Like many others, Sami Meyer came to Colorado Springs for sports, but stayed for the people.
“You really do get to meet people so quickly here, and the people are genuinely looking to help others succeed,” Meyer said. “I’ve had so many amazing mentors in Colorado Springs.”
Meyer, 24, moved from her native California to attend UCCS on a softball scholarship. A stint as a student assistant to the College of Business’ marketing communications specialist turned into a full-time role once Meyer had earned her bachelor’s degree in business with a dual emphasis in sports management and marketing.
“It was a good change for me,” Meyer said. “Being in higher [education], I love to communicate student success stories and all the exciting things that the college is doing.”
Meyer talked with the Business Journal this week about mentorship, her work with Aspiring Change Makers and why UCCS has grown into more than a commuter school.
Talk about your responsibilities at UCCS.
I manage and implement all the marketing initiatives for the business college. I work with specific departments to help manage their marketing strategies. That could take any form from program recruitment, internal and external communications, branding — I get to do a lot of different things, which is what I love about it.
I was the marketing assistant when I was a student, so I was working for this position. [Former marketing communications specialist Eric Nissen] was an incredible mentor for me in that role. When I graduated, he moved positions on campus, so the College of Business gave me the opportunity to step in that role.
What are you most trying to communicate about UCCS through your work?
I think the people at UCCS — the staff and the faculty — are genuinely so student focused. It’s such an incredible environment for a student to go through, and I have that perspective as a student who was recruited through athletics, a current student, an [alumna] and a current staff member. … Our class sizes are small, and I think that’s one of our greatest advantages because students get that interpersonal relationship with faculty and staff, and they get to pursue passions and opportunities that they probably wouldn’t be able to at a big university. You’re not just a number.
I would also say that the business school in itself is really community focused. … We have a new program [that] connects students from the minute they get here on a career path to internships, mentorships, and then hopefully a successful transition from college to community. So you get to go into the program, find what you want to do, intern and try it out, and then have a mentor in that industry, so it’s hopefully setting our students up for more success.
Talk about your involvement with Aspiring Change Makers.
When you’re a student in college, you have this community of people who are just like you … and you get to share those experiences — highs and lows — with them. Then all of a sudden you graduate, and if you’re like me — I love all of my colleagues, but they’re all 10 years older than me, and they’re in a different life stage than I am, and I don’t work with any other marketing professionals directly in my business unit, so I was really missing that sense of community and connection that I got when I was in college.
So when they launched Aspiring Change Makers… I immediately identified with what they were trying to do, which in the holistic sense is trying to connect and engage young professionals in Colorado Springs. That could take any form. You could be interested in environmentalism and sustainability, and someone in that group is probably sharing the same passions as you, and we can come up with some way to make your passions happen.
… There’s really just a ton of different ways that people can get involved in Aspiring Change Makers, and it’s constantly evolving. I think that’s the beauty of it, is just to connect people and make an impact on the city that we all love.
Can you tell us about that impact?
For example, some members are focused on the environment and because of their interests, we have hosted trail clean-ups and introduced our most recent project: Save the Trees, which connected volunteers and organizations to help clean up debris from the Black Forest fire and raised money for families in need. The Black Forest Fire in 2013 was the most destructive forest fire in Colorado history and we are still seeing the ramifications of it today. We were able to collaborate with Hope Restored and Black Forest Together to make a direct impact on our region and help the families that were impacted by these fires. This was a community effort and while it was a small contribution, it made a huge impact on the families affected and we are so proud to be a part of these ongoing reforestation efforts.
Are you involved in the community in other ways?
I joined the Winter Night Club this year. I’m their secretary, and I love the group. … It was started back with Spencer Penrose, so it has such an amazing history in Colorado Springs. It’s based off getting people together to learn about a different topic and have a great time enjoying each other’s company. We’ll have people come in that want to talk about AI, or bring in a historical perspective on an issue. … I really enjoy that.
… I’m also on the College of Business Young Alumni Group. We founded that around the same time Aspiring Change Makers happened. When I went to Aspiring Change Makers, I noticed that there were so many of those professionals that are from UCCS, and even more from the College of Business. … We all had a passion for making an impact in the community, and UCCS is such a big part of that community that we wanted our voices heard in the grand scheme of the College of Business. We have an advisory board, but it didn’t exactly represent what young alumni were doing. Now we have more of that voice and we’re trying to get more of this massive group of College of Business alumni that are in Colorado Springs but aren’t necessarily connected to UCCS.
Is it especially important for young alumni to stay connected to their alma mater?
Absolutely. I think that when I was a student, to be able to see what I could do immediately after I graduated would have been such a positive thing to see. … It just gives you that sense of opportunity. We’re all here and we know what they went through, because we went through the same college as them and maybe had the same classes. We can form that mentorship bond. We can help them get connected in Colorado Springs.
It’s not hard to get connected, but you have to really put your foot in the door to do it. The graduates that just recently went through it have that ability to identify with them on a different level than other alumni might be able to.
Mentorship seems like a recurring theme for you.
Yeah, I just had some amazing mentors when I was in college and I think that’s so essential to developing as a professional. When I was a marketing assistant in college, [Eric] essentially trained me for that role. I got that role because of the mentorship that he gave me and showing me the higher education perspective, and really the scope and application of marketing in a real role — because you can learn it in class, you can learn the theories and the research, but it’s completely different to translate that into a full-time position. … I think mentors are just so important when you’re starting out as a professional and throughout your career.
… I currently have a student assistant, so it’s like this full circle thing for me. … I’m hoping that I can do the same for her, to help her in her career and help identify her passions. I hope I can be supporting her throughout her professional stages, just like they did for me.
Any final thoughts?
The more people get involved, the better. This community is great at rewarding people who get engaged and volunteer and make an effort to make an impact in the community, and if you just put your foot out there, there’s so many different opportunities that just open themselves up, and the people are always there to support you. You just kind of have to do it.