Alumna Laura Straub was set on attending college outside of her home state of Colorado – but it took just one tour of the UCCS campus to change her mind.
“I strongly felt at the time that I wanted to go out of state and travel, with Arizona specifically in mind,” she said. “My mom urged me to at least tour UCCS and that I could still go elsewhere if I didn’t like it.”
“So, I begrudgingly went on the tour – and fell in love immediately,” she laughed. “It had the mountains right there, and my tour guide was very engaging and knowledgeable about campus and knew everyone that we walked by. That personal connection to both campus and the students drew me in right away.”
Laura, who graduated from UCCS with her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Economics in 2015 and MBA in 2022, wasted no time building those connections for herself, getting involved in all kinds of groups on campus. During her time at UCCS, she held multiple Student Government Association (SGA) positions and received a UCCS “Outstanding Leader” award for her work there; was part of the National Society of Leadership and Success; participated in the National Resident Hall Association and Resident Hall Association; spent time as an economics tutor, junior teaching assistant, resident assistant (RA) and orientation welcome leader; and acted as a member of the business professional fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and the volunteer/service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.
While this still doesn’t cover all of Laura’s campus involvement, it shows how much she took advantage of the available extracurriculars that helped shape her skillset.
“Many of the skills I built during that time are ones I use today,” Laura noted. “In Delta Sigma Pi, we networked with businesses and would bring them onto campus to do events and networking nights, often through cold calling, which is such a valuable skill that I currently use by contacting people and sharing the services I can provide for them. Being able to build that connection with a possible client and being okay with a rejection was a really helpful and impactful skill I learned.”
“I also held a role as Senate speaker,” she continued. “Leading the meetings and having that public speaking role was crucial in learning to be comfortable at the front of a classroom and speaking and networking. It also made me more comfortable with having healthy arguments and advocating for myself, others and change.”
Laura uses much of what she’s learned in her current role as Community Educator Lead at Ent Credit Union, where she helps teach community members about various financial topics.
“I get to teach financial education classes to the community, often through nonprofits, our workplace partners, high schools and colleges – which I love because it gets me back in a classroom setting,” said Laura. “I do a lot with our nonprofits within the community and try to get them the help that they need, whether it’s helping their members with budgeting or teaching them what a credit score is, or even topics like financial psychology and why we spend money the way we do. It’s super fun and so valuable, and the classes are all free and open to the community.”
With the passion and talent she has for helping others, it’s no surprise that Laura’s favorite part of her work is the community aspect.
“Being able to help my community and explore more of it has been so great,” Laura said. “It’s been so rewarding to help its members, still do work with students and to go out in different parts of our community that I never would have known otherwise. We’ve found, too, that there’s so many myths out there, especially when it comes to your credit score, so busting those myths for people and being able to give them the correct information to help them along their financial journey has also been so rewarding, especially since our classes are completely free.”
Laura usually teaches at least one class a day and often up to three, which allows her to keep a balance of routine and variety in her schedule.
“I usually start my mornings with meetings and check-ins,” Laura explained. “Making sure our financial information is correct and that our materials are updated, especially for classes like our student loans one where information is constantly changing. Then I’ll teach some classes of varying topics. For example, I recently taught at Peterson Air Force Base where I spoke about buying a car and the process involved, then conducted a virtual class with students from District 49 about budgeting.”
Laura fills her time away from work with pickleball, reading, spending time with her husband Chris (who is also an alum!) and their two dogs, Otto and Samantha, and curling with the Broadmoor Curling Club, which she encourages everyone to try at least once.
“Curling is so fun,” she said. “There’s Learn to Curl classes all the time, so come learn and try it! What I love about it is that you don’t have to be super athletic to do it, but if you are, then you can get more technical with the spins and moves so it’s a perfect mix.”
Since Laura’s time and effort in her extracurriculars and clubs were a significant part of honing the skills she now uses daily, she emphasizes the importance of doing so for current students.
“Get involved on campus,” she urged. “Whether it’s attending a game, joining a club or organization or even holding a student leadership or student employee position, just get involved in some way with your school. It makes all the difference in that feeling of connection. Mentoring is another great option, as having a mentor and being a mentor are both so rewarding. Mentoring a first-year student can be really helpful for you because you get to reflect on your time on campus as well and learn from that.”
Laura also noted how making those connections with your school and its community can make great memories from the past while paying off in the future.
“Developing those connections and mentor relationships will help you so much later in life. Allowing yourself to reach out to people and ask for guidance or advice is super important,” she said. “One of my favorite memories is the year I became Head Orientation Leader and was promoted to senior RA. They were such fulfilling achievements that showed I had done well in those positions and then allowed me to mentor the RAs, orientation leaders and new student employees in those roles and help them succeed while also ensuring our new students felt like they belonged within their home away from home, felt safe and had somebody they could turn to.”
Though Laura is clearly a great fit for what she does, it’s not the career she originally planned on pursuing. She had a much different path in mind for her future and mentioned how becoming more open to other options and adhering less strictly to her plan ended up helping her find her passion and reminds others that having some flexibility in life plans can help steer us in the right direction.
“I used to try to plan everything. I had a specific plan laid out from graduation to late career in corporate finance, and then realized it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I decided to go with the flow a little more and went in a totally different direction and now I get to do really cool, fun things every day and am much happier.”
About the UCCS College of Business
The College of Business was established in 1965 and has more than 1,300 undergraduates and 350 MBA students. The College of Business and Administration awards the Bachelor of Science in Business and Bachelor of Innovation degrees. The Graduate School of Business Administration awards the Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Accounting and Executive Doctor of Business Administration degrees. More than 10,000 alumni of the College of Business live and work around the world. Learn more about the College of Business at UCCS.