Student Success: Turning a Passion Into a Business
When David Strathman graduated from Poudre High School, he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do – and didn’t want to waste money at an expensive college while he figured it out. After a positive orientation meeting at Front Range – where he won a three-credit scholarship – he figured he’d give FRCC a try.
“Front Range was a great place to get started, because it enabled me to explore things I liked and focus on being a good student,” says David. “It’s a low-key, supportive environment, and if you live locally, it’s a great way to transition into college without leaving everything that’s familiar.”
Staying Close to a Support System.
For David, there was an important reason he wanted to stay close to home. At the age of 11, David was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of cancer. He went through an eight-month treatment, went into remission, then relapsed nine months later. Finally, David had a bone marrow transplant at 13.
“Being near family was important to me,” David admits. “I’ve gotten very sick a few times due to a weaker immune system, and it gave me comfort knowing that FRCC wasn’t far away.”
FRCC Felt Like Home.
So David started at Front Range, and it immediately felt like home. “I liked the small classes,” says David, who got involved in student government and met his wife in the Longs Peak Student Center. “The instructors were very easy to talk to and accessible. And I felt like students were there to learn – I liked that environment.”
Transferring for a Four-Year Degree.
David considered a nursing degree, but after taking a computer science class, he knew he wanted to go into IT. Through the FRCC job board, he landed a position at Ice Energy just before graduating in December 2007. He started out as a network technician and was later promoted to IT systems administrator. Ice Energy was supportive of David’s educational pursuits, so he transferred to Colorado Christian University while continuing to work full time. “Small class sizes became really important to me as an FRCC student, so that’s something I also sought in a four-year school.” David graduated from CCU in 2010 with a B.S. in Management Information Systems.
An Entrepreneurial Venture.
David has helped friends and family with their computer problems for years, and finally decided to turn his passion into a business. He started his own company, IT Specialists of Northern Colorado, in 2012. “I might help a small accounting shop with four employees who can’t afford an IT person on staff, or a company that needs help getting all of their technology set up,” says David.
Making a Difference.
Long term, David wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Having turned to rock climbing after beating cancer, David hopes to one day start a climbing camp for young cancer patients. “Climbing brought back my strength and confidence. At some point, I’d like to pass that on to kids who have difficulties similar to those I had.”
For FRCC, David makes a difference by teaching a computer hardware class, mentoring a networking student as part of FRCC’s Pathways Leadership Program, and serving on the Business Advisory Board – a role he was asked to accept by his former instructor, Victoria Eisele. “I like getting involved, and I want to help students who are in the position I was not long ago. It’s my way of giving back to Front Range. ”