News / People

Graduate McCutcheon sees busy summer ahead

Just listening to Ericca McCutcheon’s summer plans is exhausting.

The senior, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with minors in economics and leadership, already has been accepted into a program at the University of Notre Dame that will give her a two-year scholarship to earn her master’s degree in education.

She started there in late May and will fly back to Denver for DU’s June 4 Commencement. That’s the end of her DU journey and the beginning of another. And what a ride it’s been.

“It has been such a busy time,” McCutcheon says, then adds, a bit wistfully: “I was hoping in May maybe to slow down.”

But it sounds like this modest, soft-spoken young woman is just getting started.

As a member of DU’s Pioneer Leadership Program, McCutcheon has completed numerous leadership activities at the school and in the surrounding community. She was named DU Leadership Student of the Year and attended the Colorado Leadership Alliance luncheon in April.

She is a diversity fellow in DU’s Office of Admissions, “focusing on inclusiveness”; she’s an resident assistant in Nagel Hall; she has completed a research project through the Partners in Scholarship program that she presented on May 5; she is a Puksta Scholar who worked on several projects designed to teach young girls to become “strong, smart and bold women”; and she was a member of the Undergraduate Student Government as a freshman and sophomore.


As Linda Olson, director of DU’s Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP), says, “Ericca’s got a strong, reflexive thoughtfulness about her. She’s not quick to speak but is thoughtful and considers number of factors when she does speak and contribute. She’s very centered in service and giving back to her community. Not focused on herself, but always the community.”

Indeed, the community has been where McCutcheon has been most comfortable, since she began volunteering in high school for projects with the youth ministry of her church in Denver.

“When I was 18 and 19, I was driving kids to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City for the summer. We would take about 30 youth there. I really was able to explore both my faith and being kind of young and growing and developing myself.”

She says the highlight of her experience in the PLP came at the April leadership luncheon attended by students from all the leadership programs at Colorado colleges and universities.

“I was so inspired by the passion that all of these students had, and how they would talk about their interests,” she says. “It was wonderful to be able to connect with people that have a sincere understanding that they have the power to change the world — very knowledgeable of their capabilities and passionate and relentless in their desire to initiate change. It was incredible to be in a group of leaders.”

McCutcheon also was offered a Teach for America position before graduation, but had to choose between that highly competitive program and Notre Dame’s. She flew to South Bend, Ind., the weekend of April 15-17, knowing she would accept Notre Dame’s offer.

“I knew that I would be going there, and the retreat was kind of a final moment to be able to meet the people in my community and who I’ll be living with when I go to Jacksonville (Fla.) and to really get a feel for the University of Notre Dame campus also.”

Yes, Jacksonville. She explains the program: “A majority of the classes are taken during the summer at the University of Notre Dame … from May until the end of July, I will be on campus. And then starting in August, I move to Jacksonville and I’ll be teaching fifth grade at Holy Rosary Catholic School. So I’m very excited about that.

“And while I’m there teaching, I will also have a mentor assisting me in teaching the students there, and I will be taking online courses that will direct me and assist me in this new path of teaching young students.”

Working with young people is hardly new to McCutcheon, who has been mentoring and guiding since she was very young herself. And perhaps her most important role — that of big sister to siblings Bryce, 7, and Miyah, 4 — along with her experience, helps makes her something of an expert in the field. 

She brings to that field sincerity and intensity: “Just every opportunity I’ve found, especially for young girls, is a passion of mine, because I really appreciate that connection that I can have — understanding where they’re at, where they’ve been. And I love encouraging people; that is just a highlight for me, to be able to constantly remind people that they’re valuable and capable. Because often we are our biggest critics. We’re so hard on ourselves. And just to have that opportunity means everything to me.”

DU’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony will be 9:30 a.m. June 4 at Magness Arena. For more information or to watch a live stream of the ceremony, visit the DU Commencement website.

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