The Quad welcomes new director, same direction

Tom Baker 

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     The Quad has welcomed its new executive director Megan Barry, who will continue to lead students from the four Colorado Springs colleges in community-based projects, giving students experience to use in their future careers. 

     The Quad is a group dedicated to connecting students from UCCS, PPCC, CC and the Air Force Academy with clients to give them internship experience. These internships benefit the students and give them practical career experience while helping their local community. 

     Belle Cotton, director of student experience at the Quad, said, “What we’re all about is helping to serve the community with data-driven solutions with various problems. We work for all different sorts of companies and organizations in Colorado Springs, and we want to keep it local to serving our immediate community and clients.” 

Belle Cotton, director of student experience at the Quad. Photo provided by Belle Cotton.

     She continued, “We were more working directly for for-profit organizations, and over the past couple years, we’ve started to incorporate other kind of nonprofits or more kind of community-based work that really benefits the community as well.” 

     Past projects have included working alongside the Children’s Hospital in Denver to help combat high child suicide rates in Colorado and working with a docuseries director to address local health equity. 

     The Quad recently secured a three-year contract for a project looking at the strengths and weaknesses in the Colorado education system, hoping to identify where the gaps are in the  districts in Colorado Springs. 

     While the student’s major does play a role in acceptance into the program, Cotton said, “Students’ skill sets, past work experience and overall attitude is much more important to us than their academic major.  

     Obviously, certain projects benefit more from having certain majors involved. … We’d love to have an education major involved in [the education project], but we do see a lot of value in a diverse set of opinions and perspectives on our team,” Cotton said. 

     In addition to hiring Barry as the executive director, the Quad hired two new team members, Rachel Vickery and Jessica Wise. Vickery is a UCCS graduate who will be working as a research fellow, and Wise will be leading the newly contracted education project.  

     Cotton said, “The Quad always has one or two research fellows, which are usually just year-long fellowships, where a recent graduate from one of the four schools will come work for us.” 

     Barry has been an associate director at the Quad for the last two and a half years and has worked alongside former director Jake Eichengreen with project development. She brings her leadership experience and drive to help students and the community to the Quad. 

     The Quad staff will be meeting remotely for the upcoming fall semester but will consider meeting in person or in a hybrid format during the spring. The deadline for the fall internship has passed, but applications for the spring internship will open in January 2022.