Skip to main content
The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
We All Get One Shot Twice

Gratitude spreads from CMU to the Grand Junction business community

Emilee Powell is the Executive Director of Housing Resources of Western Colorado and she shared gratefulness for the ability to receive second chances in life during the Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) annual summit meeting at Colorado Mesa University. Her sentiment was communicated in response to CMU President John Marshall's invitation for attendees to write down something they were grateful for in their lives, or in the community as part of his keynote address. During his keynote, President Marshall spoke to area business leaders about Colorado Mesa University projects, goals, achievements and values. Among the values he discussed were humility and gratitude.

"While we have accomplished many great things throughout the last several years, remaining humble and recognizing we don't always get things right is important," said Marshall. "There is always more we can do, and humility is an important aspect of leadership."

In addition to individuals, businesses and communities expressing humility, Marshall added that "gratitude for what we already have" is essential when prioritizing and working on collective goals and new community initiatives.

In 2022 CMU employee Jeremy Smith began work on a project that was originally meant to celebrate gratitude within his own department. He handcrafted a wooden box his colleagues call the gratitude box. Each week the CMU Marketing and Communications team begins their staff meeting by writing down something they are grateful for and putting it into the box before setting out the week’s priorities and goals. Smith spent several weekends creating the box while continuing his work and commitment to CMU as a graphic designer and coordinator of the CMU Rowdy Mascot Program. President Marshall shared the story of Smith's gratitude box and brought the wooden artwork with him to the GJEP conference.

Word of the gratitude box began to make its way across campus in the spring of 2023, and when GJEP heard about the campus's commitment to gratitude, the organization's director proposed that the business community also share in a moment of gratitude while on campus. "President Marshall was relaying the story to me, and I thought it might make for a nice moment during our annual meeting's programming," said GJEP Executive Director Curtis Englehart. "Gratitude is something we don't often talk about in business, but it is a sentiment that can make us all better."

After the summit programming concluded, Englehart randomly drew a slip of paper from the box. The note he chose was submitted by Powell who had written, “I am grateful for second chances and the fact that we get all get one shot, twice" — a reference to the song Two Shots made popular in a well-known episode of The Afterparty. The song explores the idea that many people like to think of success as being the result of getting a second chance in life. But Powell believes second chances are more complicated than that. "Getting second chances in life is about maintaining a positive attitude and remaining open to possibility even when we feel an opportunity has passed us by," said Powell.

In 2016 she had contemplated applying for her current position, but a range of personal life factors prohibited her from doing so. In 2022 Powell saw that the position was once again available. She applied and got the job. Hearing the words of Marshall, and taking the time to reflect on her recent "second chance," made Powell feel compelled to submit her experience for the community-wide gratitude moment.

Marshall believes that this concept of second chances is perfect for higher education. "Many people believe that if they didn't go to college right out of high school it's too late. Emilee highlighted how important it is to remind those in our community that whether you are 18, 28 or 48 it's never too late to get an education and that there is a place for everyone at CMU."

This year was the seventh annual GJEP summit and following the day's sessions on workforce development, real estate, education, key industries, and issues affecting the economic vitality and growth of the region the event wrapped up with an award ceremony and closing remarks at CMU's Meyer Ballroom. You can learn more about how GJEP is working to help people move here, grow here and live here on their website and be sure to put GJEP on your calendar for April of next year.


Written by David Ludlam