Alumni Career Panel – Finding Your Path

For the Senior class, Launch Week is a chance to prepare for life after Colorado Academy, and alumni have become an important part of the process. Six alumni professionals shared their stories of college and career. Some left CA with very specific plans–college, grad school/med school, job. Others’ paths took many unexpected turns with career changes along the way. Success came to each of the speakers, even though their routes were different.

Amy Livingston ’93 has more than 25 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and clients in a variety of fields and locations around the world. Livingston is the Director of Summit Philanthropy where she advises clients in philanthropic investments in the United States and abroad. She also serves as the President of Global Health Foundation, which invests in innovative solutions to improve the lives of people living in under-resourced communities around the world.

Livingston holds an MA in International Development with a Certificate in Global Health Affairs from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and a BA in International Affairs and French from the University of Colorado Boulder. Along her career journey, Livingston served as a professional staff member, consultant, member of the board of directors, graduate intern, and volunteer in locations from East Africa to the East Coast and back to her home state of Colorado.

Livingston suggested that the Seniors take advantage of all opportunities to grow their skill sets, gain real world experience, and expand their networks. In her experience, a track record of proven success in cultivating and sustaining professional relationships will result in a strong and supportive network that opens the door to new opportunities.

Cazes Martin ’98 won the Jennifer Wu Fellowship in 1997 and used the stipend to attend a four-week program, “Explorations in Architecture and Landscape Architecture” at USC. He said growing up he always enjoyed building things and exploring how things go together, so a degree in architecture from Cornell University was a fortunate and natural progression. During college summers Martin worked construction and interned in Architecture firms in the Vail Valley, as well as spending a summer studying architecture in Iceland, Norway, The Netherlands, and Switzerland through Cornell’s study abroad program.

Wanting a more holistic view of the design and construction process after college,  as well as access to the ocean and some adventure, Martin and his girlfriend, now wife Amanda, moved to St. Thomas where he joined an established firm specializing in high-end custom residential and hospitality work. There Martin oversaw projects from design conception through construction and experienced the “big picture” perspective of developing projects. After one year he transitioned to working as a finish carpenter on the island, which evolved into a design-build relationship with the shop’s owner.

Starting in 2006, Martin returned to Denver working for a series of Architecture companies from small boutiques to large firms, and most recently SA+R where Martin was an integral part of the four recent projects on CA’s campus, the Ponzio Arts Center, The Welborn House, the Athletic Center, and the future Leach Center for the  Performing Arts. In 2018, Martin started his own firm, Engine 8, where he works with Amanda who leads the creative side of the their Interior Design work. His advice, do what makes you happy, trust your instincts, work hard, and take some calculated risks – and find and trust “your” people. He has remained close with his CA friends whose life perspective remains an integral part of navigating his life and career.

Dr. Alexis Ritvo ’01 followed in her parents’ footsteps, becoming a psychiatrist. Following graduation from Harvard in 2005, Ritvo attended medical school at Emory, receiving both her MD and Master of Public Health degrees in 2012. She returned to Colorado to complete her four-year Psychiatry Residency at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. In her last year of residency, she was the Chief Resident of the UCHealth Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. She then spent one year completing an Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship at CU before becoming a faculty member with the CU Department of Psychiatry. Currently Ritvo teaches and clinically supervises psychiatry residents and addiction psychiatry fellows. She also provides care for patients who have co-occurring substance-use disorders and other psychiatric disorders. Read more about Alexis Ritvo in this edition of the CA Alumni Newsletter.

Jared Ritvo ’01 was unsure of his career plans following graduation from Colorado College in 2006. He lived and worked one winter at Alta Ski Area in Utah. While at CC, Ritvo had a history professor who took students to Brazil for the summer. He enjoyed the country, so he decided to get a job teaching English in Brazil for six months. That led to his graduate program at Stanford in Latin American Studies. He says networking with a former classmate helped him find a position in Brazil as a logistics project manager for a company involved in shipping windmill parts for wind energy farms. He became familiar with shipping and port surveys and enjoyed the work in Brazil until his visa ran out, and then he was transferred to work on projects in Iowa.

Ritvo took a Spanish immersion course in Argentina before making the decision to get his law degree at CU Boulder. He also worked as a law intern at a large law firm in Argentina during one summer while in law school. Ritvo graduated from CU Law School in 2016 and was a family law judicial law clerk in the Colorado 17th Judicial District Court before opening his own family law practice. He finds the work appealing for the opportunities it provides to aid people who are going through difficult times.

At the time he spoke with Seniors, Ritvo was about to become a participant in Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice (“LEJ”), a program helping lawyers build sustainable legal practices by providing predictable fees to clients, through using alternatives to the “billable hour,” such as flat rate and unbundled flat-rate services. LEJ participant-lawyers focus on providing services to the many people in Colorado who need legal services, but do not financially qualify for pro bono services and cannot afford an attorney who bills by the hour at standard market rates. Ritvo encouraged Seniors to cultivate genuine relationships and real friends, look for resources in their career field, and use what they have.

Murphy Robinson ’02 has had many, many jobs which have all led him to his current position as the Deputy Mayor of the City Denver. Murphy has always valued the mentors he’s cultivated throughout his career. His advice for Seniors is to do the same, find mentors. Read more about Murphy’s path to success.

Brandi Wolff ’02 spent a lot of her time at CA in the theater. No surprise, she attended the University of Southern California, majoring in Theater and International Relations. Shortly after her graduation, the great recession hit, and she needed a job. Wolff’s theater skills—communication, connecting with people, and being creative—proved invaluable in the events industry. She worked from Santa Barbara to Simi Valley in the event industry as an account manager. What Wolff came to realize was that in the world of business, your college major doesn’t matter. She was working non-stop as an account manager for PR + Marketing for tech companies, including ghost writing for executives, when she decided to move back to Colorado and start a new chapter of her life. Wolff got her real estate license and is now a successful real estate broker. Her advice to Seniors: Be proud of every job you do, as you’ll have many different roles on your career path; hone your social skills, build relationships, and put yourself into everything you do.

Final thoughts:

  • Use your CA friendships.
  • Look for leadership opportunities.
  • Don’t be too concerned over success and failure.
  • Everything is a learning process, so take a lesson from everything.
  • Gain insight into yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. People love to help.
  • Stick your neck out and don’t be scared of taking a risk.