This nursing alumna didn't know how far her MSU Denver experience would take her.

Cheryl HaggstromCheryl Haggstrom chose Metropolitan State University of Denver in part because of its location. As a young woman from Kansas, who’d often come to Colorado for ski trips, she loved the idea of having easy access to the mountains while being in the heart of the city.

MSU Denver’s accredited and reputable Nursing Program was another big draw. She already had an associate degree and knew she needed a bachelor’s to advance in the field.

But when she started at the University, Haggstrom confesses, she had no idea what a deep and lasting impact the experience would have on her.

“I established my roots in Colorado at MSU Denver,” she said.

“Through the nursing pathway, I bonded with people, learned a lot and developed a deepening passion for my career. What I didn’t expect was how many career opportunities would open up to me and expand exponentially as a result of my preparation here.”

Haggstrom has made the most of those opportunities. She graduated from MSU Denver in 1982 with a BSN and a minor in business, a combination that would prove useful in her career. After a short time in direct patient care, she felt pulled toward other areas of health care. She wound up spending 15 years with Lutheran Medical Center working in the areas of quality improvement and risk management.

In 1997, Haggstrom joined the Community First Foundation, an organization that brings together generous donors and innovative nonprofits to create positive change in the Denver metro area. She served as vice president and COO before moving into her current role as executive vice president in 2008. She leads the foundation’s fundraising and grantmaking programs.

Over the years, Haggstrom has followed the growth of her alma mater, and has been impressed with how deeply it remains committed to its mission.

“The time, consideration and effort that has been made to build the University’s academic programs and change the way the state and nation look at MSU Denver has been phenomenal,” she said. “The leadership, staff and faculty continue to believe in what the University stands for and helps to shape it as it grows. It has not lost its charm, tight-knit campus and the genuine belief that every student should have a chance at a good education.”

Haggstrom should know. She was one of those students. And she has some advice for those following in her footsteps.

“Invest in learning about all of what the University has to offer. Get involved, dedicate yourself to the campus experience and develop new skills. Ask questions! Learn to love the library! Most importantly, find a mentor or someone who embodies or defines how you’d like your career to grow. Learn from their experience and then forge your own path.”