A Tribute to Denver

GT, you have all been some of my best friends in Denver.  Without you my experience would be nowhere as extraordinary as it was.  Thank you for always being there for me, keeping me sane, and supporting me as I follow my dreams.

When I take a minute to step back and reflect on the last two and a half years I spent in Denver, my mind spins in a million different directions.  I have made some of the most incredible friends, been a part of some amazing endeavors, and explored some unreal parts of our country.   I was able to venture to multiple Western cities including L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, and did several road trips beginning in Denver -- one of the main reasons I moved there before moving out of the country.  Anticipating that I would just be going to Denver for grad school, I found myself to be incredibly wrong about walking away with solely a degree.

This collection of photos is just a small tribute to the place I've called home for the most recent chapter of my life, representing some of the adventures, friendships, mischief, and projects of which I've been fortunate to be a part.

I want to thank all of my incredible friends, supervisors, bosses, co-workers, and family for making my Colorado experience one I will cherish for the rest of my life.

This is where it all began...grad school orientation at the University of Denver.

Happy hours with my grad school girls to digest the chaos and madness of our program

Some of the refugee children I worked with during my first year in the International Disaster Psychology program.

They made every day at my internship a challenge and an undeniable joy.

Teaching English and Citizenship Education to our class of refugees from all over the world was a learning experience that will greatly impact my future endeavors.

An internship full of refugees who have a hard time communicating with us and with each other should not have been as much fun as it was

On our off time from class and internships, we would go to the Golden Cliffs for some rock climbing and outdoorsy self-care

Drinking wine in class was a particularly important part of our school week.  Jk, Mom, we convinced our professor it'd be cool for a "Tests & Measurements" project.  Bingo.

Naps between classes were a must

"Studious" nights turned into really stupid shenanigans that kept us sane

Regular hikes helped clear our brains of the trauma-related-stuff we were studying in class

Dozens of kick ass days at Wash Park were the best way to feel normal during and after the grad school madness

We were so lucky to be a part of the Presidential Debate, hosted by the University of Denver

Going to a ton of concerts at Red Rocks and other musical venues were a must

I was so lucky while living out West because so many of my friends and family from the East coast came out to visit me

Oh, Blake Street Tavern, where to begin with you.  Many weekends during grad school were spent here having a blast with my co-workers and customers.  Giants Nation eventually formed and every Sunday was such a treat to watch with my fellow Big Blue Wrecking Crew Fan Club.

After grad school, BST quickly became my family and where I spent most of my time.  How could I not?  Some amazing people have worked there, probably why it was so hard for me to leave.

We did brewery tours together...

....and partook in some plain old drunken debauchery

I found my twin and my triplet....people confused us for each other on a regular basis

Then there's Arien, one of our buds who would come into BST and share millions of his hilarious stories on the reg.

The mountains of Colorado were too good to me over the years; I was spoiled with some amazing snow and ridiculous days of aggressive (and not so aggressive) boarding.

Foolin' around on the slopes was my favorite thing to do in my free time

We even ventured out to the Aspen Mountains a few times...

...to see the X-Games and to party like the locals do...

...or just like the weirdos we often can be.

Several Halloweens were spent in Denver...

And, sometimes, I would take it just a bit too far.

Many a sporting event was attended...

And many a New Year's Eve was spent counting down at Blake Street.

During the summer between the two years of grad school, I was fortunate to spend three months of my summer in Western Africa, working on a refugee camp and two psychiatric hospitals in Ghana.

We went on as many trips around the region as we could.

And met some incredible people along the way.

The IDP program provided us with some sweet trainings over the two years.  For instance, we got to fly to Chad, run from rebels, conduct needs assessments, and present our proposals for how we could improve the lives of the refugees and asylum seekers.  These were all simulations, don't worry.

After we got back from our respective international internships around the world, we did multiple presentations about our experiences to share what we learned and how we were impacted.

Then there was the big, bad graduation ceremony, a bittersweet culmination of our Master's program.

I'm so lucky to call these guys my colleagues and friends.  I'm not worried we'll meet again to start up that NGO/non-profit we've all dreamed of establishing some where on the planet.

This past summer, after graduation, the MAC (Monday Adventure Club) was born.

We went on weekly adventures and checked things off of our bucket lists we'd always wanted to do.

Hanging Lakes was by far one of my favorite excursions.

Horseback riding was pretty damn cool, too.  I'm so grateful I have go-getters as friends cause Colorado has too much to offer to skip out on the fun.

We did the Rugged Maniac over the summer...

...and had nights out on the town that any socialite would envy.

We spent too many nights at Zi South - my home away from home.  Special shout outs to John, James, Emily, Kyle and the rest of the crew that made every night a fuzzy riot.  Thanks for taking care of us.  I would't trade a single night for anything.

 This past summer, Nick, Chris & I took an insane road trip to the Grand Canyon and I'll never forget what went down there.  I have to say, without those two, my time in Denver would not be nearly as fun, adventurous, and as special as it was.

Another special night I won't forget:  canvases and cocktails for Stacy's birthday.  No one should give a group of girls that much wine and that many crafts.  I'll leave out the photos of us after we decided to paint each other.  Never gonna grow up.

I'm going to miss my girls more than they'll ever know, but I cherish the times we spent together and the everlasting friendships we've made.  GT vacation to Oz is going to be UNREAL.

Every Thursday this summer, we'd rally the troops and hit up Wash Park for some aggressive volleyball against other service industry homies.

We would also regularly stop into Hapa for some gut-busting, mouth-watering sushi.

We said goodbye to Chris before he left for his six months in London.

We had sassy trips to the mall, as any girl should...

...we even spent a night at the Roller Derby cause, why not!?

We tried Rocky Mountain Oysters (a Colorado delicacy), cause who wouldn't want to try bull testicles?  

We ran a kick ass skeeball league in the Underground Social and laid the foundation for social sports in Denver.

I was fortunate to work on an NBC Sochi film team at the Dew Tour for the Olympic Games!

I got to meet hundreds of famous athletes before they headed to Russia to compete in the Sochi Olympic Games.

I got to be in Denver when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl!

I spent many nights at Ashley's hanging out with her kids and Amber while we sipped on wine and talked about life.

I got to spend some ridiculous nights up in Breck with my buddies and favorite DJ, Keith <3

Best of all, I got to spend my last Valentine's Day with all the people I love in Denver at my going-away party that they made so special for me.  I felt so loved, which made the goodbyes that much harder.

I love you, Denver.  There's no place like you.  Take care of my family for me.