Outstanding Grad: Sara Godfrey

Sara Godfrey
Sara Godfrey, BS Business Administration. Graduate of Berthoud High School, Berthoud, CO.

Helping people prepare for the future

Sara Godfrey, BSBA
Financial Planning

It was her senior year, she had no plans set up for after graduation, and Sara Godfrey was going through a “little bit of a life freak-out.”

“I had a friend tell me to go see Bill Shuster,” said Godfrey, who had internship experience under her belt, but still felt unsure of what direction she wanted to go in after leaving CSU.

She stopped by the management professor’s office and said candidly, “I have no idea why I’m here. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. But somebody told me to come.”

Shuster sat with Sara for over two hours sharing pointers, resources, and perhaps most importantly, listening.

“It gave me a starting point, which is what I needed,” said Godfrey, who ended up taking his consulting practicum in the spring, a course that led to her being offered a job after graduation.

Bill Shuster with students
Professor Bill Shuster talks with students and alumni during a management department networking event in February.

Finding her path forward

Godfrey entered the College of Business without a clear picture of where her academic journey would take her. But, when she took intro to financial planning at the end of her sophomore year, something about it clicked in a way she hadn’t expected.

“I really liked how [financial planning] mixed the analytics from finance and more of a personal side,” said Godfrey. “I’m super analytically minded, but I love the social aspect. So, it was the perfect combo.”

She soon began digging deeper into the world of financial planning, studying with Chris Stein, a senior lecturer in finance in the College of Business and the Director of the Financial Planning Program.

“He’s not only in financial planning currently and can bring that experience in, but he’s coached a million kids through school,” Godfrey said.

“He was a great resource when I was stuck, like, ‘Do I take this internship? What do you think of this job?’ I was constantly getting his advice,” Godfrey said.

Connecting with faculty

She quickly learned that, like Stein, many of College’s faculty members went above and beyond, opening their doors to students in times of crisis and sharing their insights outside of the classroom, from passing along life advice to talking through career options.

Throughout her time at CSU she made a point to connect with as many of her teachers as she could, like John Macdonald, an associate professor in the department of management who “knows everyone’s name in his 90-plus class by the end of week two” and Lisa Kutcher, who Godfrey bonded with over their shared first-gen status.

At the end of one semester, Stein approached Godfrey with an offer to intern at the retirement planning firm where he works as a certified financial planner.

She accepted and started at Jim Saulnier and Associates in August 2019, continuing the position through graduation.

“Retirement is such an important thing,” said Godfrey. “It’s cool to be part of that step in people’s lives.”

The internship was also informative for her to figure out the path she wanted to pursue after graduation.

“It showed me that I liked certain aspects of the job, but then other aspects it was like, ‘Okay, I need something a little bit more fast-paced,’” she said.

“I’m actually switching directions a little bit,” said Godfrey, a decision made easier by the hands-on experience she gained. “I’m going into technology consulting for an accounting firm in Denver.”

Even though it’s in a different area than financial planning, Sara sees the job stemming directly from the range of experiences she’s had during her time in the College of Business.

“I really think that the way CSU’s College of Business is set up you can study anything you’re interested in and take a career in a very different subject,” Godfrey said.

She’s also excited to be able to apply the skills she’s been building through her coursework and internships in a new way.

“The reason I got my job is because I had experience in long-term goals for people and they wanted to transform that into long-term goals for companies,” Godfrey said.

“I think CSU does a really good job of connecting students with that hands-on, real-life experience, whether it’s through classes or internships,” said Godfrey. “When you get hands-on it’s unlike anything you’ve been taught. It was way different than I thought it was going to be.”

Learning what it means to be a Biz Ram

Lisa Kutcher and students
Accounting professor Lisa Kutcher, who Godfrey connected with over their shared first-gen status, talks with students in the College of Business.

Although she didn’t realize it when she first stepped into Rockwell Hall, Godfrey found out that being a Biz Ram means sharing deep ties with peers, faculty members, and the staff in the College.

As she prepares to leave CSU, one of the most valuable things that Godfrey will be taking with her is the connection to that community.

“I think what it means to be a Biz Ram has grown in meaning over my four years,” said Sara. “I was involved in clubs, I talked to my professors outside of class, I had great friends in the College of Business, but I don’t think I knew what a community I was in until my junior or senior year.”

A moment that solidified that sense of community for her was when she was studying abroad in Europe and one of the College’s undergraduate advisors who helps coordinate the program was travelling nearby.

“She calls all of us CSU Rams and she’s like, ‘Hey, I’m in town, do you all want to go to dinner?’” said Godfrey. “Not everyone would reach out or take time out of their trip to spend it with a bunch of students, and I just think it’s such a cool connection.”

The group spent the entire night talking about travelling and sharing stories.

“We’re all Rams, we all love the College of Business, we all love Rockwell and it’s a connection that you can reach out to anybody for,” Godfrey said.

“I’ve reached out to people on LinkedIn and said, ‘Hey, you’re an alum. I’m not sure what to do with my life, can I pick your brain on this?’ and they’re like, ‘Yes, of course!’ and you get to talking about their days here … it’s stories they want to talk about.”

And the best parts of Godfrey’s story are yet to be written.

Spring 2020 Outstandin Graduates

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