Vanessa Hayward, a coordinator for the College Opportunity Fund in Student Financial Services, moved to Fort Collins in 2005 with her mind set on getting a job at Colorado State University. And since that time, she has found that Fort Collins is an idyllic balance between what she experienced living on the West Coast and what she grew up with on the East Coast.
Hayward graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Political Science and French and a passion for higher education — an inspiration that she found while serving an internship in the study abroad office. Before moving to Fort Collins, she and her husband lived in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she worked in student financial services at a small graduate school and a few years in the dot-com industry. All along, the couple’s goal was to buy a home and have kids in a more permanent location.
They decided that Fort Collins would be their future home.
“Within a week of moving here, I got out my suit and resume and I came to CSU,” Hayward recalled. “I visited the offices on campus where I had experience. I stopped by the study abroad office; and since I had worked in the College of Engineering at University of Pittsburgh, I visited the college here; and I also stopped by Student Financial Services and met the front desk coordinator. She told me that there were going to be two job openings, and that it was going to take a while, but that I should apply for the position.”
Fast forward to adult life
Hayward was determined; she went through the extensive hiring process and got the job. During her first year and a half with Student Financial Services, she worked in client services as a counselor, answering phone inquiries, emails and drop-in appointments. She and her husband also bought a house and had their first child.
“Fast forward to adult life,” she said with a laugh.
In the fall of 2012, she started as the coordinator for the College Opportunity Fund, a program that provides tuition assistance for in-state students. In this role, she has enjoyed taking on greater responsibility and has been inspired by the opportunities this program provides for students.
During her 10 years at Colorado State University, Hayward has had many opportunities that have further connected her with the University. Last semester, she participated in a workshop through the Office of the Vice President for Diversity focusing on Creating Inclusive Excellence. A few years ago, she went on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Atlanta, where they worked with the International Rescue Mission. She has also taken graduate courses in Public Health.
Inspired and rejuvenated
Hayward is continuously inspired and rejuvenated by her work. Working in an integral division like Student Financial Services, she is constantly reminded that her work is making a difference.
“I think CSU is a really inspirational place for students to be,” she said. “When you are 18-25 years old, the world is your oyster. And during that time, you should be at a place where you are encouraged to do those things that you think are possible. And I think CSU is that place.”
Hayward enjoys spending time with her two children and husband, experimenting with new recipes and traveling. She rides her bike to work every day, barring inches of snow and single-digit temperatures. Her husband, Jesse, also works at CSU at the Health Network.