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It’s not as much about a degree as it is the opportunity of the future.

But here is the crazy one. I have had this itch for the past couple of weeks to go back to school. Then, out of the blue, I heard about a degree that Western Colorado (or, Western State for those that have grown up in and out of the Gunnison / Crested Butte valley) is offering online. I can’t stop thinking about it! Western has been a school I have thought about often and I pretty much thought I’d end up there for my undergrad work before I landed at Belmont. Maybe now is my chance. Crazy.

Jason Duncan | A Thought Over Coffee | A Crazy Side Effect of Sheltering in Place | 4/4/2020

Can I “mind dump” for a minute?

WAY back in April of 2020, I talked about this desire to be back in school – to boast myself in a way that would prove positive for what tomorrow offers to me and a community I could influence for the better.

There are SO many options that have sparked interest for me. You see, for YEARS, I was so focused on one thing: creating a space for people to come together around coffee. That was it. Everything I did revolved around that and I did not think of much else.


During the time I ran my company, I had so many opportunities to fill other buckets in my life (and I can’t thank everyone enough for allowing me to be a part of so many different things!). From working with the City of Edmond to nonprofits to real estate and beyond, there are so many great avenues going forward. Things I could not focus 100% on with EVOKE but now could make a career out of.

But too many things?

Here are a few I’m looking at now:

Penn State University – M.S. in Community and Economic Development

Gain the skills needed to address the social, environmental, and economic issues in communities, towns, small cities, and urban neighborhoods. Community and economic development professionals help people build community capacity; develop sustainable communities; enhance the local economy, infrastructure, and services; and work with the community members to build shared visions of the future.

Penn State

University of Oklahoma – M.A. in Strategic Communication and Digital Strategy

Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Digital Strategy (MA-SC&DS) prepares graduates to create coordinated, proactive messaging campaigns for modern media channels in as few as 20 months. Students will learn to lead multi-channel communication teams, use research and data analytics to evaluate campaigns, leverage the power of social media to create communities, create content that tells impactful, memorable stories in digital market, and focus on essential professional skills as a strategic leader, including crisis communication, digital marketing, management and strategic planning.


Western Colorado University – M.B.A in Outdoor Industry

The two-year program includes an MBA Core as well as specialized tracks for either the product or service side of the industry. The MBA Core includes traditional MBA courses with content focusing on the outdoor industry. The Product Concentration has specialized courses in Sustainable Outdoor Product Development and Material Sourcing; Supply Chain and Logistics in the Outdoor Industry; and Sustainable Finance. The Service Concentration has specialized courses in Resort and Hospitality Management, Natural Resource Regulation and Economics, and Sales and Customer Experience.

Western Colorado

University of Central Oklahoma – Master of Public Administration

Now, more than ever, our communities need people committed to serving the greater good of society. The University of Central Oklahoma Master of Public Administration program prepares you to take a leadership role in public service, contributing to meaningful programs and advancements that make our communities thrive.

University of Central Okahoma

University of California Berkeley – Master of City Planning

The mission of the Department of City and Regional Planning is to improve equity, the economy and the environment in neighborhoods, communities, cities, and metropolitan regions by creating knowledge and engagement through our teaching, research and service. We aim to design and create cities, infrastructure, and public services that are sustainable, affordable, enjoyable, and accessible to all. Our goal is also to sustain a diverse, inclusive, and equitable department.

UC Berkeley

GRI / Brokerage Management / Real Estate Certifications / Social Media Management

While these all sound really excited, I have also really grown an interest in real estate and learning more about the work I am currently doing – mainly in the engagement, management, and communications with clients, cities, and other professionals. So, I have begun taking a few certification courses and could invest much more with that as well.

I am ready to learn more. To arm myself with tools and skills to really help make a difference. It is clear that any work I do will have to mean something more than just a career for me. Being an executive director of a nonprofit. Working with a sustainable outdoor brand. Helping creating strong towns. Work to me has always been about more than just the pay.

I don’t know what lies ahead for me but I do know that the future is bright and that knowledge is power!

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