Where are they now?
A chat with three past Colony Brands Scholarship Recipients.
By: Kim Markham, Community Relations Manager
Each year since 2008, Colony Brands has offered a competitive scholarship program for children of our employees. An astounding $250,000 plus in scholarships have been awarded through this program alone, to high school graduates pursuing a 1, 2 or 4-year postsecondary education at a college, university, or technical school.
As we look forward to celebrating the Class of 2021, we decided to check in on some past Colony Brands scholarship recipients. We are honored to share the inspiring stories that Jaiden Goodman, Joe Crubaugh, and Miranda Henke shared with us from “where they are now” – the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and New York City. Jaiden is the daughter of Cheri Planthaber, Shared Services, Clinton, Joe Crubaugh is the son of Cathy Crubaugh, Director of Catalog Project Management – Creative Marketing Services, and Miranda Henke is the daughter of Becky Henke, Vice-President of Food and Apparel Brands.
A common theme throughout the responses from Jaiden, Joe and Miranda was that there is valuable experience to be found many places – if you look, take a leap, and explore. All three of these past recipients have broadened their horizons (or plan to!) by making the most of their college experience through internships, study abroad, real-world competitions and more.
Joe, currently a junior double-majoring in Construction Management and Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, already has a great start to his career in the construction industry after being selected to represent UW-P in the Associated Builders and Contractors Construction Management competition. Joe was encouraged to apply to be on the UW-P team by one of his professors during his sophomore year in 2020. Teams from colleges and universities across the country compete as a fictional general contracting company to win the bid for a “real-life” multi-million-dollar construction project. The teams develop estimates, schedules, and safety, quality-control, and project management plans with hopes of advancing to the final round where they present their proposal to competition judges who are actual project managers, engineers, and safety managers. Typically, the advancing teams travel to actual sites, but this was cancelled due to the pandemic. The UW-P team would have travelled to Nashville and Dallas. The logistical changes didn’t stop them from giving it their all, however. Joe helped lead the UW-P team to success not only last year, but again this year, placing 2nd overall out of 26 teams last year, and 3rdoverall this year, including placing in 2nd in Safety and 3rd in Estimating – the most categories a team from UW-P has ever placed in.
Although the pandemic caused Jaiden, a junior at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, to change course with some of her educational plans, she was still able to gain some valuable experience recently as part of the first team from her college to make it to the final round of the National Diversity Case Competition (NDCC). Jaiden had planned to study Spanish in Madrid during the summer of 2020 and then go on to an internship abroad. Instead, she has participated in the University of Iowa’s virtual study abroad program and is completing her classes online this year, in addition to gaining valuable experience through the NDCC, a competition that brings college business students together to focus on social issues that affect underrepresented minority groups. Jaiden and her teammates marketed a three-step solution to 3M, detailing ways the company could use their outreach to combat the effects of housing inequality. Their efforts earned them third place overall and inspired Jaiden and her teammates to participate in the 2021 international competition. She shared with us that the biggest takeaway she has from both experiences is “how incredibly rewarding it is to watch a simple idea transform to a viable solution that has the potential to make a difference.” Jaiden is a double-major in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management with a minor in Spanish.
Miranda put her Colony Brands scholarship to work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a marketing degree in 2016. Always on the go, Miranda’s study abroad and internship experiences took her from Madison to Greece to Philadelphia and even to the internship program at Colony Brands!
After graduating from the UW, Miranda headed to NYC for a training program with a national clothing retailer. Quickly realizing that being a buyer was not where her passion is, Miranda went back to Anthropologie, the brand she interned for in Philadelphia, and spent three years managing their stores in NYC, a time that she “loved…(being) able to cultivate teams, recruit, train and thoughtfully grow the businesses and processes within.” Fast forward to today, Miranda is following in her mom’s footsteps at a family owned business. Loeffler Randall, a women’s apparel and accessory brand, started in 2004 in a “garden apartment in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.” She credits her time at Colony Brands, and certainly growing up in a family of Colony Brands employees, with teaching her creativity, collaboration, and the importance of working for a company that cares about its people.
Miranda has taken advantage of the pandemic and used the isolation time to dig deep and develop her skills in areas that she previously avoided, as well as to explore new things in her personal life. Although she has been working from home, daily conversations with Loeffler Randall’s CEO and CCO (who are married) have positively impacted their company dynamic and reinforced the value of family. Earlier this year, Miranda was promoted to Retail and Office Manager with a broader scope of responsibilities, including overseeing the company’s first brick and mortar retail space in SoHo.
Miranda’s advice to college students or recent college graduates is to avoid categorizing yourself into one mold. She encourages everyone to keep an open mind and focus on the things you are good at and passionate about in both your career and your personal life, versus only what you think will set you up for success. Say “yes” to new opportunities, travel to learn about new cultures, and listen to the stories of everyone you meet. Don’t give up if you fail, in fact, she says, “fail a lot”!
Jaiden had similar advice, suggesting that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others because everyone’s path is different… “no matter what path you choose moving forward, make sure that you are passionate about it and inspired by your choice every day!” She says that receiving the Colony Brands scholarship gave her the confidence to pursue her education because she knew there were people out there that believed in her enough to give her such a generous opportunity. Jaiden’s plans include graduating in May of 2022 and pursuing her MBA, while doing most of her coursework and internships abroad. Eventually, she would love to start a business or work for a business that shares her “passion for sparking creativity and positivity in others.”
Joe shared that he is appreciative of Colony Brands investment in him and others in our communities and that his scholarship helped him to stayed focused in college. He has some very forward-thinking advice for the Class of 2021, including to get as much experience as you can in a variety of careers to really find your home. Once you’re in college or the workforce, get to know your professors or leaders. They can be very helpful in navigating college, internships, and career opportunities.
The stories that Jaiden, Joe and Miranda shared with us are inspiring, and certainly show the value of our investment in the children of our employees through the Colony Brands Scholarship Program. They are all inspirational examples that your future is what YOU make it.