Pre-Work Update (with Denver Trip)

I start working full-time on Monday!  What a crazy idea… I’m excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful, scared – just about everything.  I am confident that my job with Centene Corporation is going to be a great next step in this life journey.  I’ve had a few weeks since accepting the job offer from Centene to get back in touch with people and begin the process of re-establishing myself in St. Louis.  It seems like it will be a long process, but I am looking forward to rekindling friendships and building new ones.  Things sure have changed here in the past five years.

I had planned on making a trip to Denver (if I wasn’t going to be working there) before beginning work and it worked out for me to spend about a week in Denver recently.  It was great spending time with friends and seeing the University of Denver again before I begin my professional life.  I was also able to spend time with people who I had hoped to see before leaving Denver but timing with finals and graduation prevented it.  I’m glad that happened.

I had a “mental checklist” for my time in Denver.  Everything I had hoped would happen happened and then some.  It was a great time!  I spent time with my “adopted” Denver family, the Cohen’s.  I went camping off of Guanella Pass with some friends where we also went hiking and met some really great people (including some from England and Ireland).  Camping there was really fun though.  I was at Chabad for Mendel’s 10th birthday.  I went out downtown with friends around LoDo.  Several of us went up to Loveland to visit another friend.  We went swimming and bought a slip ‘n’ slide at Wal-Mart.  We felt grown up (haha), but it was a lot of fun!  I hung out with a friend around Capital Hill.  I went camping with my cousins at Chatfield Reservoir. I spent a day and a half around DU seeing more friends and people I used to work with.

I was able to spend time with some great people during my time in Denver.  I hope that we are all able to stay in touch and continue to be a part of each others’ lives as we all begin this next stage of life.

This weekend will be quite busy as I spend time with old friends and begin the process of making new ones.  After an amazing week in Denver, I am hopeful that this next step in St. Louis will continue my trend of fortunate and blessed experiences.  I am excited for what the future holds.  Thank you to everyone who has, continues to, and will be a part of my life!

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‘Til The Morning We Dream So Long

I have a new song stuck in my head.  And I like it a lot – but, more on that later.  I’m about to begin week four (of ten) of Spring Quarter.  I knew this quarter was going to fly by, but wow!  I have no idea where the time is going!  I feel like it should be week one still – my classes still seem to be starting up and wham!  The work hits.  I am researching for several projects right now, doing a case competition, planning an awesome Diversity Summit, looking/interviewing for jobs, and trying to make the most of my time here with my Denver friends.

Yesterday was interesting.  I had conversation throughout the day that made me want to go back home post-graduation to rejoin friends and family there.  Then I attended Shabbat 200, the University of Denver’s largest Jewish event.  Chabad plans it every year and we had a great turnout.  I spent time with great people (Jewish and not Jewish) at the event and afterward that caused me to reexamine my convictions from earlier in the day.  I know these major decisions should not be based on chance encounters or single events, but I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people wherever I have lived.

No decisions yet.  Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to make some decisions on my post-graduation future very soon.  I am ready to end the uncertainty.  Regardless of what happens, I know that I will have to work hard to maintain relationships.  But they are relationships worth maintaining and that really is the point.

Lupe Fiasco has an incredibly catchy song right now: “The Show Goes On.”  It’s a great song and actually has a pretty good message.  It is also rather relevant in that it causes one to evaluate the reasons why we act the way we do.  It is definitely worth checking out (note that the language in the video and lyrics below is explicit):

LA-SER

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

[Lupe Fiasco Verse 1]
Have you ever had the feeling that you was being had
Don’t that sh-t make you mad
They treat you like a slave, with chains all on your soul,
And put whips up on your back,
They be lying through they teeth
Hope you slip up off your path
I don’t switch up I just laugh
Put my kicks up on they desk
Unaffected by they threats than get busy on they ass
See that’s how that Chi-Town made me
That’s how my daddy raised me
That glittering may not be gold, don’t let no body play me
If you are my homeboy, you never have to pay me
Go on and put your hands up, when times are hard you stand up
L-U-P the man, cause a brand that the fans trust
So even if they ban us they’ll never slow my plans up!

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

[Lupe Fiasco Verse 2]
One in the air for the people that ain’t here
Two in the air for the father that’s there
Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto
Four for the kids who don’t wanna be there

None for the n-ggas trying to hold them back
Five in the air for the teacher not scared to tell those kids thats living in the ghetto that the n-ggas holdin back that the World is theirs!
Yeah yeah, the World is yours, I was once that little boy
Terrified of the World
Now I’m on a World tour
I will give up everything, even start a world war
For these ghettos girls and boys im rapping round’ the World for!
Africa to New York, Haiti then I detour, Oakland out to Auckland
Gaza Strip to Detroit, say hip-hop only destroy
Tell em’ look at me, boy!
I hope your son don’t have a gun and that would be a D-boy

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

[Lupe Fiasco Verse 3]
So no matter what you been through
No matter what you into
No matter what you see when you look outside your window
Brown grass or green grass
Picket fence or barbed wire
Never ever put them down
You just lift your arms higher
Raise em till’ your arms tired
Let em’ know you’re their
That you struggling and survivin’ that you gonna persevere
Yeah, ain’t no body leavin, no body goin’ home
Even if they turn the lights out the show is goin’ on!

Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!
Alright, already the show goes on
Alright, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

What A Beautiful Day (After Friday)

Denver is amazing today!  It is truly beautiful – sunny blue skies with a nice breeze.  Earlier, I saw that it was 86 degrees.  Yes, 86!  I finally broke out the shorts and sandals and man was it great!  Aylee, my roommate, and I went for a walk this afternoon around Washington Park and Cherry Creek.  It was the first time I’ve actually been to Washington Park.  Apparently, after being in Denver for almost five years that is a crime or something like that.  I’m glad I no longer have that to worry about.  It’s a really nice park and it was packed today.  We had a good walk and good conversation.

Now, I know today is Saturday, but apparently Friday is the day to be excited about.  I found that out from Rebecca Black, who if you did not know, is a 13 year old who has a music video on YouTube that has gone viral.   The song is not exactly what you would call good, but it is pretty amusing and, unfortunately, really catchy:

That video has almost 78 million views!  Now that you have watched the original video, you will need to watch a cover.  Try to follow this: Stephen Colbert auctioned off a portrait of himself and said that Jimmy Fallon would match the $26,000 donation to DonorsChoose.org.  That was pretty cool!  Except apparently Jimmy Fallon had never said that, so he told his audience that if they could raise $26,000 then Stephen Colbert would come on his show and sing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song.  But Stephen Colbert never agreed.  However, since Jimmy Fallon got the money raised, Stephen Colbert went on the show and sang.  It is hilarious.  Check it out:

ET Visits Denver?

Denver never ceases to amaze me.  Next Tuesday, voters in Denver will vote on Initiative 300: The Denver Ballot Initiative to Form an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission.

The initiative reads as follows:

“Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an Initiated Ordinance to require the creation of an extraterrestrial affairs commission to help ensure the health, safety, and cultural awareness of Denver residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles, and fund such commission from grants, gifts and donations?”

It won’t cost the taxpayers, but seriously?  Aren’t there more important/pressing things we could be spending our time on?

Back in Denver

Yesterday, I arrived back in Denver to get started for the new school year! I moved in to a townhouse about a 15-20 minutes walk from class/work. I am renting a room from a friend who graduated several years ago. We met at Chabad and he is originally from St. Louis! It’s a nice place and after relaxing from moving in taking longer than I had thought it would (of course!), I like it a lot.

I am trying to catch up on life in Denver and with friends. This week is orientation, but because the schedule overlaps with Rosh HaShanah, I have to make up some sessions with other (earlier) groups which makes my life these next few days a little hectic. I have a lot of reading for orientation that I still need to do and prep work for my Statistics class, that I am a bit worried about. I’m sure everything will work out well though.

It is strange not living in a building that surrounds me with students. It is definitely a different feeling that will take some getting used to. Many of my close friends are not here so I will need to reevaluate what I am doing with my time – new friends, homework, involvement, job search, etc. After being unsure about spending all summer with the family at home, I thought it strange when I realized that I actually miss my family a lot, now that I am back here. Soon enough, I will be too busy to think about all that!

As I get ready for the new year of MBA classes and programs, I look forward to the future!

B.o.B. – Airplanes ft. Hayley Williams

Airplanes by B.o.B. featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore is currently one of my favorite songs.  I had heard bits and pieces, but first heard the song in its entirety while at Lodo’s in Denver with some good friends.  We were reminiscing and celebrating the end of senior year and the song seemed to have relevance as I was about to graduate and hoped (and still do) that the memories and I friendships I had made would stay with me for quite some time.  I like the fact that the song is hopeful, and has more depth than most of the popular music that seems to be overplayed.  It is also a good song with a catchy beat.

While there were plenty of fake music videos for the song, the official video was only recently posted.  Interestingly, I read on MTV’s website (this may be the only MTV article I have read this year), that Hayley Williams and B.o.B. have never met – and did not plan to even for filming the video.  That’s kind of strange, but it is a great song nevertheless.

Lyrics:

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, Wish right now
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, Wish right now

Yeah
I could use a dream or a genie or a wish
To go back to a place much simpler than this
Cause after all the partying
The smashing and crashing
And all the glitz and the glam and the fashion
And all the pandemonium and all the madness
There comes a time when you fade to the blackness
When you’re staring at that phone in your lap
And hopin’ but them people never call you back
But that’s just how the story unfolds
You get another hand
Soon after you fold
And when your plans unravel in the sand
What would you wish for if you had one chance?
So airplanes airplanes
Sorry I’m late
I’m on my way
So don’t close that gate
If I don’t make that
Then I switch my flight
And I’ll be right back at it
By the end of the night

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, Wish right now
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, Wish right now

Yeah
Yeah
Somebody take me back to the days
Before this was a job
Before I got paid
Before it ever mattered what I had in my bank
Yeah back when I was trying to get a tip at Subway
Back when I was rapping for the hell of it
But now days we rapping to stay relevant
I’m guessing that if we can make some wishes out of airplanes
Then maybe oh maybe I’ll go back to the days
Before the politics that we call the rap game
And back when ain’t nobody listened to my mixtape
And back before I tried to cover up my slang
But this is for decater
What’s up Bobby Ray
So can I get a wish to end the politics
And get back to the music that started this shit
So here I stand
And then again I say
I’m hoping we can make some wishes out of airplanes

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, Wish right now
Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, Wish right now

Undergraduate Graduation

It has been several days since I’ve posted anything on here.  Life has been absolutely insane getting ready for graduating, preparing to come back home (and I am back in St. Louis now).  Hopefully, this summer will provide opportunities for sharing and reflection.

On Saturday, June 5, 2010, I walked across the stage in the Ritchie Center at the University of Denver, received a diploma case (they mail diplomas 8-10 weeks later, but more on this to follow), was greeted by the Chancellor and the Provost, and had my 2010 white Arts & Humanities tassel moved from the right side of my hat to the left side.  I “graduated” the University of Denver!

I use quotes, because I technically did not get my diploma yet.  While I have completed all of the requirements for my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degree, I will not receive a diploma until next year.  While my diploma for my BA will come at the same time as my MBA and will be dated 2011, I do and will continue to consider myself part of the Class of 2010.

Just for fun – and to share with those who are interested – I was recognized in the commencement program in the following ways:

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree (“Future Graduate”)
  • Departmental Distinction in International Studies
  • University Honors (only 46 students received the recognition/completed the requirements)
  • Mortar Board Senior Honor Society
  • Pioneer Award
  • Outstanding Senior Award

The ceremony was 2.5-3 hours long and while it did get hot towards the end, it was a great experience and I am happy that I participated.  Our speaker was the CEO of the Denver Health and Housing Authority.  Javi, Tucker, and I all sat together – even though it was not technically alphabetical order (at least we were within one letter and the same degree).  We had 1232 (I believe) students participating in the undergraduate commencement ceremony.

After the ceremony, Leslie, David, Brittany, Dani and I had a joint graduation celebration lunch at Hillel with our families.  It was a good time with families and food and a slideshow that Leslie made.

The week leading up to graduation was spent cleaning my apartment and getting ready to come home mixed in with time spent with my family (who were in Denver) and time celebrating and reminiscing with my DU friends.  My college experience has been phenomenal, unbelievable, amazing – use any fantastic sounding word and it will probably describe how happy I am with the last four years.  I have learned so much, become such a better person, met amazing people, done things that I never thought I would want to do or have the opportunity to do.  My undergraduate experience has exceeded all of my expectations – in large part because of the amazing people I have met and friendships I have built.

I am very happy that I will be returning to Denver next year for my MBA.  I am worried that it will be different and strange.  The dynamic of most of my good friends no longer being students at DU will certainly take some getting used to.  I am happy that some of them will still be in Denver, but obviously our relationships will shift and change.  I hope that we all stay in touch and that the people I cherish will remain among my best friends for a lifetime.

I do not think that the social dynamic changes have fully hit me yet.  As I went to graduation parties and hung out with friends on Saturday after the ceremony, I reflected that I have really “grown up” with many of these people.  I am a much different person today than I was four years ago – and definitely a better person.  It was strange to realize just how much of an affect each person has had on me over the last four years.  Even people with whom I was never close or did not always get along with influence my experience and I (now) appreciate that.

I do not like goodbyes.  They seem too final and I hope that many who were a part of my (undergraduate) college experience continue to be involved in my life.  Therefore, I will say “see you later!”

Me, Steven, Ronnie, and Javi before the ceremony

Me and my dad before the ceremony

Me, Stuart (my brother), Trisa, Javi, and Dario (Javi's brother) after the graduation ceremony

For more pictures of graduation, check out my Facebook photo album.  DU  posted this story on their news site about graduation.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life these last four years!  Stay in touch!  I will cherish you forever!

OneRepublic @ DU

OneRepublic performed a sort of “impromptu” concert in the middle of the University of Denver’s campus during DU’s annual May Days celebration.  The band’s management approached the University of Denver Programming Board on Tuesday about coming to campus on Wednesday and performing a short set for FREE!  Who wouldn’t want that?

The short concert was promoted on Facebook as a “surprise” that students should show up for. The band came, performed, took pictures, and left. The set was short (All The Right Moves, Apologize, & Secrets – their new single), but it was quite awesome!  The band literally had some instruments put in the middle of the Driscoll Green, a circle of students formed, and then they walked up and started playing.  There were no microphones or speakers, but I believe they did film the performance for some online site (which one I am not sure).

Best May Days ever!

I have videos of the first two songs they performed.  I apologize for the low quality – my camera microphone isn’t necessarily the best.

OneRepublic Performing Live at the University of Denver - Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I also got a picture with Ryan Tedder, the lead singer:

Me and Friends with Ryan Tedder at OneRepublic's Live Performance at the University of Denver

Someone else got video of “Secrets”.  The quality is a bit lower than mine – but hey, you can see me in the video 🙂

The 2010 University of Denver Pioneer Awards

The University of Denver Pioneer Awards Ceremony 2010 was held last night, Tuesday, May 18, 2010.  I was nominated for two awards and was also there to support my friends receiving other awards.

Outstanding Student Awards

Students, advisers, and student organizations are nominated based on their contributions to academic excellence, the campus and university, and community involvement.

18 Seniors were nominated for Outstanding Senior.  A few (3 or 4) were chosen as Distinguished Seniors.  One was chosen as Outstanding Senior.  This year, that person was me.

My certificate reads:

A University is a community of leaders and scholars.
A leader is one that raises the bar for their peers and works to better their institution.

The University of Denver
would like to recognize
Joel Portman
Outstanding Senior Student
2009-2010

This award is present to you in recognition of your excellence in the areas of leadership, scholarship, citizenship, and service to the University of Denver community.

I was not expecting to receive this award.  While I have been active, I did not think that I was as involved this year.  Apparently other people recognize my involvement more significantly than I did.  Either way, I am very appreciative to everyone.

Two years ago, I also received the award for Outstanding Sophomore Student.

Pioneer Awards

The Pioneer Award is the most prestigious award given to a University of Denver student.

From the award ceremony booklet:

The year was 1926 and the Parsons of the Colorado Seminary became the Pioneers of the University of Denver.
That same year the Kynewisbok [University of Denver yearbook, now defunct] began one of the University’s most lasting traditions – the naming of “The Pioneers” – individuals whose dedication to our University and its students is beyond measure.
This year’s Pioneer Award nomination came from all over campus and represent the finest ambassadors of the University of Denver both on campus and in the community.
The 10 students, 1 faculty member, 1 staff member, and 1 student organization selected by the committee were chosen for their exemplary dedication and contributions to, and on behalf of, the University.
While their personal goals and ideals differ, they are bound by their visions of a better DU.  Their work toward a goal does not make them unique, but rather the creativity, passion, and spirit with which they pursue this vision does.  Each of these people and organizations have made a difference.

The 1930 Kynewisbok urged its winners,
“Go forth: great battles are yet to be won.”
We urge the same.
The battles they have fought at DU may seem small in comparison to the battles of life but the fight our Pioneers have given show us what is best in ourselves.

We salute their bold imagination, their fiery determination, their collective sense of compassion, and most of all, their Pioneer spirit.

Twenty-six students were nominated to the Pioneer Award.  Ten received it.  I, along with several of my friends, received the award.

I received a poster/certificate/plaque (it is rather large) that has a picture of former University of Denver Chancellor Henry Buchtel and the recognition text.  Henry Buchtel was Governor of Colorado from 1907-1909 and was Chancellor of the University of Denver 1900-1920.  He moved the University of Denver out of debt and began many lasting traditions.

The text on my award reads:

Pioneer.  One who sets themselves apart.
One who chooses a direction and then blazes a path for others to follow.  A pioneer is an innovator, a person who uses his creative talents and unique perspective to positively impact hiss community.

A University of Denver Pioneer is a scholar, a leader and a person with a compassionate spirit and strong character.

We honor
Joel Portman
for his Pioneer Spirit and commitment
to the University of Denver.

/x/ Chancellor Robert D. Coombe

This was certainly a very nice recognition of my four years of hard work and involvement at the University of Denver.

I am appreciative to have been recognized with these awards for my work at DU – but really it is because of everyone who has been there with me and who has supported me that I have been successful. Additionally, I could not have asked for a better group of people with whom to receive the Pioneer Award.

Joel Portman, Tuyen Trisa Bui, and Javier Ogaz, Pioneer Award Recipients, with Provost Gregg Kvistad

Free Laser Tag @DU

Check it out DU: Free Laser Tag on Tuesday, May 25 during May Days 2010 by the University of Denver Programming Board!  We are transforming the Ballroom in Driscoll Student Center into a Laser Tag course.  The University Programming Support Committee of DUPB had decided to bring this exciting program to the University of Denver Programming Board as part of the annual May Days celebration.

You won't want to miss this if you are in Denver!

I designed the flier using my limited Photoshop skills.  And you have to love Neil Patrick Harris/Barney from How I Met Your Mother.