Director of community engagement discusses student internships and monuments

Student senators heard from Jennifer Furda, the UCCS director of community engagement and local government during the Oct. 20 Student Government Association Senate meeting. The guest speaker discussed her role in getting students connected to the community and a project made to honor UCCS Olympians and Paralympians.

Furda’s main priority at her job is to provide a “two-lane highway between UCCS and the community, and the community of UCCS,” connecting students from UCCS to outside opportunities and getting people from the community to consider going to college at UCCS.

Her biggest push is for students to get more involved in internships and the workforce, noting the importance of getting them more active outside the university. “The day you step on this campus, you better be looking for an internship,” Furda said.

Part of Furda’s job is also advocating for UCCS students to local companies and government. “I have 12,000 of this city’s future workforce, [and] nothing drives me more insane than when the word workforce comes up, and UCCS is not mentioned in the next five words,” Furda said.

According to Furda, one of the easiest ways for her to get the community involved in UCCS is through an online college career network called Handshake. Handshake connects students to jobs and internships by matching their profiles with company profiles. “It marries you. It’s a dating app for interns … and it’s also jobs,” Furda said.

One community project Furda is currently working on is a sculpture for UCCS Olympians and Paralympians. Her desire is to get more national recognition for the many athletes who have trained in Colorado Springs and competed in the Olympics. “I am literally in the middle of Olympic City USA, and I would have no clue that I’m there,” Furda said.

The sculpture is scheduled to be finished by May 25, 2023, and will take a shape similar to a tiered cake with the middle layer listing every UCCS student that has competed in the Olympics or Paralympics. The top layer will have five eight-inch pipes depicting the Olympic colors. The sculpture is a $150,000 project, of which $130,000 has been raised through local funding that Furda led with the help of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.

“It gives us a brand. It gives us something for Colorado Springs to kind of hang our hat to,” Furda said.

In other news:

  • SGA also heard from Democrat candidate for the El Paso County Sheriff’s office, John Foley. Foley discussed his platform and what he is running on, emphasizing the importance of police recruitment and retention. He also spoke about his goals to reduce the number of people with mental health issues in the El Paso County jail.
  • Cassandra Onate was confirmed as an SGA justice, with 71% of the senate voting yes to approve the motion. Onate believes that her experience as the former Vice President for SGA has helped her understand how the senate functions, which will assist her as a justice.
  • SB-08 Light the Spine bill passed with 93% of senators voting yes to approve it. Senator at Large Isabella Polombo authored the bill, and she plans to spend the $4,675 allocated to the project to light the pedestrian spine and decorate it with headboards from 34 different clubs and organizations.
  • SB-09 ACI Room Bill passed unanimously. The bill sponsors an event by Awaken Creative Institute and will provide a room for them to display their original performance Collage of Story and Song.

Senator panel from the SGA meeting on Oct. 20. Photo by Kira Thorne.