Over the Past Year…

Wow, how fast a year goes! I have now been a college graduate (with two degrees: BA & MBA) for just over a year! How crazy. I can’t believe it has been a year. I miss college a great deal, but I think I have done a good job transitioning out of the DU mode, which as some of you know, I was quite worried about after having been so involved.

I moved back to St. Louis after graduation and spent a lot of time applying for jobs, interviewing, catching up with friends, and worrying about my future. The summer went by very quickly and I enjoyed my time off while looking forward to what was next. Then very quickly I ended up with three job offers around the same time. All were great opportunities – and it was a very difficult decision.

I ended up taking a position as a Contract Negotiator with Centene Corporation, a Fortune 500 managed care company in St. Louis. I am part of the New Business Contracting & Network Development team. When Centene is exploring/wins a contract for a new health plan, we develop the outreach strategy and develop our network of health care providers. We negotiate contracts and provide training. As the plan goes live, the local health plan hires staff to do what we do and then the corporate team gets deployed to a new market. I am always learning new things and enjoy the challenges that come with working in healthcare and Medicaid, specifically. I have great coworkers and enjoy the support of my supervisors.

My position requires me to travel 4-5 days a week so I’ve become a frequent traveler and while that can be tiring and difficult at times, I really like it. I’ve been working in Louisiana since I’ve started and have explored the whole state, while getting to know Baton Rouge and New Orleans pretty well. Soon, I expect to be moving to a new state and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned to a new market and observe the similarities and differences that come with the territory.

Because of my frequent traveling, I have been able to take advantage of the perks and have been to Denver several times, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Tampa/St. Petersburg, San Diego, and Los Angeles. I have a trip planned to Chicago and have plenty of other ideas.

Otherwise, I have enjoyed staying in touch with Denver friends, reconnecting with old friends, spending time with family, and meeting new people. I struggled with meeting new people for a little while as I was trying to figure out if I’d be staying in St. Louis and as I was starting the new job, but I’ve gained traction and have met some great new people. I’ve also been trying to figure out what all St. Louis actually has to offer and have been pleasantly surprised.

So, life is good. It’s been quite the year and I’m looking forward to the next one.

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San Diego

I am writing this on the plane back to New Orleans after having spent the weekend visiting two friends in San Diego. What a great weekend! I have had a few experiences lately that have made me reflect on how fortunate I am to have so many great people in my life. Jess and Ari just confirmed this for me again.

I really liked San Diego. It is a beautiful city. There is still much more there that I would like to explore. We went to the beach, saw seals, did a bit of hiking along some cliffs over the ocean, and explored a bit around Balboa Park. Obviously there are some big tourist draws that we did not do, but hopefully there will be other opportunities for that. What we did do is spend time together.

It’s been almost two and a half years since I’ve seen Jess and almost six years since I’ve seen Ari. That’s crazy! It was so good to see them. I love how we were able to pick up like we’d just seen each other – though, we did cover the highlights of the last several years. Hopefully it will not be so long until the next time.

My Birthday/”We Are Young”

Today is my 24th birthday! It’s kind of crazy how much can happen in one year. This past year held so many milestones and amazing memories that I don’t know how next year can possibly beat it. I know it will try though. I am thankful to all my family and friends for their well wishes and for being positive influences in my life.

Yesterday I watched Tuesday’s episode of Glee. The song at the end really sums up some of the conversations I have been having with a few friends lately. I want to live life to the max and make the most of the time I have…

Girl give me a second I,
I need to get my story straight
My friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State
My lover she’s waiting for me just across the bar
My seat’s been taken by some sunglasses asking bout a scar, and
I know I gave it to you months ago
I know you’re trying to forget
But between the drinks and subtle things
The holes in my apologies, you know
I’m trying hard to take it back
So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Now I know that I’m not
All that you got
I guess that I, I just thought
Maybe we could find new ways to fall apart
But our friend are back
So let’s raise the toast
‘Cause I found someone to carry me home

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Carry me home tonight (Nananananana)
Just carry home tonight (Nananananana)
Carry me home tonight (Nananananana)
Just carry me home tonight (Nananananana)

The moon is on my side
I have no reason to run
So will someone come and carry me home tonight
The angels never arrived
But I can hear the choir
So will someone come and carry me home

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home tonight

Las Vegas: Exploring, Friends, Amazing Buildings, Crazy Times, Beautiful Fountains, & Ne-Yo

This past weekend I was in Las Vegas with a few friends from Denver. It was a great time! I’m really happy I went and am pretty impressed with the amount were were able to do in such a short time. I’m not going to go into all of the details, but I do want to share some of the highlights:

I got to catch-up with some of my close friends!

I love great buildings, so needless to say I was quite impressed with The Strip. We never made it off the strip, but I could have spent much more time admiring the great buildings, even though some of them were just way larger than is necessary.

We did some gambling – I did win $1 at one casino and broke even at blackjack. Otherwise, I lost, though not too much.

We watched the fountains at The Bellagio several times. Every time, they amazed me. I could have just watched the musical fountains all day.

We saw Mystere, the original Cirque du Soleil show. I really liked it – they had some amazingly talented performers. I was a little confused though with what seemed to be a lack of a storyline.

We checked out some great clubs and sampled some of the nightlife. And Saturday night we saw Ne-Yo live! It was awesome! After posting that I was in Vegas on Twitter, I got followed by a promoter for Surrender, the nightclub at Encore. I decided to text him and we ended up on the guest list to see Ne-Yo perform at Encore for his birthday! We ended up just on the other side of the roped off area where Ne-Yo was partying and in the second row from the stage where he was performing. He only performed for a short while, but it was great:

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!

Life Update From The Past Month +

It has been quite some time since I’ve written a regular blog post on here.  May and the beginning of June just flew by!  The end of college came and went – way too quickly!  I am hoping to start doing a better job of blogging again now.  In the meantime, I figured I would give some updates on what I have been up to during the past month and half or so (In no particular order).  I don’t know if anyone will read this, but just in case…

  • I graduated.
  • I co-chaired the University of Denver’s 10th Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence.
  • Earlier (end of April) I competed in the University of Denver’s Inclusive Excellence Case Competition. Life got really busy though and I never wrote about that experience, but my team developed a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy for MolsonCoors, focusing on its international business units.
  • I have gotten to know some amazing people.  This includes quite a good number of the international (specifically Chinese) students at the Daniels College of Business.  I am so happy for the opportunity to become friends with so many great people.
  • I went to a protocol dinner.  I have never had sorbet between courses or three wine pairings at one meal.  I don’t even know if I have ever even had a wine pairing… 🙂
  • I attended part of TEDxDU.  There were some pretty awesome speakers.
  • I completed group papers that involved meetings with and research into Vail Resorts (on human resource strategy) and Love Grown Foods (on business sustainability).
  • I saw the University of Denver’s lacrosse team play in the NCAA final four game… on TV.
  • A friend and I created a Wiki with extensive research and best practices about onboarding and orientation programs.
  • I met up with several friends who came back to visit Denver.
  • I went by the Native Student Alliance’s Pow Wow at the University of Denver.  It was awesome and I wish I could have stayed longer.
  • I went to a Cardinals vs. Rockies game at Coors Field.
  • I went bowling and played laser tag with my cousins in Littleton.
  • I had funnel cake. 🙂
  • A friend and I wanted to go camping, but unfortunately that did not happen.  Apparently finals meant there would be a lot of work to do…
  • I worked with a team as part of my MBA capstone class on a feasibility study/business plan for the creation of a Neurology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist (PharmD) position at Denver Health.  We presented to the Associate COOs and several other executives at Denver Health.  The formal ask will be made soon.
  • I have subscribed to Fortune, Fast Company, The Economist, and several other magazines.  I need to stay current and engaged to be competitive and innovative in the marketplace and to engage in intelligent conversation.
  • I went to a lot of goodbye dinners.  Some on the same night.
  • I went to a pool party.
  • I smiled.
  • I cried a little.
  • I laughed a lot.
  • I left my position at the Center for Multicultural Excellence.
  • I moved back to St. Louis.
  • I have been catching up with friends at home.
  • I have been debating going to Las Vegas with some friends but plane tickets are really expensive.
  • I am trying to figure out my future – weighing options, balancing priorities, etc.
  • I have been applying for a lot of jobs and have had several interviews lately.  I am hoping that some positive progress might happen in regards to my future very soon.

That’s a lot.  And there is a lot more.  Hopefully, I will have time to post updates on life, what I am thinking, and interesting things I come across online.

Thoughts on Graduation

I graduated from the University of Denver one week ago today!  Wow!  I can’t believe it has already been one week!  It is amazing to me how quickly time flies.  I am incredibly behind on my blogging (which I hope to fix soon) so I missed blogging about commencement.  Instead, I want to share a few reflections:

I graduated with a MBA on Friday, June 3, 2011.  A Master of Business Administration degree.  Weird.  My dad tells me that I am the first person in our immediate family to get any degree beyond a bachelor’s degree.  That’s kind of cool.

A lot of people told me that a master’s degree was a big deal in the month or so leading up to graduation.  I didn’t really think of it that way.  After all, I just graduated with a bachelor’s degree a year ago.  This was just another year for me to continue learning, keep growing, and have the opportunity to meet some amazing people.  I guess it was all of those things, but actually so much more.  The MBA seems to already be setting me up and setting me apart for the future.

I was originally a management major before changing to international studies.  I then decided to move back to business for the master’s degree.  I made the right choice leaving business to expand my horizons and skill set.  I also made the right choice coming back to business. 🙂

I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people at the University of Denver.  I have been friends with many of them for four-five years.  Some I knew for several years, but really only become close friends with this past year.  I have also met some amazing people in my MBA program.  They might have had great experience and/or insight.  They might have been from another country.  I have tried to get to know a good number of the international students at Daniels.  I remember what it was like studying in a different country and I know that each of us has something great to offer.  However I met people and from wherever they are from, I am very happy to have had the opportunity to get to know each of the amazing people and friends this past year and the four previous years.

The hooding ceremony was interesting and a good close to my business education.  I’m glad the business students actually get to keep their hoods.  Who knows if there may be another degree in my future?  Commencement was a good end to my University of Denver education – an acknowledgement and a way of saying thank you.  I was happy to have many good friends close by and to be able to see both the Chancellor and the Provost at the end of my DU experience.  Both this year and last the Provost gave me a hug as I crossed the stage.  I appreciate that.  He has actually been one of the most influential people in my University of Denver career, providing academic and career counseling as well as being a key person for the work I have done on campus.

I was able to celebrate the end of my time at the University of Denver with some of my best friends from the past five years, as well as with many of the other MBA graduates over the course of my last week in Denver.

  • To my fellow graduates, however well I knew you: “Thank you for being a part of my education and my experience.  I appreciate everything you contributed to our successes and our community.  Congratulations!  We did it!”
  • To my friends: “Thank you for being a part of my life and for everything you do for me and for us.  I appreciate you more than you could know.”
  • To everyone: “Please stay in touch and continue to be a part of my life.”

End of Winter Break, Beginning of a New Year

[This post was written while on board a plane from St. Louis to Denver]

I am sitting on a plane again.  This time for domestic travel.  I’m on the way back to Denver from St. Louis for the beginning of Winter Quarter.  I’m also heading back to Denver at the end of my last winter break – and I have to say, I’m not a big fan of that one.  I cannot believe that winter break is over.  Simultaneously, I feel like winter break just began and has been going on for quite some time.  Of course, winter break has been about six weeks long and I have been to the other side of the world and back again – literally.

I have no regrets about this winter break.  While I would have liked to have had more time in St. Louis to spend with people, I had some amazing experiences that I would not have wanted to pass up.  In my time at home, I spent a lot of time with family – something I am very happy about.  As well, I got to catch up with friends all over St. Louis.  I traveled to Israel where I saw new and old sights, reconnected with old friends and made some new ones, and attended an amazing wedding.  I traveled to England where I traveled the country with a friend and saw some of the most amazing (and old) places I have ever been to.  I was able to experience England and what it has to offer.  I spent time looking for and Interviewing for jobs (hopefully with some results soon).  I did a bit of reading and time to reflect and prepare for the new quarter.

The past few weeks have taught my several things.  I can rely on my instincts.  I know more that I realize sometimes.  It can be okay to go with the flow.  While planning is necessary, some adjustments may be necessary.  Change is okay and can be a good thing.  Relationships may change and morph.  We have to be okay with this.  Friends and family are important.  Treat them as such.

I graduate from the University of Denver with a BA and a MBA at the beginning of June.  This June.  With two degrees.  Wow!  I cannot believe that 2011 is here; 2010 just flew by!  The first half of this year will be filled with what promise to be the most difficult classes I have taken in college.  This new challenge should prove to be of benefit to me and I plan to rise to the challenge and exceed all goals and expectations.

This year will also contain a major decision that will likely affect the rest of my life (the next few years, at a minimum): what job to take and what city to live in – the two are linked.  Everything I have done these past 23 years was effectively preparing me for this moment.  This year I will need to make a decision based on my past education and work experiences that will set me up for my future – work, friends, family, etc.  I do not take this situation lightly and I hope to make the right/best decision possible.  I pray that will indeed be the case.

Other than what I have written here, I do not really have any new resolutions for 2011.   I generally have the same goals for each year that will hopefully lead me to being a better person:

  • Try my best to understand people – i.e. increase my empathy and open-mindedness
  • Rely on my values
  • Do my best
  • Learn
  • Talk less about people behind their backs
  • Do what I can to make the world a better place
  • Be the best friend and family member that I can be and trust my friends and family
  • Be happy and healthy

I have no doubt that 2011 will be my best year yet.  They each get better and better.  Every year also seems to go by faster.  I hope that I will be able to create new memories and relationships and value and retain them all.

Happy 2011!