Outstanding Grad: Mikaela Oles

Mikaela Oles with duck
Mikaela Oles

Being outdoors is something Mikaela Oles has enjoyed since she was little, and growing up in Pueblo, her parents often took her and her siblings camping, fishing and hiking. So, it makes sense that Oles is graduating with a degree in Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism from the Warner College of Natural Resources  in May.

Oles isn’t having a light semester, either: taking 19 credits, working as a lab assistant in the Warner College of Natural Resources computer lab, acting as the college’s student lead in the Career Center and serving as the CSU chapter president for the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANNRS) organization. She has a lot on her plate, but she’s juggling it with a smile on her face.

“My time at CSU has been so crazy,” Oles said. “I’ve been given opportunities that I wasn’t expecting to receive other than an education, and it’s been really great.”

Her journey to CSU was an obvious choice — her sister and brother both graduated from the university and her parents attended CSU-Pueblo. While Oles didn’t quite know what she wanted to study when she arrived as a freshman, she considered both the natural resources program and the College of Business college, because in high school she was involved in DECA, an association dedicated to preparing students for careers in marketing.

Double minor

Based on advice from her mentors, she declared a Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism major with a double minor in Business Administration and Global Environmental Sustainability. From there she got involved in MANNRS, and quickly moved from secretary to vice president to president. Many of the members have become some of her closest friends on campus.

“The number of students that have come up to me and thanked us for creating a community for those who might not have had one within their college — just knowing that we’ve created a space for them and their friends, is so fulfilling,” Oles said.

During spring break this year, she traveled to Iceland to study marketing in a unique environment. There she got the opportunity to explore natural areas and geothermal sites, and talk with tour guides about their method for marketing natural resources and sustainability efforts.

Oles’ dream job would be working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After connecting with that agency through MANNRS, she worked with them to do environmental education at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan and the Region 6 Regional Office in Denver, creating a regional outreach and education strategy program. Oles hopes to score a job with them in about a year, and she has a good chance.