As an MSU Denver student, Erika Church organized a range of campus events—anti-war protests, Confronting Racism conferences, the Women and Art Festival. She won the MLK Student Peace Award in 2003 for “Outstanding Commitment to the Greater Good.”
Now, several years later, she’s still organizing for the greater good, only this time her energies are directed at the basis of all life—water.
Church (’05, IDP) is the assistant director of the One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship. She is helping OWOW Director Tom Cech develop a pilot water studies minor through the Individualized Degree Program. She’s also responsible for creating and managing water conservation events and activities that raise awareness.
“Water is essential to human existence and Colorado water is especially important to me. It’s the right thing to do—to be a part of creating resource security in a world that goes to war over natural resources,” Church says. “Providing clean, fresh water to all human beings is a big goal—but why not think big? I think our students are up to the challenge.”
As a student, Church studied women’s studies and community development through the Individualized Degree Program. “Getting an education for me was not only about job skills and career paths, but about understanding the complex lives of my fellow human beings,” says Church, who recently joined State Sen. Mike Johnston’s citizens’ cabinet as a member of the education policy committee.
In 2001, in her first year at the University, Church was hired to be student coordinator for event planning at the Institute for Women’s Studies and Services and in 2007 became program manager for the Institute.
In 2010, she completed her master’s degree in education with a focus on adult learning, training and development. The same year, she joined MSU Denver’s Center for Individualized Learning, where she worked as a degree-completion and student-reentry coordinator.
As part of her OWOW duties, Church is lining up speakers for the upcoming school year to address issues such as melting glaciers, fracking and biomimicry—a new science that studies nature’s patterns and then imitates and applies them to solving human problems.
Church says it’s all about doing the right thing.
“Once you learn about an injustice or a need that is not being met you have to be a part of the solution,” she says. It’s an attitude that has rubbed off on her 3-year-old son, Jude, who attends the Auraria Early Learning Center.
“He told his classmates to turn off the water faucet when not in use, and to save water!” Church says.
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