say that I needed to work at a company that had Black Lives Matter signs hanging on every wall, but I did want to make sure that there was a clear thought process and energy going into diversity work on the team that I was going to join.”  After an intense three-week job search, Sonia landed at InPlace Software Inc., a division of Quantum IT, Australia. She uses the skills mastered in the boot camp every day — from SQL, data analysis and quick thinking to navigating remote work. But it’s not all technology-based, and the internal work she did — learning to believe in herself and prioritizing her values — were undeniable factors in her success. “It’s been phenomenal,” said Sonia. “Part of what drew me to the company was that early on, I saw they had pub-

licly posted literature communicating where they stood in support of Black Lives Matter, civil rights, social rights, and human rights. I knew those were things that mattered to me — and it paid off to follow that drive instead of giving into that desperation for just any job. Now, here I am, currently the only Black woman in the tech department of my company’s U.S. office, working with predominantly white males, but I don’t feel demeaned, disrespected, or slighted. I feel like my voice matters in every conversation.” For Sonia, discussing a lack of representation in tech isn’t about having the answer. It’s about starting the conversation. “It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but it’s necessary,” said Sonia. “Being able to discuss these things — to enjoy the people that I work with, to be part of such a close-knit team, and to make landing this job a win-win for both myself and the organization has been fantastic.”

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HEALTHCARE DATA SCIENCE Denver is fast becoming a hub for both technology and healthcare, putting University College at the University of Denver in a unique position to be a leader in the intersection of the two. Vast amounts of patient data are being collected every day, and professionals who can interpret and use that data to inform decisions are in a growing demand. In order to meet both the interest in digital health data science among students and the healthcare market’s needs for qualified employees, University College created a new graduate program, Health Informatics, which welcomed its first cohort in 2020. Key to teaching students immediately applicable, career-focused skills is the use of real-life, de-identified health data procured from actual hospital systems and claims databases. “The students will be able to get into real, credible datasets to learn how to ask the right questions, mine for patterns and insights, and ultimately better understand how to interpret and provide context to the massive amounts of health data currently being collected and stored," said Rachel Rogers, assistant academic director and assistant teaching professor. About a month’s worth of de-identified, anonymous hospital data was obtained from HCA Healthcare, a network of more than 180 hospitals across the U.S. and UK. The data sets provided to the Health Informatics program offer a vast amount of raw beginnings to glean information. In addition, the procured

data is in its unedited form, so students learn how to assess doctors’ notes, varying lab values, and more, just like they would in a real healthcare setting. “If you think about a length of a stay, which is four days on average, students will have a chance to work with a lot of data on individual patients,” said Andy Draper, the CIO for the Continental Division of HCA and Health Informatics faculty member. Andy was instrumental in forming the degree program, as well as procuring the health data sets. In addition to the powerful data from HCA, the Health Informatics program has also attained a large data set from the Center for Improving Value in Health Cate (CIVHC), Colorado’s own all payer claims database. “The combination of these two data streams gives students local, regional, and national data to grapple with while providing multiple viewpoints into health data science needed to master not only hospital system data, but the payer (insurance) and public health data as well,” said Dr. Bobbie Kite, director of the Health Informatics program. Working with real data teaches students immediately applicable skills to organize and analyze patient information, as well as deliver insights that are reliable and accurate, in any healthcare setting. “There is a huge demand for healthcare data scientists, and innovation here is very aggressive. DU and its students have the opportunity to take leadership in this area,” said Andy.

REFER A FRIEND When you refer a friend, colleague, or family member to the University of Denver's University College, you're empowering them to pursue their educational goals and make an impact. Share the power of education and refer a friend today! Once your contact enrolls and attends a University College course, you'll receive a token of our gratitude.





Gothic, Colorado just outside of Crested Butte, was once a booming mining town teeming with prospectors bent on striking it rich in the surrounding orefilled mountains. But when the silver ran dry and the miners packed up and headed on to the next claim, something just as valuable as the ore moved in: research. For almost a century, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), located at the Gothic site and the area beyond, has been a worldwide leader in climate and environmental research, including Geographic Information Systems technology research used to map research plots, important boundaries, and historic structures to prove the case for conservation. At the heart of that research is GIS program alumna and faculty member Shannon Sprott, who also serves as the RMBL’s GPS/GIS Coordinator. Her GIS experience, education, and enthusiasm helped to ensure that the RMBL will remain one of the world’s most diverse research centers for years to come.

After taking her first course in GIS in 2001 and working through a GIS internship with Gunnison County in 2002, Shannon taught herself to use ArcMap software and look for data sets that helped with a variety of county projects. Her internship eventually turned into a full-time position. “I just ended up loving it. I’m a planner person, and I don’t like doing the same thing 8 hours a day. When I started doing mapping, I was doing something different every hour,” she said. When the time came to advance in her career with the county, she sought out a GIS graduate certificate through DU’s University College to build more skills in GIS — and even get reclassified to a higher position with a better salary. It also laid the foundation for her to quickly earn her master’s in GIS when the University of Denver started up the online master’s program in 2009. “I was one of the first people to take the online master’s program,” she said. “My GIS certificate credits transferred over into the master’s program because


I stayed with the University of Denver. Because of that, I only had just over a year left of classwork.” Today, it has all come full circle for Shannon, from student to instructor. In addition to her work at the RMBL, she started teaching Intro to GIS and Geodatabase Applications. In her role as an instructor, she gives students a chance to hit the ground running with the technology through her years of experience in the field. “I just want people to get more comfortable in dealing with data and organizing data, as well as working with new software. It’s not easy throwing yourself into something new,” she said. Thanks to Shannon’s love and knowledge of GIS, not only has she made an impact on her students but she also has made an impact on the scientific community of RMBL. Shannon creates maps for virtually everything on the Gothic property. For example, she has mapped out improvements, like sewer and septic lines, that help with maintenance of the property. She can even map out where butterflies have landed during a pollinator study using data from researchers’ GPS units. Research done at Gothic has influenced legislative policy, management best practices, and understanding of ecolog-

ical processes across the world. Not only is new research happening regularly, the site has also generated decades of data from the same studies, which is a rarity in science. Seeing how decades of past and future research and data were at stake, the RMBL was able to protect Gothic and the entire 270-acre site under a conservation easement with Colorado Open Lands in the summer of 2020. Getting the easement required proving that there was enough ecological and conservation value to preserve Gothic forever. That is where GIS played a critical role. Shannon was able to create a variety of maps, including topography, soils, natural features, facilities, wetlands, as well as buildings of historical value, long-term research plots, and more. Thanks to those maps and the hard work of RMBL staff, research can now take place indefinitely, keeping science alive in well in the high country of Colorado without the threat of development. “People say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I say a map is worth 1,000 pictures," said Shannon.

To learn more about the GIS program at the University of Denver, please visit 17


BE FEATURED ON THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE WEBSITE! University College is looking for authentic, candid photos to showcase our unique students! Whether getting help from a friend, self-timer, or your smart phone, take a photo of yourself in your study environment. 18


With regional teams based in cities across the country, it’s easier than ever to tap into your DU Global Network of alumni, students, friends, and family. The University of Denver Regional Teams through the Office of Alumni Engagement connects the alumni community through intentional networking, virtual and in-person events, and volunteer opportunities. 19

University College 2211 S. Josephine St. Denver, Colorado 80208

Top left: Academic Director Ellen Winiarczyk congratulates recent Nonprofit Leadership graduate Madeline Hammy Scott. Middle left: Students social distance on campus. Bottom left: Cars line up for COVID-19 testing. Top right: New Kiwibot delivery service on campus. Bottom left: Chancellor Haefner greets graduates.

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