Each Friday this summer, the Daniels Newsroom is telling the stories of the behind-the-scenes staff who empower students, faculty and the College at large.
The time Kat Vick has spent at—and commuting to—Daniels has been well worth it
On Monday morning, at 5 a.m., Kat Vick’s alarm goes off. By 6, she’s in her Honda Civic.
A right turn onto U.S. 287 takes her from her home in Laramie, Wyoming, over the border to Colorado.
A left on County Road 72. A right onto southbound I-25.
Two-and-a-half hours later, she’s inside her “fishbowl” office on the sixth floor of the Daniels College of Business. By day, she serves as the executive assistant to the dean, managing his calendar, equipping him for meetings and directing traffic. But after she clocks out, Vick devotes her evenings to a lifelong goal: earning an MBA.
“I really like learning,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed taking classes and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of developing those skills.”
Upon her graduation in 2025, the part-time Professional MBA will be the latest line on Vick’s lengthy, eclectic resume—one that includes welding and painting for NASCAR and owning an Italian restaurant.
“My whole life, I’ve never been one to just sit on my hands and do the minimum of what’s expected,” Vick said, referencing a quote from Henry David Thoreau about success finding those who keep themselves occupied. “A lot of the opportunities that I’ve had are because I was motivated and looking for something else to do—trying to learn things, trying to keep myself busy and trying to develop skillsets that I thought might be a little weak. And it’s opened opportunities that I wouldn’t have even thought about.”
Vick grew up in New Jersey but moved with her family to Fort Collins for high school. She soon fell in love with Laramie, where her sister attended college and her parents owned some land. Vick made her way to The Equality State where, at Wyoming Technical Institute, she learned to weld, fix dents on cars and work on vehicle refrigeration units after accidents.
With an associate’s degree in collision refinishing and management in hand, Vick worked in a body shop—an experience that gave her the opportunity to do some side work for pro racing’s Busch East Series.
But before long, Vick recognized the limitations of her trade career. The work was labor-intensive and had a low ceiling. She took an administrative job at a tech company and, eventually, slid into a role at the University of Wyoming. She utilized the school’s tuition waiver to complete a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a second degree in accounting.
The University of Denver’s “phenomenal” MBA program lured her away, even if it meant renting a nearby apartment to ease her commute. Vick stays in Denver with her dog, Blaze, during the workweek and usually drives back to Laramie on Friday evenings.
“It actually works really nicely,” she said. “I’m here and I’m by myself, so I go to class in the evenings. That Tuesday and Thursday I have time to do homework. And by the time I hit Friday I can focus on my family. My homework is done, my work is done. It’s much easier to compartmentalize the school piece of me, the work piece of me, the family piece of me by having that separation.”
On campus, Vick focuses on bringing people together. She leads the Daniels FUN Committee, organizing social and volunteer activities—whether it’s recognizing National Banana Split Day, coordinating the biannual Daniels Day of Service or organizing the College’s second annual staff cornhole tournament.
“There are a lot of things we have absolutely no control over [at work],” Vick said. “We have control over our culture. The purpose and the goal and the thing that I love about [the FUN Committee] is creating that community piece of what it means to work at Daniels. Those connections make it so you don’t dread coming to work. You have friends here.”
Vick has found friends in her MBA cohort too, a valuable aspect of the program that has brought her closer with people from a variety of backgrounds. Plus, the things she learns in class are relevant—to where she is now and where she wants to go next. The time she’s spent away from Laramie—and on the road between residences—has been well worth it, she said.
“I’m really motivated with things that are not unattainable but a little bit of a challenge,” she said, “something that makes me think, makes me use my brain, makes me reach into past experiences or things that I’ve learned or, in a lot of cases, things I’ve been taught by professors who spend their whole lives researching this.
“And the drive really isn’t that bad.”