It’s hard to find even one person who hasn’t been significantly impacted by the events of the last 14 months.
That’s exactly what led FRCC graduate—and current University of Colorado-Denver student—Shane Still to launch a project showcasing some of the challenges that millennials and Generation Zers have been dealing with during the pandemic. Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month in May, he’ll share 31 stories of 31 people—an initiative he’s titled 31 Days Denver.
Shane is working on a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication at the same time as his Bachelor of Fine Arts (with a photography emphasis). So it’s fitting that his project will share stories of people’s mental health journeys through audio storytelling and digital imagery.
It All Started at FRCC
After graduating from Broomfield High School in 2015, Shane wasn’t certain what he wanted to study in college, but an education was important to him. “I live near Front Range and started college there, just planning to take some general education classes while I figured out what I wanted to do,” says Shane, who is a first-generation college student.
But after one communication class with communication faculty lead Chelsea Stow, he was hooked. Soon, Shane took a class with Brandon Stow, another communication faculty member at FRCC (and Chelsea’s husband). “They are caring and insightful people who put a lot into teaching and helping students. They helped me a lot and their teaching really sparked my excitement for this field.”
Following the Transfer Pathway
Shane set his sights on CU Denver’s communication program—and before long, was also considering a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) with a photography emphasis. (He’s been doing photography since high school.)
He soaked up as many communication classes at FRCC as he could, completed the Associate of Arts degree with communication designation and transferred to CU Denver in fall 2017. He says the foundation he built at FRCC was excellent. “I really was well prepared.”
For a while, Shane’s intent was to pursue a career in marketing or public relations, finding a way to incorporate his photography skills into his work. But as he was starting his senior year, when the topic of his BFA capstone arose—and the coronavirus pandemic raged on—Shane knew he had a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges facing so many during this worldwide crisis.
31 Days Denver
For the last six months, Shane has been interviewing and photographing friends, classmates and family members who have struggled with mental health, anxiety and depression. His focus is on Millennials and Gen Zers, who make up a large portion of the US population and are at high risk for mental health issues.
“My plan all year was to unveil 31 Days Denver during Mental Health Awareness Month as a way to connect people to mental health resources,” he says. “This idea has evolved because I have had mental health issues myself and I feel like we’re in a time where many people are struggling because of the pandemic.
“I want to tell the stories of people who have been affected because I feel like it’s so important to talk about this right now. We need to be there for each other, and talking about these issues is a good way to spread awareness.”FRCC Alumnus Shane Still
Funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program
Shane received a grant funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at CU Denver, which supports original student-driven research, creative, and other scholarly activities under the mentorship of a CU Denver faculty member.
“My CU Denver professor Carol Golemboski is my mentor and has been there for me every step of the way,” Shane says. Organizations like Hope For The Day, Mental Health Center of Denver and Colorado Crisis Services are supporting the project as well.
Back at FRCC Chelsea Stow stays in touch with Shane and has been cheering his project on from the bleachers. “Shane was one of those students you want to work with again and again,” she says. “I watched the light bulb turn on and I knew he was on his way to do something great in this realm.”
As for 31 Days Denver, Chelsea feels confident it is a launching pad for great things for Shane. “Shane has always loved the fine arts and he’s a very articulate person who loves artistic projects. As a photographer, he is skilled at capturing powerful stories and sharing them through the lens.”
“We all love the power of good stories, and he’s been so passionate about this idea of recognizing humanity. It’s awesome to see, and I can’t wait to see where he takes this.”FRCC faculty member Chelsea Stow
Following His Heart
As he nears graduation, Shane admits he’s not certain where he’ll begin his career after graduation, but he wants to manifest his love of the arts into a job. “The dream career would be in mental health advocacy and storytelling,” he says. “Since I’ve been interviewing people to prepare this project, I’ve come to realize that younger adults need a mental health advocate. I could be that voice. And I’d love to be.”
Shane credits FRCC with much of his success. “Without FRCC, I definitely would not be where I am right now,” he says. “It’s a welcoming place with such awesome people. There, I figured out the direction I wanted to go. Through the caring guidance of Chelsea, Brandon and other instructors, I found my love and passion for working with people.”