Fermentation student trumps adversity through work-life balance with help from CSU faculty

By Melissa Leavenworth

Like many students, Justin Alexander entered his first year of college unsure of his end goals and desired career path. His lack of intention toward a specific career served as a catalyst to failing out of Colorado State University – Pueblo.

After dropping out, Alexander spent the next four years earning an Associate’s Degree in Business and working a variety of jobs. At one of these positions, he found himself at a pivotal moment when denied a promotion. The denial gave Alexander the opportunity to ask himself what he wanted out of his work life and how he planned to achieve it.

Justin Alexander campingPursuing Fermentation

Alexander decided to pursue fermentation, something he had practiced on his own for a few years through home-brewing. He was ready to move to Oregon State University to attend their Food Science and Technology program when he heard that CSU planned to launch a Fermentation Science and Technology program. This news prompted Alexander to stay in Colorado to pursue his bachelor’s degree.

During his first year at CSU, Alexander found himself juggling academics, two jobs, and the task of planning a wedding. While maintaining these aspects of life, Alexander’s vehicle was totaled in an accident leaving him with only a bike to get around Fort Collins and tend to responsibilities. This experience strengthened Alexander’s time management skills. “Since then I’ve consistently held two or three different jobs on top of being a full-time student and husband,” Alexander said. “If I’ve learned anything, it’s that time is precious.”

‘Healthy Work-Life Balance’

Alexander explained that the Fermentation Science and Technology program has taught him and fellow classmates how to perform at optimal efficiency through time and resource management. His professors have emphasized the importance of performing at one’s best and balancing work, school, and family. Alexander said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of their advice,” and he attributes much of his personal development to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The challenge of managing time led Alexander to realize some of the more valuable things in life. He said, “Balancing all of those events really teaches you to value any spare time and helps you see what is most significant to you.” Alexander explained that it’s crucial to him to spend his precious free time on what he finds to be important.

Alexander currently works as an intern for New Belgium Brewing Co. in the Chemistry Analytics Lab and hopes to be offered a full-time position in the brewing industry upon graduation.