Commencement Profile: For Hayner, “quitting was not an option”

Headshot of Naomi Hayner with a blurred out picture of UCCS in the background.

Battling through the skepticism and fear, Naomi Hayner took a leap of faith into higher education. As a first-generation student, she had to fund her way through education with scholarships and perseverance.

“When I received notice of my acceptance into UCCS and multiple scholarship foundations, every negative notion subsided, and a sense of peace found its way into my heart and mind.”

At the start of her collegiate journey, Naomi found a passion for her program, inclusive elementary education, and found home in communities of diverse and passionate learners. “These scholarships created my home away from home.”

While taking 21 credits, working more than 20 hours a week and having just moved into a new home during the spring semester of her sophomore year, Naomi suffered the tragic loss of her brother. Many questioned if she would stay in school, or drop out and go home. For Naomi, quitting was not an option.

Through the hardship, Naomi still finished the semester successfully and even made it on the President’s List for the semester. She credits much of her success to the scholarships and leaders who pushed her to stay focused on what she has worked so hard to accomplish.

“I had people counting on me, who believed in me, and that was the biggest motivator.”

Having various mentors keeping her accountable kept the fight alive in Naomi and pushed her to continue to grow and pursue her degree. She continued her passion and was ready to prepare for her future.

Naomi found extensive growth through her last two years of college. Through networking, risk taking and developing herself as a leader, she has found great success through all of the struggles.

Naomi has used the scholarships, like the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, the Bruce and Anne Shepard Reach Your Peak Scholarship, the Schuman Scholar and the Will Fowler Memorial Scholarship, as a continual reminder that there are people who believe in her. They have been a motivator throughout the years and reminded her of the person she is seeking to become.

Upon graduation in May 2020, Naomi will have the opportunity to continue her passion working with students. Naomi plans to not just act as a teacher, but as a mentor and life leader.

She plans to bring support to her students, fight for their needs, bring awareness to the mental health crisis, and most important inspire her students to reach their highest potential.

“I now get to be the same support for my students that these scholarships have been to me.”