09 Nov Alumni Board Current Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2014 Scholar Morgan Smith
Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova.
What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating?
I’m interested in essentially everything related to local government. I’m primarily passionate about local economic development and urban planning, but I also am deeply interested in how local government can better address real problems that affect our neighbors and friends. I believe that local policy issues are sometimes talked about in severely removed terms: an affordability crisis, for example, is usually discussed in terms of “housing stock” or “rent increases,” when in reality, it’s about families and children being displaced from stable homes. I’m really interested in addressing those intersectional issues at a local level.
Tell us about what activities, groups, and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them.
My sophomore year I helped start Roosevelt @ DU, a chapter of the nationally networked think tank: the Roosevelt Institute. Roosevelt gets young people involved with local elected officials to push policy reform on important issues. I was drawn to Roosevelt because it was non-partisan and focused on making sure young people had a seat at the decision-making table!
I’m currently the student body president, and I love it. I focus on a lot of the same things as Roosevelt, but on our campus instead of our city or state.
Tell us about an important mentor you have had.
Nathan Hunt is the economic justice program director for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. He works with people experiencing homelessness, champions initiatives and is just an incredible all-around guy. I worked for Nathan this past summer, and he constantly challenged me to think in human terms: the margins, the homeless, the poor, and the foreign aren’t abstract groups and shouldn’t be described as such. They are as much human as we are and by removing our shared human connection when talking about it, we distance ourselves and presume we have no responsibility. He always challenges me to think deeper and act as such.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received has been from Mohammed Lotif, a staffer in Campus Life at DU: “Sit with the uncomfortable. Don’t run away from it: breathe through it.” I totally struggle with this, which is probably why it’s such good advice!
If you could have dinner with one or more people from history, whom would you choose and why?
I’d love to sit down with Teddy Roosevelt. Famous for his boisterous personality, I think he’d be a great dinner guest. He was a voracious reader, a dedicated conservationist and quite the thinker: I would love to just have a conversation with him and gain a deeper appreciation for his worldview.