Dan Ajamian had given up on education. During his college years in Philadelphia, he volunteered at an inner-city school, where the challenges were so daunting that he lost hope for the future of the system. But after returning to Colorado Springs and working for Keith King’s campaign in 2013 for Colorado Springs City Council, Ajamian’s interest in and passion for education returned. Now he works for the Douglas County branch of King’s Colorado Springs Early Colleges, where he serves as academic dean. Ajamian, 24, is also a board member for the Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy and chairs the County Commissioner District 5 board for the El Paso County Republican Party. He spoke about why he returned to the West, his political interests and what he sees in years to come.
Tell us about your background.
Most of my life was spent in Colorado Springs. I went to Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy from kindergarten through eighth grade. … Then I went to Palmer High School and did the International Baccalaureate program. I graduated in 2008 and went to the University of Pennsylvania and studied philosophy, politics and economics. After that I attended the John Jay Institute, a leadership training institute for people who want to go into public leadership. … I came back here about a year ago and immediately got involved in the City Council campaigns of Keith King and Deborah Hendrix. … I wanted to go into some sort of political arena, but always had an interest in education. So I asked Keith King if he had any positions at Early Colleges and he said yes — he didn’t have a specific position in mind, but they were working on starting the Douglas County branch and he knew they would need help. I helped run the Education Center up in Castle Rock … before we started transitioning to the Parker campus.
What is your day-to-day like at Early Colleges?
What I do now is what I’ve been doing for the past year, which is a little bit of everything: registering students, advising students, cleaning bathrooms, lots of technical data stuff and paperwork for the registrar, answering questions for parents and informational meetings. Now I’m transitioning more toward the development of curriculum and instruction.
Why did you return here after college?
I love Colorado Springs — this is home. … I think it’s a great place, and I like our political structure here. I know there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but all of my family is here. If I wasn’t living in Colorado Springs, I would be living in Philly.
How is the environment for professional development here different than in Philly?
I think it is harder to get into that system there because it is so large. Here in Colorado, especially in the charter school movement, it is so easy to be entrepreneurial and to get in at the ground level with something new. … I know that I wouldn’t be at the place I am now in Philly; maybe because the market is more saturated there. I think the fact that our population isn’t as dense or as concentrated gives young people great opportunities to step up and take leading roles. I wouldn’t even be able to do this stuff in Denver, and that is an exciting aspect of this city. There are so many chances to get involved and be a mover and shaker.
Tell me about your goals and your future.
At least for the short term — five or 10 years — I would love to continue working in education. The opportunities that the Early Colleges system provides are amazing. … I could see myself doing that for a while, or even for the rest of my life. I do have an itch to pursue something in politics down the line, but probably not for another 20 years. nCSBJ