While growing up, Samir Mohamed saw the hardships his parents, who are immigrants, faced running a small Ethiopian restaurant/coffee shop business in Aurora, Colorado. This insight piqued his interest in entrepreneurship and business and motivated him to apply to college to study business at the Community College of Aurora before transferring to study finance and information analytics at Leeds.
“I was so intrigued by the impact a small business could have on a community,” says Samir. “I saw the difficulties that come with being small business owners, and this is why it is my goal to become financially literate and learn more about the legal system here in the United States.”
In the future, Samir’s goal is to attend to law school and ultimately use his knowledge to help small businesses thrive. Specifically, he hopes he can help other small business owners who may struggle with language barriers and/or lack or business experience and formal education.
“I aspire to give back to the type of businesses that helped shape me into the person I am today,” he says.
And Samir is absolutely on his way. From two internships for a Fortune 500 company and travels to Spain, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan to serving as an executive member of the Leeds Student Government, Samir is gaining valuable experience about business and life and helping give back to his school community. His next adventure lies ahead this summer in California, where he will be interning with the Capital Group as an investment operations analyst.
We personally are inspired and can’t wait to see where the future takes him.
Data Scientist, Line by Line and future Associate Developer, Infosys Ltd.
For up-and-coming data scientist Yasmine Ben-Brahim, mentorship has been central to her professional journey since her first year of college. Originally from Austin, Texas, she got involved with Leeds’ mentoring programs in her first semester and stayed connected throughout her time at the business school. All three programs were impactful and priceless preparation for her future career.
“All of my mentors were very knowledgeable, patient, and passionate about watching me succeed, which encouraged me even more,” says Yasmine.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Yasmine faced a bleak job market just as she was graduating. She immediately applied for Leeds’ new Adopt a Business Buff mentorship program and was partnered with David Saitowitz, a portfolio manager based in the greater New York City area.
Saitowitz helped her focus her interests and goals and build her confidence before introducing her to some of his tech and startup connections in Los Angeles. Talking with them helped her realize what type of companies she wants to be a part of and how important understanding their organizational culture can be to your success there.
Yasmine was also able to gain experience working in data science remotely via these connections and build her resume, while keeping her focus on the Big Apple. She recently landed a full-time associate developer position for Infosys Ltd. and will moving to Manhattan in January to start her new role.
“I am very excited about my future, and I owe a debt of gratitude to Leeds mentoring. Everyone should experience at least one of the programs in their time at Leeds!
Retail Banking Intern, KeyBank
Oluwabunmi had no plans of staying in-state after graduating from high school in Aurora, Colorado. Yet, after participating in Leeds’ Summer Bridge and Business Leadership programs before her freshman year, she changed her mind. At Leeds, Victoria joined the Diverse Scholars Program while simultaneously tackling an internship at KeyBank.
“Without these programs, I would have not been familiar with Keybank. I got to learn about their culture and values even before I started my internship with them.”
Future Financial Analyst at Allstate
Rachel Wilcox has worked hard to finish her degree strong this May despite living in a house with nine other out-of-state students and managing ADHD, which makes it challenging to focus on online classes. Yet, Rachel has already secured a job after graduation as a financial analyst at Allstate’s West Central Region, starting in July. Even with her career path set, her top priority was to do well in her classes and finals, a true reflection of her strong character.
Future Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company
As a member of Leeds highly selective Scholars program, Sarah maintained 4.0 GPA while dual majoring in Finance and Marketing, and pursuing both a Certificate in Technology Arts and Media and a Minor in Leadership. She was also a part of the President’s Leadership Class and Leeds Consulting group. These are just a few of the reasons she is the recipient of Leeds’ 2020 Academic Excellence and Outstanding Marketing Student Awards.
Sarah didn’t stop there. Her passion for learning led her to internships at both Magic Flight Studios and McKinsey & Company, where she gained insight into the consulting world. In fact, these experiences landed her a full-time position as a Business Analyst at McKinsey in the fall.
"In these internships I learned more about the consulting industry, researching and synthesizing information into valuable content for clients,” she says. “I love to engage both creative and analytical thinking in order to accomplish tasks and solve problems.”
On and off campus, she’s enjoyed getting involved in the community and taking on roles that allow her to contribute to and improve organizations while building her leadership skills in teams.
What’s next for Sarah?
"I am excited to have the summer off to hike, spend time with family, and then start working and learn about various industries [at McKinsey].”
When the coronavirus outbreak impacted those in her community, Sammy jumped on the opportunity to help a local foundation feed families in need.
Many families in her hometown of Vail rely on the public school system to provide their children with regular lunches. With recent school closures, many of these families are now struggling to put food on the table. The Vail Valley Foundation and Youth Power365 set up a drive-through and two grab and go locations where families can get as much food as they need every day. Sammy is helping to make food and hand out lunches in her local school district.
Most summers she works for the Vail Valley Foundation at the performing arts amphitheater. The foundation reached out to all previous employees to volunteer.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to get involved,” she says. “I feel very lucky to be able to give back to the community that helped raise me, especially during a time where the only thing that people should worry about is keeping their families healthy.”
She has become a master of sandwich arts in this process, having personally made hundreds of PB&Js in a manner of weeks
While working as a veterinarian on the Front Range, Dr. Sarah Stafford realized that she wanted something more. That’s when she decided to pursue her MBA at Leeds.
“I realized a business degree would open opportunities to work ‘behind the scenes’ in the veterinary industry, shaping how veterinary industry organizations function and influencing how we provide compassionate veterinary care,” says Sarah.
This summer, she had the opportunity to intern with Destination Pet, a veterinary practice and pet services business with 60+ hospitals/pet resorts under their management.
“It has been exciting to get a higher-level perspective on the veterinary industry and how business decisions are made outside of the day-to-day clinic functions. I am so thankful for this experience, and I think my education thus far at Leeds has positioned me well.”
Director, Digital DTC Merchandising, The North Face
One of the greatest lessons that Emily Etzi will take from her time in the Evening MBA program at Leeds is the importance of community and having a personal support system.
"We aren’t meant to go it alone,” she says.
Indeed; we are not. Over the past two years, Emily’s professors say she’s an outstanding Evening MBA student, who showed tremendous leadership within her team and always contributed thoughtfully to all discussions within her classes.
She’ll graduate this May as a top student and is planning to continue to grow and develop in her career with The North Face. After graduation, she’s looking forward to, “taking a moment to celebrate this milestone and reflect on—and be glad for—all she has learned and the lasting relationships she’s built [while at Leeds].”
To Emily, achieving her graduate degree is “proof that we can achieve our dreams if we are prepared to make sacrifices and remain steadfast in our pursuit.”
We totally agree. Congratulations, Emily.
Assistant Professor of Accounting
When Dr. Henry Laurion was a student at Leeds, he recalls his professors emphasizing practical and theoretical knowledge—but not without also mentioning personal integrity. Just over a decade later, it was that culture of integrity and values at Leeds that brought Henry back to Boulder and Leeds.
“I think instructors convey personal integrity through having human connections with students,” says Henry. “Leeds has the type of environment that promotes human connection, which is not something that all schools have. It’s nice to have the opportunity to take what I learned [at Leeds] and pay it forward to future students.”
Henry currently teaches Full-Time and Evening MBA Financial Accounting courses, in which he has students examine public companies’ accounting and finances. He describes his teaching style as real, interactive and practical, and it’s apparent. He incorporates current events and students’ experiences to guide discussions because he believes it makes the material more engaging.
“I think conversation is an effective way to learn course material.” His students agree. In spring 2020, they recognized him with the MBA Teaching Excellence in a Core Course award.
Clinical Programs Manager at DaVita
Dialysis patients are some of the greatest at risk of COVID-19. Casey Bergeron and her team at DaVita Kidney Care have been working tirelessly to make sure these specific patients get the care they need during the pandemic. They coordinate travel and appointments of nurses and technicians, who they fly into areas heavily affected by the coronavirus across the U.S. to relieve local dialysis teams. These health care workers provide life-saving treatments that these patients may not otherwise receive without this help.
"To date, we have sent in nearly 100 nurses and technicians from all over the U.S. into the Northeast, all coordinated by our team here in Denver,” says Casey.
Associate Analytics Consultant at DAS42
When CU Alumna Cassidy Stearns returned to the university to pursue her MS in Business Analytics at Leeds, she had almost no background in analytics. Yet, having majored in both Chinese and Russian Studies as an undergraduate, she quickly applied her aptitude for foreign languages to programming. Cassidy excelled in her courses and became a leader in her cohort, which is why she was named this year’s Outstanding MS in Business Analytics Award winner.
"I came into the graduate program at Leeds without any coding experience but am leaving as a proficient programmer in three distinct languages, two of which I will use every day in my career,” says Cassidy.
As she leaves Leeds to pursue an opportunity in analytics consulting, she advises students to practice getting uncomfortable, asking for help and making strong connections early in their careers.
"I truly believe the only reason I got where I am today and is because I made strong connections with companies, professors and faculty within the first few weeks of beginning classes. Asking for help and putting yourself out there can feel uncomfortable, but it's absolutely worth it. It allowed me a wealth of opportunities.
"If there's one thing I've learned from this program, it's that relying on other people only makes me a better version of myself.”
Future Corporate Finance Consultant at FTI Consulting
Leanne Sigman is this year’s recipient of the Undergraduate Impact Award. A member of Leeds Scholars, Delta Sigma Pi and the Dean’s Leadership Fellows, Leanne’s strong connections to the Leeds community helped her start a number of projects and events in the Boulder area.
"One of the most meaningful experiences of college was establishing the 1st annual KidsTek Leadership Outreach program to help underprivileged high school students achieve higher education.”
Having interned for two summers with Transamerica in Denver, Leanne will graduate this May with degrees in both Finance and Accounting alongside a certificate in Business Leadership. She leaves Leeds to pursue a career as a corporate finance consultant at FTI Consulting.
Project Manager for University of Southern California (USC) Student Health and Program Manager for True Connection
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Katie has been participating on a small team that manages USC’s "COVID-19 Hotline" email—an "ask me anything" resource for the university’s community to seek guidance and clarity around the rapidly evolving situation. From 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, her team works to ensure the most urgent inquiries are answered and resolved as quickly as possible.
"This has been an incredibly rich experience that has forced me to draw on my ability to empathize, problem-solve, communicate effectively, and connect with others,” says Katie.
“We receive inquiries about everything from reimbursement policies to medical processes to concerns/challenges with online learning. It's exhausting and rewarding to know that we can make a difference just by providing as much clarity as we're able in such an uncertain circumstance.”
Katie also works with True Connection, a Los-Angeles-based nonprofit focused on empowering teens through SEL (Social Emotional Learning), art and meditation. While her business background helped facilitate their operations, she’s been able to take on the teacher role as well. Katie’s worked with LAPD Youth Service Officers and fifth graders from South Central LA in improving their emotional intelligence.