For Stanley Unruh, choosing the CU Denver Business School was a “no brainer.” In making his decision, he considered the value of the degree and CU Denver’s location in downtown Denver. He also knew he wanted to step away from what everyone else was doing in his small hometown. Stanley took advantage of WUE, the Western Exchange Program, and most of his credits from community college transferred here. “It was the best fit for my cost and time.”
Stanley’s journey with the CU Denver Business School
Stanley, who is very open about his diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has struggled since his move here to Denver. Change is a challenge for him and moving from Carson City, Nevada, he experienced a bit of a culture shock. Having lived with his parents all his life, surrounded by the same people in his social circle, he has struggled to make connections and adjust. He still faces the same trials after a year of living here, but he has made progress. The changes have been hard, but he’s facing them head-on.
When Stanley was in high school, he had an IEP, or an individual education program to help him succeed in school. This meant having more time for tests and other accommodations for his learning style. When he started college, Stanley made a rule for himself that he did not wish to transfer this aid over. This was nothing against others needing an IEP, but a personal choice to push himself. He wanted to attempt to succeed without any extra help. Within his first month here, he came to regret this decision when he failed the first exam he took in his algebra class because he ran out of time.
Instead of retreating on his goals and requesting an IEP, Stanley went to the professor. Through meeting with his professor, Stanley realized that he could be more efficient with his studying, learning, and test-taking strategies and he was able to adjust accordingly. He found that he didn’t need an IEP and that his professors are very approachable, understanding, and willing to help when he needs it.
“That’s one great thing this school has done for me,” said Stanley. “Because I’m a lot more open with my teachers here about my disability, they’re much more feedback-oriented and can help me position myself.” For example, Stanley’s career development instructor Maggie Graham gave Stanley tips and resources for networking and socializing, something he had struggled with immensely. Getting advice from his professors one-on-one has been life-altering for him.
Finding his passion for accounting
Stanley’s decision to major in accounting was a surprise to his family and friends. Originally, he was interested in music education, and thought his mother’s profession of accounting sounded “boring.” But, after taking a bookkeeping class in community college and finding the subject fascinating, he decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
Accounting reminds him of the video games he played as a child. He loved RollerCoaster Tycoon, a simulation game that includes financial considerations, like balancing books for a theme park. The more he has studied accounting, the more Stanley has realized the influence he can have with this degree and the diversity of the field. He’s considered earning a master’s degree after completing his BSBA, with an interest in forensic accounting or another niche area.
Outside the classroom
In addition to his studies, Stanley currently works part-time at MCA Denver, the Modern Contemporary Art Museum, a non-profit arts institution located in downtown Denver. He enjoys his position immensely and learning about the non-profit world and the arts. He’s been able to apply some of what he has learned at Business School to his work, including the financial position of non-profits and even wrote a paper this semester in his statistics class on it.
Stanley has been a musician his whole life and he would love to see this passion applied in his career path. During his free time, Stanley continues to explore his creative passions. He plays many instruments ranging from a trumpet to an autoharp to the guitar, and he tries to apply his creative energy as often as he can.
Reflection and growth
When Stanley thinks about his journey to Denver and CU, it has been rocky, especially in terms of his social life and personal hurdles. However, professionally and academically, he is doing the best he’s ever done and he’s maintained excellent grades. Despite this rough path, he’s undeterred by his disability. He has made friendships completely independent from his past in Nevada, participated in business events by his own choice, grown his social network, connected with his professors and faculty members, and pushed his comfort zone. He still finds himself challenged frequently, but he works every day to be more social and improve his networking skills. Moving to Colorado gave the push he needed to move forward and learn in ways he would have never expected.
If Stanley could give one bit of advice to his fellow students, he said “don’t be afraid to push yourself more. Denver is a city full of opportunities, there is so much to explore.” Stanley plans to graduate Spring 2021 and he can’t wait to see what his future holds.