Published: May 15, 2020 By

At CESR we love working with students.  They are so many things: passionate, insightful, forward-thinking, courageous and determined. And in this graduation month, we are proud to introduce you to three CU Boulder grads who have so much promise we can’t wait to see what they do. All of these students earned the Social Responsibility and Ethics (SRE) Certificate, and share a passion for impactful work that they nurtured while in school.

Laurel Esstman

Laurel EssmanLaurel originally wanted to be a teacher because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. By junior year she had switched to marketing and operations, with a minor in education. Business felt like a natural fit - both of Laurel’s parents, and her brothers, all have business degrees. But Laurel wanted to bring her focus on making a positive contribution to her community to her work in business. The SRE Certificate allowed Laurel to do exactly this. 

Through the Leeds School of Business Laurel participated in a program called Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa. Through EESA she worked with entrepreneurs, helping them with business solutions. One of her clients was a bakery operating out of the owner’s house, and the other was an app company that wasn't yet profitable. After coming back from South Africa Laurel signed up for the SRE Certificate. A lot of the classes, like project management, allowed Laurel to plan her own projects on topics she wanted to learn more about. She gravitated toward corporate social responsibility (CSR). Her favorite class was Business Solutions for the Developing World because it was about using business in real world situations and it built on her hands-on experience in South Africa.

Another program Laurel took advantage of is the Certificate in CSR (CCSR), an executive education course offered by CESR. She was the first undergrad to participate in CCSR, which is more typically for folks already in the workforce. CCSR gave Laurel a network of like minded people who all wanted to work in the same field. And it gave her clarity on the importance of a triple bottom line. 

For Laurel, sustainability is just a way of doing business. She believes in bringing everything she has learned into whatever position she has, and making the most of the opportunity. One benefit of the SRE Certificate is that it exposed her to more concepts that could be used in the business world. Going into college, Laurel had an idea of what she wanted to do but she didn’t know how to achieve it. The SRE Certificate helped her understand how business can be used as a force for good.


Anthony Ortiz

Anthony OrtizAnthony grew up in Fort Collins and graduated high school with an International Baccalaureate degree which set him on track for a 3-year college degree. Originally, he considered going out of state for college, but after visiting CU Boulder he realized he could get everything he wanted right here in CO: new friends, new experiences and new opportunities. 

The outdoors has always been a big part of Anthony’s life. He is a talented fly fisherman and that led him to a deep concern for river systems and watersheds. He developed a conservation perspective early on. After considering a degree in science, Anthony realized that a business degree would take him into any field he decided to pursue and majored in finance. 

He chose to get the SRE Certificate while working for a nonprofit called Wyoming Wildlife Federation. He knew that he was going to do some sort of certificate and was leaning toward SRE when he learned that his internship in Wyoming counted toward the experiential learning requirement. It was an easy decision for Anthony after that. His advice to students considering an SRE Certificate is to do something similar to what he did; find a course that overlaps with other requirements, such as Sustainable Operations (which can meet an ops requirement) or Leadership Challenges (which is also an honors class), and try it out. 

Anthony liked how the SRE courses had connecting ideas that gave the program an overarching identity. He also appreciated how his SRE classes - Leadership Challenges, Sustainable Operations, and Business Solutions for the Developing World - focused on people. While Anthony loves finance, he acknowledged that it can feel like a lot of math and following rules. Life is a lot more than that. 

For the moment, Anthony is looking for a job that will give him experience in an impact oriented business. Someday Anthony would love to work in South America, a landscape that has captured his imagination. For now he is excited about the outdoor and natural products industries and is looking at jobs in finance and in sustainability/CSR departments in Colorado. 


Alison Schlichting

Alison SchlichtingAlison’s degree is in Entrepreneurship & Strategy Management and Accounting. In addition, Alison earned the SRE Certificate. This combination was perfect for her. Alison chose to be a business major because it offered the flexibility to work in many different industries. And while she hasn’t chosen a specific field she knows exactly the kind of company she wants to work in: a smaller organization where she can make a big contribution, and an environment where she can nurture her passion for the work. 

Alison signed up for the SRE Certificate after taking ethics. She liked hearing about the ways businesses work toward a triple bottom line, and not just maximizing profits. Alison also enjoyed learning about the creative approaches companies take to making a positive impact on the world. If the SRE Certificate had been an Area of Emphasis she would have taken even more classes.

For her practicum Alison researched the best hospitality companies in Denver and landed an internship with Inspirato, a luxury agency. When she interviewed and mentioned her interest in sustainability Inspirato immediately selected her to work on ways they could become more environmentally responsible. Inspirato manages multiple properties so Alison decided to focus on the cosmetics they use. She researched more sustainable shampoo and conditioner options, and met with CEOs of the companies making these natural products. Alison also recommended that, if Inspirato was serious about promoting a sustainable mission, they should create a position dedicated to that work. Since then, Inspirato has hired someone to be their sustainability coordinator. 

Alison’s favorite SRE class was Sustainable Operations, taught by Joe Dobrow. In this class she learned about innovative companies, such as those trying to make artificial plants that will sequester carbon, and how operations fit into sustainability efforts. Another of her classes, taught by Birdie Reznicek, matched students with nonprofits on project based work. Alison helped her nonprofit partner raise funds and was deeply impressed by the passion of the team she was working with, and how much difference a dedicated staffer can have on a small, lean operation. 

For Alision the SRE Certificate added enormous value to her CU Boulder experience. She says she met a lot of incredible faculty and staff that she wouldn’t have connected with otherwise, and she gave 110% in her SRE classes because she loved them so much and admired the professors so deeply. For Alison, while entrepreneurship, strategy and accounting are all important skills, it was the SRE Certificate that spoke to her need for purpose.

Want to Learn More About the SRE Certificate?

If the SRE Certificate interests you, visit our website to learn more and apply for the program. Requirements for the certificate can be found here.

Please reach out to with any questions.