Amid all the business types bustling around Salt Lake’s urban center, a growing population of students are choosing to live in the heart of the city. When they are not studying hard they are playing hard downtown and bringing a young, ambitious vibe to Utah’s urban center.
Florence Hernandez, 19,
Major: Computer Science.
Florence Hernandez moved to Salt Lake City sight unseen from Forth Worth, TX to pursue her computer science degree at Neumont University’s Main Street Campus. And although, she most likely has no idea who Mary Tyler Moore is, the vivacious 19-year-old certainly had her “Mary Tyler Moment” twirling in the streets of her new city streets last fall. “It was so clean and it was colder than where I’m from,” she says. “It felt so invigorating, like a breath of fresh air. Everything was so bright and roomy, I loved the energy. I really felt like I was starting my life.” Hernandez, who was a standout student back home, always knew she was going to leave Texas and says she chose Neumont because of its tech emphasis and accelerated three-year program. And she loves her school and quickly got involved, becoming Neumont’s first ever female student body president and quickly making friends. “In my first week I just knew everyone was like me, they didn’t know anybody either and I was just so excited and happy I think my enthusiasm helped me make a lot of friends,” she says. “Back home I was an outcasts my interests were so different but here there are lots of people who like the same things I do.” Hernandez lives near 300 South and 600 East and loves walking downtown to school every day explaining that she “grew up in this suburban area where it took a 30-minute drive to get anywhere, I love using my legs.” When she’s not hard hitting the books she’s exploring her new city. “There is always something to do, always a new place to discover, some little crevasse that becomes our new hangout spot,” she says. “It continues to blow my mind.”
Kris Boardman, 36,
University of Utah
Major: Business Communications
Kris Boardman took the long way towards finishing her degree. After high school in Ogden she started at then Weber State but realized she just wasn’t ready or focused enough to pursue school seriously. And that’s how Kris Boardman approaches everything: seriously. So she got a job working for international hotel company Wyndam and saw the world, traveling constantly for work. After spending her 20s in a corporate life on the road, she hung it up and took a year off to play. “I decided I wanted to travel for myself, and try new things,” she says. “I needed that break.” Then she got serious and headed back school with a decade of practical work experience under her belt. “The University of Utah is really good for non-traditional students,” she says. “They don’t expect me to join sorority or do a bunch of activities.” During her previous life she had lived near Trolley Square but traveled so much that she never really got to know the city. So when she opted to resume her studies she deliberately chose to locate herself in the artsy Pierpont Area of downtown. “I am such a city girl,” she says. “I love walkable neighborhoods and I love the buzz. I walk to the farmer’s market, to restaurants and like the sense of community here. I like knowing the restaurant owners and people at the businesses I frequent.” Boardman loves school and says she is glad she took the time to work and gain experience before resuming her studies. When she’s not hard at work on campus she’s on a trail run in Millcreek, getting her namaste on at Centered City Yoga and exploring her city. “Most of my friends live between downtown and Sugar House,” she says. “Everybody bikes to everything and I just love that there is this awareness towards greener healthier lifestyles. I like that that’s the norm here.”
James Goodman, 25
Utah Valley University
James Goodman loves Utah Valley University but he says he wanted to live in downtown Salt Lake. “I grew up in Orem but moved downtown five years ago,” he says. “I just love it and it’s worth it to me to drive or take the train so I can live here.” Goodman lives near the library and says it’s the perfect neighborhood for he and his husband Jeffrey Gomez. “We just love walking over the Les Madelines or stopping into Bar X, we can go to all the festivals and the farmer’s market, and the Gallery Strolls are always nearby,” he says. “ Christmas in SLC, is an especially special time for James and Jeffrey, who celebrate their wedding anniversary walking amid downtown’s Christmas lights. “It’s funny but when we bought our condo we thought we didn’t want to live in Utah forever. But I feel completely differently now. I could spend years here.” Salt Lake’s open vibe suits Jeffrey and James just fine and like many “new urbanists” he says they chose to live an “experienced-based” life. “We’re not paying for a big yard,” he says. “We’re paying for being able to walk around the corner to our favorite store. I don’t want to spend my time mowing a lawn or cleaning a big house. We want experiences.”