April 15 , 2022 | NEWS | By Sabrina Brewer | Photo Courtesy of Sierra Romero
Sierra Romero ’22 discusses her first year at CC, watching her dad run ultra-marathons, and the CC arts and crafts community. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“I don’t really know how my dad got into running. I think he just wanted to do something to challenge himself. And it was ultra-marathon running. I think when I was like 11 or 12, he ran Leadville first and I remember going up with him being a little crew member.
Right before COVID, I went up and I filmed them, the whole process of it. I was doing it specifically for my work to do one of those videos about tips and tricks of running as a blind or visually impaired runner. I spent a lot of time just following him around, paying extra attention to crewing, basic things like that.
I asked him things that most people overlook without even realizing or just wouldn’t even consider. I asked him more about night blindness because part of ultra-marathon races, unless you’re superhuman fast, you’re going to be running through the night. He’d have a guide, wearing reflective gear on with their ankles so that way if he was looking down, he could see that with the light. And then he would also have the guide call out like “rocks” or if they were going to turn, “a little bit left” or “veer this way.” Basically, every single auditory call out you could think of which is kind of crazy because that means that you’re putting all of your trust in another person, and they have to be aware enough of their surroundings and call it out as it comes.
I always have such happy memories whenever I go to those events. Leadville, the first time I went, one of my cousins came out and I hardly ever talked to him before, and we would just sit there at night and curl up in the sleeping bags on the floor and just play little stupid games that we made up. In Puerto Rico, I remember my dad’s first Ironman. We’d had a chaotic morning, running from these dogs and my brother getting pinched by these crabs and, you know, all these things that could go wrong. But when you’re in that atmosphere, and you’re sitting there and everybody else is so high energy and everybody’s anticipating whoever it is they’re there for, it’s just a very nice environment. Just a good space.
I remember I was in Serbia over this past summer, and when I first got there, obviously I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t speak any Serbian. And I felt alone in a way. But I remember I woke up one morning and one of their national marathons just happened to be going on that day through the downtown. And I remember sitting there the entire race just watching people come in, and it felt like exactly like home. That was the very first thing I did when I got there that comforted me and got me acclimated.
I ultimately decided to go to CC because of the block plan. I thought it was just fascinating. But then I got here, and I hated CC. I think that was partly basic transition into a place, but I also felt like there was just shell shock. There’s just so many different people that came from so many different backgrounds and experiences here and everybody seemed to have connections to one another by some way, like through a summer camp or through a school. And I just realized at that moment that I was completely alone in this space.
It was maybe right before the first block break ever and I was just asking people in my class. “Oh, what are you doing for block break?” And one of them told me about heliski which I had never heard of before. So, I went back and I googled it and you know, it’s you rent a helicopter to take you up the mountain to go skiing and I think at that moment, I was like wow, we come from completely different financial backgrounds. I don’t know, that’s just something that’s so unrealistic to me that the fact that that was somebody’s block break just made me think like, how can I relate to some of these people on CC campus.
My first year, I took a lot of poli sci classes, and I think that was also kind of disheartening at times to see people debate basic human rights or things that I always kind of had as a value to myself of something that you just don’t argue about and seeing it being thrown up in the air in a class. People’s lives being toggled with so easily. It felt like I was in disbelief constantly when I would leave class because I couldn’t believe some of the conversations that were happening.
I’ve kind of acclimated to CC or found ways to deal with it. It made me, at least that first semester, not want to speak up in class because I felt like, if I was to share something personal, like an anecdotal story or something else, it would just get ripped apart.
I’m definitely much happier at CC now. Obviously, it has a lot of problems still. I kind of decided near the end of that first year, well, I’m here for at least another three years, if I don’t like how it’s going right now then I need to change something or just switch it up a little bit. That kind of inspired me to try to do something a little bit different every day, do something a little bit new. Make myself feel a little bit more a part of the campus. I would try to get involved in things I never thought I would get involved with, like CCSGA.
I learned that at least in certain settings as soon as I see something that I completely, blatantly disagree with, and I could tell the conversation’s just gonna go nowhere, I put up a boundary right there. Make it really clear. Being more verbal and expressive about what I’m feeling. What I stand for, what I don’t stand for.
My 7th Block class, I remember the first week on CC campus they had us run across and take over an intersection when the lights were red. And we had to do some type of performance in front of all the cars. You’re sitting there and these cars are honking at you or somebody’s flipping you off. And I was realizing, well, you know, I’ve broken every potential feeling of embarrassment that I’ve ever felt. So now I’m fine. If I could do that, I think I can handle being a little bit more verbal about things I feel.
I would plug the CC arts and crafts department. That was one of the best things that I got out of CC. People kind of hear about it with the quirky shoe lineup story that they used to have, but it really is a great space and it’s open to absolutely everybody. It’s one of those spaces that you enter and all these other heavy stresses or worries kind of disappear.
There are these really good moments, really good people that you just never would have come across otherwise. And I feel like that makes it all worth it. But it also comes with the frustration of dealing with an institution that doesn’t always see you as an individual. Kind of just drops you off and expects you to thrive without giving you resources. Sometimes you have to seek them out. Sometimes they just don’t exist. You have to make them, create them, or find them off campus.
I admire my friend Nicole so much. She’s taught me that if you want to see something and it doesn’t exist, go do it. Which is something that I’m actively still trying to do, but she very much has that attitude and behavior on CC campus. And you see it showing up, she’s brought so many new things to CC, and just making it a better place.”