A career in marketing is reminding KT Peek of what she loved about the Coast Guard
It took several months for KT Peek to find her place in the MBA program at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, but once the former U.S. Coast Guard officer discovered DU’s Student Veteran Association (SVA), she felt like she had come home.
“I didn’t reach out to get any veteran support when I started, and I wish I had from the beginning,” said Peek, who is in her second year in the part-time Professional MBA program. “All the SVA members are exceptional people with amazing service stories. It’s a feeling of home when you’re among veterans. There’s a lot that doesn’t need to be said when it comes to projects and getting things done.”
Founded in 2013, the SVA is part of DU’s Office of Veterans Services, which assists student veterans from the moment they step on campus and through their life as a DU alum. Staffers explain the intricacies of the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program, a VA initiative that helps to fill the financial gap between public and private school tuition. (Daniels makes its programs more accessible for veterans by matching the GI Bill funding veterans receive.) And the office provides a place for student vets to gather, share stories and help each other through the transition from military to academic life.
“They want veterans to succeed,” Peek said of the SVA. “Military service is so high speed and demanding, and coming into academia is not a smooth transition for everybody. Veterans might be older than other students, they might already have families. We’ve already lived a lifetime, and a lot of people don’t understand that.”
Finding a new sense of purpose
After eight years in the Coast Guard, Peek came to Daniels in 2022, looking for new challenges and career advancement.
She started by pursuing a concentration in marketing, one of several paths Daniels offers to gain new skills and knowledge. Recently, she shifted into the MBA program so she could devote more time to her marketing job at ModivCare, a Denver-based company that connects underserved communities to health care through non-emergency medical transportation, remote patient monitoring, personal care services and more. (The company’s president is Heath Sampson [BBA 1996, MAcc 1996], a two-time Daniels alumnus and former DU hockey player.)
Peek says she was drawn to ModivCare because of its mission and sense of purpose—attributes that remind her of serving in the military.
“What I liked most about being in the Coast Guard was knowing I was making a difference,” she said. “I helped to keep millions of dollars of narcotics from making it to the streets; I protected endangered species and helped prevent overfishing; and I contributed to hundreds of search and rescue missions that saved thousands of lives. You knew you were making a difference just by showing up and giving it your all every day.”
Widespread tours of duty
The military came calling for Peek soon after she graduated from high school in Colorado Springs in 2008. She was considering taking a job in health care, or maybe going to art school, but a flyer from the Coast Guard found its way to her mailbox and changed her life completely. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine and environmental science from the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, then served three tours of duty: one in Florida, performing drug and law enforcement operations; one in Texas, doing environmentally focused incident management; and one at a search and rescue command center in Washington.
“We oversaw three sectors, everything immediately along the Washington and Oregon coast,” she said of the latter. “But we had the capability to get satellite alerts for things that were hundreds of thousands of miles offshore. And since we were a joint rescue coordination center, we worked a lot with our international partners, like Canada, on international search and rescue operations.”
The stakes may not be as high in the MBA program at Daniels, but Peek is enjoying herself nevertheless, taking all she can from her classwork and participating in events like the 2022 Race & Case, a signature Daniels event that combines a business ethics case competition with an alpine ski challenge. She was part of the team that took second place.
“We came up with some crazy, out-of-the-box ideas for our case solution,” she said. “That was really fun.”
Peek also enjoys staying connected to her military experience and veteran community through events like the Hero Games, an annual SVA-sponsored competition for the entire DU campus.
“It meant a lot to be able to connect our student community with our veteran community,” she said. “I’m also helping our SVA vice president, Julian Oliver, plan a military ball that’s unique to the traditions and ceremonies of the military. Unless you have a family member in the military or are invited, a lot of civilians don’t get that experience. We wanted to find a way to share some of our ceremonies and traditions with students at Daniels.”
Peek’s military experience will be on her mind even more than usual this week, with Veterans Day approaching on Nov. 11. It’s a somber day for her and her fellow SVA members.
“It’s a time to take a step back. For some people, it might be a tougher day than for others,” she said. “As veterans, we reflect on our own service, and for me, both my grandfathers served (one in the Marines and one in the Army), so it’s a time to reflect on their service as well. It’s a time to give thanks and be appreciative, and it’s a sobering reminder that life is really short. Don’t take a moment for granted.”