How CU Denver’s Flexible Learning Options Helped Transfer Student Andrea Albo Pursue a Public Service Career

January 22, 2024

It would be an understatement to call Andrea Albo’s workplace busy. Denver International Airport, where the CU Denver alum is the deputy chief of staff, serves nearly 80 million passengers a year. The international hub connects Denver with more than 200 locations around the globe. And Albo, who was born and raised in Denver, is part of the leadership team that makes sure that the airport runs smoothly. It’s a job that was decades in the making.  

Albo grew up in in the Valverde neighborhood, west of downtown Denver. Her family—especially her mother and grandmother—had a strong history of public advocacy, neighborhood engagement, and giving back. Those leadership examples helped set a course for Albo’s public service career.  

But as a first-generation student, she was forging a new path. “I was the first person in my family to go to college,” Albo said. “As the ‘first,’ I had to learn how to navigate a world I didn’t know—while working full-time. I needed a degree program that would work with me, on my time, at my pace.”  

After earning an associate’s degree, Albo transferred to CU Denver. The university appealed to her because of its flexible learning options for all learners. She could hold down a full-time job, start a family, and take classes. “I didn’t have a traditional college experience,” Albo said. “I was a transfer student. I didn’t join a sorority. I didn’t live on campus. Now, I know that the beautiful path I took is as unique as my DNA is. My journey is my journey, just like your journey is your journey”  

She found a mentor in Dr. Joy Berrenberg, who encouraged Albo to join Psi Chi, the psychology honor society of which Albo ultimately became chapter president. “I remember my first class with her,” Albo said. “I think she had a knack for seeing unique qualities in students and using those qualities to challenge you in a way that pushed you into a place where you could grow and thrive.”  

Albo graduated with her bachelor’s in psychology, with honors, in 2005 and worked at Denver Human Services and as the first chief of staff for the Denver Sheriff Department (during her tenure there, the department implemented more than 400 reforms). In 2019, she saw an opening at the airport for a senior vice president of culture and strategy. The role oversaw things like wellness, engagement, equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and business development. It also allowed her to lead efforts to create a Center of Equity and Excellence in Aviation, a first-of-its-kind division in the industry.   

CU Denver helped launch my career in public service.

–Andrea Albo

Even as her role has evolved, Albo continues to use her psychology degree every day. “It helps me meet people where they are, build connections, and work for change,” she said. Additionally, by investing in herself, Albo has seen how the power of education can change a person’s life. “I wanted to go to CU Denver because I knew a college degree would help me find financial sustainability,” she said. “And it has. CU Denver helped launch my career in public service.”     

She’s helping spread that message today. In particular, as the airport grows—it generates more than $36.4 billion in economic impact for the state annually—the needs for an impactful workforce also increase. Albo is working with CU Denver to identify areas for growth, including options like micro credentials, internships, apprenticeships, and more. “Things that give you lived experience to decide, ‘Is this the path I want to go down?’” Albo said.  

She sees a CU Denver education as a powerful way to transform your life and create deep impact. “My life is full of moments that are part of a collection,” Albo said. “At CU Denver, that was flexible programs, a strong alumni network, and fellow students that could relate to the story that I carry every day. All of those things connect. All of that adds up to transformation.”  

—Additional reporting and writing by Kristin Goosen