CU Denver’s Residential Creative Community Gives Art, Film, and Music Students a Place to Live, Learn, and Thrive
The RCC provides first-year College of Arts & Media students a place to connect with fellow student creatives and scholars to learn valuable skills while enjoying life in downtown Denver.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Nov 18, 2022
Whether they are utilizing the music practice rooms or bouncing their story or song ideas off their peers, students can find inspiration and collaboration literally next door at the Residential Creative Community (RCC). Located in the City Heights student housing building on the Auraria Campus in the heart of Denver, the RCC makes a home-away-from-home for first-year students settling into a new city.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed living on campus here at CU Denver,” says Music Business student Dylan Gurnari. “Our school is home to some of the newest technologies and facilities, a very progressive lifestyle, and many of the most interesting and talented individuals you will ever meet.”
Gurnari is from Buffalo, New York, and found living on campus a necessity that has turned into a positive experience. Gurnari is also co-president of the RCC, sharing the role with fellow music student Ryan Green. Out of all the colleges at CU Denver, the College of Arts & Media (CAM) has the highest percentage of out-of-state students, and a lot of these students take advantage of on-campus housing. Eighty-two Music, Visual Arts, and Film & Television majors all find a home in the RCC.
Location: Campus Amenities a Stone’s-Throw from Downtown
The City Heights building opened in 2021 and was recently recognized by the Downtown Denver Partnership as a Downtown Denver Award winner. As a LEED Gold-certified building designed with equity, student success, and community impact at the forefront, City Heights was recognized for its contribution to the greater Denver community. “Living on campus is very beneficial to me,” says Green. “The location of City Heights is perfect, being right next to both the city and the buildings where I have class.”
Being so close to the heart of downtown Denver is something that attracted film student Angell Fioretto during her college search. Fioretto came to CU Denver from Texas and enjoys the view of Ball Arena from her dorm room, among other City Heights perks. “It’s cool because when you look around, you either see the mountains or the city,” she says. Plus, living on campus means the Salazar Student Wellness Center is only a short walk from your dorm room. This is handy, explains Fioretto, for when she wants to be around people, but she doesn’t want to socialize. Whether you want to take a group exercise class, sweat it out on the elliptical, take a swim, utilize the indoor climbing wall, or study in one of many cozy nooks, the Wellness Center is a great refuge for busy students. It even has a special nap room—extremely popular during finals week.
RCC Students Benefit From Mentorship
Plus, students in the RCC benefit from a handful of initiatives designed to help them succeed as they transition to college life and learning. RCC students are placed with another CAM student for a roommate. They also get to be involved in a monthly RCC meeting and community dinner, where they can hear from CAM faculty and staff as they present about their areas of study within the college. Focusing on individualized academic success, RCC students are paired with faculty mentors who can help them make decisions about career paths—both during and after college.
As a film student, Fioretto was paired with Professor Andrew Bateman, a senior instructor in Film & Television. Bateman typically doesn’t teach classes with first-year students, so Fioretto is grateful for the opportunity to glean his advice outside of the classroom. Other faculty mentors include vocal performance instructor Leslie Soich, music performance instructor Todd Reid, music business and performance instructor Andrew Guerrero, 3D Graphics & Animation instructor Jeremy Brown, recording arts professor Cecelia Wu, and art practices professor Melissa Furness.
In the first semester of their college careers, RCC students can take a first-year experience course (CAM UNIV 1110) at no cost. Specifically tailored to arts majors, this course prepares students for college success by teaching them about writing, critical thinking, and research, and more general, life-skills like time- and stress management.
One of the main concerns first-year students share is the desire to connect with fellow students and make friends. The RCC has helped there, says Fioretto. As a member of the University Honors and Leadership (UHL) program at CU Denver, Fioretto knew she would be taking some classes and interacting with students in pre-med or something similar, but she wasn’t sure how many other arts students she would encounter in that program. Through the RCC, Fioretto experienced a built-in arts community that made the transition to college easier.
Living and learning with other students who share their interests can be a novel experience for a lot of students initiating their collegiate-level studies in the arts. “I have been able to learn so much and expand who I am as an artist because of living near people with similar interests,” says Green.
Plus, with so many different students calling the RCC home, the experience is rich and varied. “With students from all over the country and world, every day is a new experience learning about different cultures, new music and art, creative outlooks, and even personal development!” Gurnari says.