Nolan • Science Teacher, Yogi, Progressive

Nolan is an educator of color and wrestling coach in Denver. He is passionate about health, wellness, combat sports, personal growth, and enjoys art, nature, and nerdy stuff. Nolan is a three-stripe blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s also a yogi, and what started as a recovery practice has now grown into an exploration of styles and a new goal — to one day earn a yoga teaching certification.

Nolan grew up in Colorado Springs. While Denver is more diverse than the Springs, he still finds it challenging due to the lack of diversity, but with time and intentionality he has found many communities to be a part of.

Although not religious, he practices spirituality and believes there is a higher power out there somewhere. He has a soft spot for three-legged dogs, loves to cook, and is always open to receiving internet memes. Nolan is kind, encouraging, and has one of the best laughs I’ve heard in a while. When I asked Nolan to describe Denver in one word, he replied, “multifaceted”. Here’s what it means to be Nolan in Denver.

Who are you?

I am an introverted Black man. I am a highly sensitive person. I am a humanist. I believe in doing things that suit the human race, and right now our system isn’t built that way. I credit this way of thinking to my time at Landmark, teaching at Denver Public Schools, and plant medicine, which has expanded my consciousness outward past my self and toward others.

I am a scientist, so I observe the world and take in data. I’ve always been this way, and am specifically interested in how nature works. I am a deep thinker and pride myself on thinking differently.

I have been stifled most of my life, by self and limiting beliefs. Recently, I underwent a shift in perspective that has led me to live life more intentionally. However, I am still a fun-loving kid deep down inside.

What does it mean to be you?

It means to self-reflect, especially in how I interact with people. It means to do the best that I can. It means to stay grounded. It means to search for competition, solace, and truth.

What does it mean to you to be Black in Denver?

Denver is my home. To be me here means to have a lot of communities that I belong to. It means that I have created the opportunities to enjoy what I want to enjoy. I’ve made life what I want it to be.

What do you love most about living in Denver?

Denver is very liberal in its laws, which allows for more freedom, maybe more than anywhere else in the country. This city has a cool vibe and is an awesome city to be in and brings people who are also opened-minded. Whatever your flavor, Colorado has a community for you — you just have to find it.

How have your experiences in Denver shaped you?

Denver has been awesome to me. I’ve matured here. I came here because a college friend shared an opportunity with me. Denver is where I got my start in education. Stay long enough and you’ll start to recognize people. I’ve loved, I’ve lost, and I’ve grown. Most of all, Denver feels like home.

Also, since there are so few educators of color they really value you and what you can bring to the table. Denver has provided me with many growth opportunities. Primarily Landmark which is located in Highlands Ranch. Going through some of Landmark’s programs really helped me evaluate my belief system, see the world with a fresh perspective, and self reflect on what values I deem important. It wasn’t easy but it was eye-opening, and I’m glad I went through the process.