Alumni Volunteer of the Year
The MSU Denver Alumni Association celebrates Mike Faulhaber’s efforts to give back to fellow Roadrunners.
September 30, 2021
When alumnus Mike Faulhaber mentors students at Metropolitan State University of Denver, he hammers home the importance of embracing a growth mindset – something he admittedly lacked when in their position.
“When I was in college, I had a fixed mindset,” says Faulhaber, a sales director at Mutual of Omaha. “I was just trying to earn my degree and check that box.”
Growth has been a consistent theme throughout his life, one Faulhaber takes to heart but that took time to appreciate.
After his plans to get married and join the Marines at age 17 fell through, Faulhaber headed to the University of Northern Colorado to attend college and followed his recruiter’s recommendation to join the Marine Reserves to help pay for school. However, attending boot camp in San Diego during the spring semester of his freshman year bled into the fall, leaving Faulhaber waiting until the following spring to pick up where he had left off with his education.
Unfortunately, getting back into the swing of things by joining a fraternity and the wrestling team – “I was a throwing dummy for the varsity guys” – had its drawbacks.
“I had horrible study habits and tons of opportunities to study all the wrong things,” says Faulhaber, who changed his major twice at UNC. “I wasn’t doing well.”
Needing a change, Faulhaber moved to Denver and registered for classes at MSU Denver. A self-professed “typical Roadrunner,” he worked and went to school full-time, in addition to serving as a reservist. He also changed his major for the third and final time.
“Being among the skyscrapers and businesses in the heart of downtown Denver was inspiring,” he says of his decision to major in Business Management.
On track to graduate in spring 2003, Faulhaber saw his senior year cut short when Operation Iraqi Freedom activated his reserve unit. “God had other plans,” he says. “I was supposed to graduate, but instead I spent seven months in the desert figuring stuff out.”
Faulhaber finally graduated in spring 2004 and over time grew into the growth-driven mindset he values, focusing on his mission to provide guidance and understanding to others and helping them align their actions with intentions. Achieving that goal included incorporating into his life lifelong learning and giving back to the community.
“Lifelong learning is one of the keys to success. Since graduating, I’ve done more studying and test-taking than I ever did while in school,” he says, noting that working in the highly regulated field of financial planning requires keeping up with frequent legal and tax changes.
In 2020, Faulhaber – who now has several professional designations, including Certified Financial Planner, certified business coach and certified life coach – started sharing his growth-driven mindset with his Roadrunner family. It began with hosting an Alumni Digital Conversation and has grown to include joining the College of Business mentor program, holding financial-health workshops for students and providing students and young alumni with career advice through the Alumni Advisor Network.
Faulhaber frequently chats with students enrolled in the Introduction to Business class, where one of their assignments requires them to speak to an alumnus working in a field of interest. He has conducted over 200 interviews to date, saying he loves those conversations and connecting with fellow Roadrunners.
“Whether it’s a short 30-minute conversation with one student or talking to a full classroom about financial services, in those different environments I feel like I’m in some small way impacting their lives for the better,” he says. “That’s important to me. It fills my cup.”
Faulhaber will be honored as the Alumni Volunteer of the Year during the 2021 Alumni Awards Luncheon on Saturday from noon-2 p.m. at the SpringHill Suites at MSU Denver.
Contact Brandi Rideout, director of Alumni Relations, for more information about alumni volunteer opportunities.
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