Wartburg West was never an ‘if,’ but a ‘when’

Brothers Alex ’21 and Jacob ’19 Buchheim shared quality time during Alex's stay in Denver, Colorado, through the college's Wartburg West program.
Brothers Alex ’21 and Jacob ’19 Buchheim shared quality time during Alex's stay in Denver, Colorado, through the college's Wartburg West program.

By Alexa Ganzeveld ’22

When Alex Buchheim ’21 talks about his Wartburg West experience, he can honestly say it was like none other. Buchheim, who is majoring in journalism and communication, spent the summer of 2020 in Denver, Colorado, and though the experience wasn’t exactly what he had planned for, it was special in its own way.

“I was uniquely privileged because my brother (Jacob, a 2019 Wartburg graduate) and a lot of other Wartburg alumni I know really well live out in Denver, so I was able to explore the city with them,” Buchheim said. “We visited local breweries; went on a lot of hikes; took a trip to Moab, Utah; and even saw some national parks. Half of the experience of going out to Denver for the summer was that I didn’t have to just go for a run or lift weights. I could go for a hike and get in a workout.”

For 20 hours each week, Buchheim worked as a philanthropy communication intern at the History Colorado Center, where he helped with grant writing and restarting the museum’s Community Business Partners program.

“Nonprofits have been a little nervous about bringing in new people because right now, even more than usual, every dollar is so important, but I loved it,” said Buchheim, who was encouraged to pursue a career in fundraising by his colleagues at History Colorado. “That was awesome, but I don’t know what I want to do. This didn’t make that decision any easier, though, because now instead of just looking at journalism and communication stuff, I’m looking at fundraising jobs, too.”

Despite the obvious ways his experiences in Denver were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic — masks were required everywhere and music and sporting events were canceled — Buchheim said he would still recommend spending a summer in the city through Wartburg West. At the end of the day, not even COVID-19 could impinge on his favorite memory from the summer.

Alex Buchheim spent his summer interning at History Colorado Center through Wartburg West.
Alex Buchheim spent his summer interning at History Colorado Center through Wartburg West.

“It was the last morning in Denver, and I woke up at 3 a.m. and drove to Estes Park to do a hike on my way out of Colorado. I hiked one of the most popular trails and saw the sun rise,” he said. “I did it completely alone and didn’t really tell anyone I was going to do it, I just did it and it was awesome because it totally encapsulated everything I thought about the summer and confirmed for me that I wanted to live in a place like this, where I am able to do things like this on a whim.”