When Bunny Beers walks across the CU Denver graduation stage on May 13, she’s completing an academic journey that started more than a decade ago.
Beers, who grew up in the Globeville neighborhood, graduated from high school in 2006 and began college that fall at University of Colorado Colorado Springs as a first-generation, Hispanic student. She liked school and was interested in studying marketing, but as time passed, her life priorities shifted towards buying a house, starting a family, and paying bills.
A few years later, now living in Estes Park, she found a calling as a public servant working in local government. “I would have never in my life thought I would be working in public service, but when you find something you are passionate about, it’s easier to see your path forward,” Beers said.
The idea of returning to school didn’t seriously resurface until Beers attended a Colorado Municipal Clerks Association Conference in 2018, where she happened across a CU Denver recruitment table. “My boss was there, and she convinced me that if I ever wanted to be a town clerk that I needed to look into it, see if I could transfer my credits, [and] get a scholarship,” Bears explained. “She is the one that pushed me, encouraged me every step of the way. She is not just my mentor; she is also my friend. She made it just a little bit easier to have confidence in myself.”
Beers applied to CU Denver and enrolled as an undergraduate student in the School of Public Affairs’ Public Service Program—while still working in a highly demanding job in the town clerk’s office. She took two in-person courses, but opted for online courses to accommodate work and family (not to mention avoiding a commute that is 65 miles each way).
Plus, the ability to pick an academic program that allowed her to balance and blend, work, school, and family was ideal. “Being a non-traditional student has its benefits,” Beers said. “I didn’t have to wait to apply concepts I was learning. I could apply them in real time in my public service position: ‘I just learned this yesterday. I can apply this today.’”
As she worked toward her BA, Beers was also building her career with additional professional certifications through the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. She earned a certified municipal clerk designation (CMC) and plans to pursue her master municipal clerk (MMC) designation in the near future so she can continue towards her goal of one day becoming a town clerk.
Trying to balance life wasn’t always easy, especially when she pushed to take a full load of courses while trying to stick with the original graduation timeline she set. But that experience also helped her learn about herself. She could do it, but it was also OK for paths to deviate. “I am learning to be kinder to myself,” Beers said. “Things will crop up that can slow you down and that’s OK. The only way you don’t succeed is if you stop taking steps forward, even if they are baby steps.”
Beers hopes that her determination will inspire her 11-year-old daughter to work hard, engage in public service, find her own passions, and get an education. “This degree is important for my future goals,” Beers said. “[My family has] made sacrifices for me to do this and it’s important for the entire family to celebrate me finishing what I started. I am seeing it through.”