Where are you from originally?
I am a Colorado native, born and raised in Arvada, a northern suburb of Denver.
Where are you going to school, what is your major, and how do you intend to use your major?
I am back at school pursuing a master’s in real estate and the build environment. I currently work for a company that owns and operates mobile home communities around the US and I hope to become a more integral part of the acquisitions and redevelopment team.
Tell us a little bit about your family and friends growing up, and any positive effect that they had on your willingness to work hard.
I went to a K-8th Catholic grade school where teacher, parents and classmates were involved in everything. Everyone played sports and participated in the annual play, and I had incredible teachers who pushed us from a young age. The message from all the adults was consistently ‘push yourself to try new things, you are your only limitation!’. I remember, as a 7th grader, taking speech and debate as one of our afternoon electives. Our teacher assigned us 4 different speech types over the four-week section. For the demonstrative speech, the challenge was to keep talking to the audience while demonstrating whatever skill you were speaking about. I choose to make chocolate chip cookies in front of the class and my speech started with an egg rolling of the table and cracking all over the floor. With a single ‘keep going’ nod from my teacher, I tried (less than gracefully) to roll through. I found a rhythm and finished the rest of the speech without incident. When I was finished, my teacher smiled and said, “in life, eggs will break on the floor all the time, for everyone. The power you have is how to handle that adversity. Will you throw up your hands and be done, or will you laugh and keep working?” That mantra has applied to my life more times than I can count, and I am eternally grateful for my junior high teachers for encoring me to work hard to push through even when a situation is tough.
When was it that you realized that only you could be responsible for your future, and in what ways did you take control of your life after that?
In addition to awesome schoolteachers and coaches, I have incredibly supportive parents. My plan for college was to get a business degree and go on to dental school and ultimately run my own practices. In undergrad, it turned out that I was great at business and not as strong in the science realm. My parents encouraged me to keep an open mind and to go after what I enjoyed rather than the plan I had…well…thought I had. When I did not get into Dental School, my parents once again encouraged me to explore every possibility in front of me. It was that week of my rejection that I sat back and started to evaluate what I actually wanted to do with my life. I realized that I loved working with people, and I was strong in my business studies. That combination alone opened a WORLD of possibilities. Letting go of ‘The Plan’ to instead enjoy the journey has given me freedom to explore my passions. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.
Do you have any mentors who inspire you to work hard and chase your dreams today?
If so, who, and what do they mean to you? My maternal grandmother was a teacher for 40 years and ran ‘The Mother Goose Book Shop’ out of her home. She inspired my love of learning. My volleyball coaches from middle school all the way to high school encouraged me to work hard and to take goals one step at a time. Finally, my parents, who told me from a young age that I could be or be anything I wanted and have supported me every step of the way.
Are there any causes that you feel strongly about, that you would like to give back to someday, or that you’ve been able to help out so far?
I am a huge proponent of elementary, middle and high school athletics. I participated and now coach and thing that everyone should try a sport at least once. Team sports teach you to overcome adversity, teamwork and communication skills and individual sports teach positive self-talk, intrinsic motivation and accountability. I plan to give back in both time and money to local sports foundations in my area.
What keeps you motivated through long weeks of work and study?
I stay motivated remembering my ‘WHY’. I started graduate school to open career advancement opportunities to support my family in the long run. I have a wonderful husband, a 2-year-old and we are in the process of adopting our second child. I want my kids to have every opportunity available to them not only because our family is financially secure but because they have two hard working parent role models.
Why do you think it’s important for today’s undergraduates to have a clear understanding of debt and finances?
Debt is a sneaky thing. In the comparative social media world we live in, it is easy to rationalize over spending on everything from education to vehicles to vacations. There are promises of low payments, low interest rates and government forgiveness to make a huge financial decision like going into debt seem like no big deal or like the only option. What I want undergraduates to realize is this:
1. There are always other options outside of debt
2. Finances are scary and uncomfortable for most people, learn to be ok with uncomfortable and ask for guidance from more than once source. To know what your money is doing gives you control of your finances, not your finances control over you
3. Debt (in most cases) rarely favors the borrower (aka the student), if you have debt of any kind, dig in and get out of it ASAP – it will give you incredible freedom and peace of mind to be out from under any lender’s thumb.