first_imgShare Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail For senior Annika Erickson-Pearson, using time in college to find her passion is vital. She has made it her full-time job to discover just that.“In college, you’re really free to do a lot and to stick your hand in every bucket. You’re going to find something that you’re willing to stay up until two-o’clock in the morning for,” Erickson-Pearson said. “That’s when you know you’ve found your passion.”The international affairs major from Littleton has spent the last eight months planning for this week’s annual Conference on World Affairs. Every year, the conference features panelists from all over the world to discuss topics ranging from climate change to song-making. Such an acclaimed event takes time to plan, which is why CU-Boulder students and community members have dedicated countless hours to prepare for the event.Despite the busy schedule and crazy days, Erickson-Pearson says it was all worth it.“I’ve never had anyone tell me that going to CWA was a waste of time,” she said. “It’s always a whirlwind of a week, but there’s a reason I come back.”Erickson-Pearson got involved with CWA on her second day at CU-Boulder and has been heavily involved since. She has held a number of positions from serving as the international affairs sub-committee student editor, to acting as this year’s interim advisory board chair. Engaging with the participants is what she is most excited about.  “They want to be here and they want to meet students. They want to get to know us and are so generous.” Erickson-Pearson said.Though she appreciates the opportunity for professional advice, Erickson-Pearson says she gets marriage advice too, which is a bonus. The conference is unlike others and attracts speakers without monetary incentive. In fact, participants pay their own way to Boulder. They do so to be a part of honest discussions on real issues, according to Erickson-Pearson.“The conversations that happen are unlike anything else. There are a lot of conferences where people are paid to discuss things with people only in their field,” Erickson-Pearson said. “That’s great, but that’s not what we do.”Not only has CWA provided Erickson-Pearson with knowledge and perspectives of participants, but it has also provided great relationships with CWA volunteers.“I have really found the CWA community members to be just phenomenal. The cohort of people who put on the conference are truly some of the most terrific people I’ve met,” Erickson-Pearson said. “It’s a real family.”Faculty members offer resources and support throughout the CWA planning process. Entrepreneurship Professor George Deriso is one of the faculty members who has provided useful tips. “Professor Deriso from the business school is wonderful,” Erickson-Pearson said. “He comes and talks to the student community about how to talk to participants.”Erickson-Pearson encourages students to attend the conference, which started Monday and goes through Friday. Students get priority seating.  “Our tagline is ‘Bringing the World to Boulder,’ and you have more access to these incredible, honest topics ranging from reproductive responsibility to the dating world in college,” Erickson-Pearson said. “We even have a panel about Tinder. It’s just that these people have such interesting perspectives.”Erickson-Pearson adds that CWA is a unique way to engage with Boulder.“Boulder is really cool! There are a bunch of really incredible and intelligent people who have lived their lives doing incredible things,” Erickson-Pearson said. “CWA is a great way to access that.”While Erickson-Pearson has loved volunteering for CWA, she advises students to utilize extra time in college to find something to be passionate about.“We have tons of student organizations. Take advantage of the people here and get out into the community.” Erickson-Pearson said.While preparing for her graduation in May, Erickson-Pearson weighs her options as to what she will pursue professionally. As long as she is serving the community, she’ll be happy.Erickson-Pearson said. “I am fielding a variety of options and opportunities ranging from teaching English in France, to working for a socially conscious start up in Boulder,” Erickson-Pearson said. “If what I’m doing is not somehow serving the greater community, then there’s something fundamentally wrong.” Published: April 7, 2015 last_img