Written by Nicole Militello, University of Denver Senior Media Relations Specialist
First published by the University of Denver Newsroom
Kyle Speller is no stranger to the University of Denver campus.
“I could kind of say I almost grew up on that campus,” he says.
Since the soon-to-be alum moved to Denver in 1979, he’s marked milestones along the way on DU’s campus. First as a drummer in the Denver Junior Police Band that played at DU hockey games in the 1980s, then for his basketball games, his kids’ basketball practices and family graduations. But this Friday, when Speller steps foot on DU’s campus, the milestone will be all about him.
“This one is really special,” he says. “Wow — it’s what I’ve been waiting for. I’m so excited about this one. I think more than any graduation that I’ve been a part of — my undergrad, the University of Phoenix [graduation for a master’s degree], my high school … all of that.”
Saturday marks the end of a four-year journey to earn a second master’s degree, this one in strategic human resources, with a concentration in learning and development from DU’s University College. And for Speller, the past four years have been quite the balancing act.
“I always say I’m keeping the plates spinning,” he says. “In my enrollment here at DU, I’ve done all my program online, which allowed me the flexibility to be able to do everything else I needed to do as well.”
And by everything else, he means his role as student and full-time employee at Comcast. Plus, Speller is a dad to three, a husband of 24 years and an associate pastor at the Emanuel Christian Center. Denver sports fans might recognize his voice from game nights. He’s the public address announcer and team chaplain for the Denver Nuggets — one role that made his balancing act especially tricky during the pandemic.
After COVID-19 halted all sports, the NBA decided to resume basketball several months later with the bubble system. Only the teams, coaches and core staff were invited to Orlando to eat, sleep, practice and compete in a strict lockdown mode with frequent testing. Speller was invited to be one of the few announcers to go to the bubble, a three-month commitment.
“I was in the bubble announcing games, doing homework and also working as well,” Speller says about the summer of 2020. “When other people were waiting around for the games to start, I had work to do. I was away from my family that entire time, but [class work] actually helped the time fly by.”
That work, he explains, helped him refine his career ambitions. As a longtime employee with Comcast in the HR space, he discovered his passion for facilitative leadership in DU’s program. The program also helped him succeed in his current position as a lead trainer for the company.
“There was one class that asked about our future plans,” Speller recalls. “We had to write about that. I think in that moment is where I wrote down I would love to move into an actual facilitative leadership role within a corporate setting to make an impact. And that’s exactly what happened in January. I’m excited about it. This program is what really led me there.”
Aspiring to be an impactful leader is what motivates Speller to continue learning and advancing his knowledge.
“One thing we say all the time is just that everything rises and falls on leadership,” he says. “if you want to make an impact on a company or an organization, if you lock in on the leaders, that’s what’s going to trickle down and make an impact on the rest of the body. That’s what will move organizations forward. That’s what will move families forward. That’s what will move so many different areas forward: leadership. And that’s where that passion comes for me.”
Of the many skilled leaders and instructors Speller encountered at DU, one stands out: professor Gaulco in the organizational leadership program.
“He was just tremendous,” Speller says. “He doesn’t even know it, but he was a huge blessing and an encourager for me. I’m so grateful for him.”
As Speller gets ready to embark on life as a DU alumnus, he is counting the many ways the University has shaped his life.
“I’m coming away from this feeling like I’m part of a community that I’ve never been a part of before,” he says. “Every time I step by the campus or drive past it on I-25, I look over like, ‘That’s my school right there,’ and I’m proud.”
Graduation Story: In His Own Words
Kyle also provide University College with a Graduation Story in his own words on his education journey to graduation!
My name is Kyle Speller. I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. Having spent most of my youth in Denver, I consider Colorado home. I am a new Leadership Trainer for the Comcast West Division – and have been there for 5+ years. I received my undergrad from Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, and I also received an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
I am a 50-year-old working adult. Considering all the experiences, strengths, and skills I have accumulated, I have discovered one of the areas that drive my passion is the area of leadership development.
I have had the opportunity to serve in numerous leadership roles, and value the importance of leadership. In my opinion, leadership is about impact. Everything rises and falls on leadership. The success of any program, business, team, etc. will be established through leadership. Before now, I have not had much experience in Human Resources, so a lot of times, I find myself at a certain level of disconnect with my co-workers and stakeholders.
This is where University College has come in. When I found the Strategic Human Resources program with the Learning and Development concentration at University College, after viewing all the course content, I immediately knew this is the program I need to help me accomplish my long-term goals.
Something interesting about me is one of the other hats I wear is I have just completed my 17th season as the Public Address Announcer and 15th season as the Team Chaplain for the Denver Nuggets. In 2020 for the NBA restart, I was selected to be one of 4 PA Announcers to call the games in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, FL. And I was selected to be one of the 2 Announcers to stay for the entirety of the season. It was a huge honor to be a part of such a historic event and I truly enjoyed the journey. Most recently, I was also selected to be one of the PA Announcers at this season’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland in February.
This has been a 4-year journey for me and there have been a lot of challenges along the way. Through the grace of God, I have been able to persevere, and I am extremely grateful.