The Grass is Greener

Bailey Nowak standing on lawn mowerTo say this business-minded student is a go-getter is an understatement.

Bailey Nowak not only graduated from Laramie County Community College with her associate degree in business and finance this spring, but she's also a thriving business owner.

Bailey runs her own lawn-care company, something she's been doing since she was 12. What began as a way to earn money using the family lawn mower, Bailey has grown into a full-fledged business serving numerous customers with her own equipment. The process has been a valuable learning experience: a few years ago, her customer base was not as large as she wanted. Bailey explored different ways of marketing her business and now operates at almost full capacity. The weekly process of maintaining numerous lawns involved building a sustainable schedule and mapping the locations to minimize driving. She worked with clients to develop payment schedules and invoices, and she knows that the work is a direct reflection on her.

"I hope I'm doing the best I can," she said.

LCCC accounting instructor Carla Ostic says, "Bailey thrives on being in charge of her own earning potential, setting her own schedule and being her own boss. She understands that the more she puts into the business, the more she gets out."

What does Bailey do in her spare time? Why, serve the community while developing her leadership skills as the president of the LCCC Rotaract Club. As a freshman, she participated in Rotaract, but this year, she and some friends wanted to take a larger role and ran for officer positions. Bailey thought her organizational skills would help her lead the club, and she was elected president.

According to Bailey, it's been an amazing opportunity. The club has done projects with the local foster grandparent program, led team building for other groups, and helped with the campus "giving tree" program. She is making connections locally with individuals and businesses, as well as nationally and internationally. Last summer, Bailey traveled to a conference in Atlanta, where she met Rotaract students from around the world to discuss ideas for making a bigger global impact. She's also learning about motivating people and even took psychology to help her better understand how to manage people.

"People are the business," she says.

Bailey believes that if you really want something bad enough, you'll make the time. Not only does that apply to the Rotaract Club, but also to her life. She is a first-generation college student and was always told growing up that paying for the "extras" was her responsibility. College was one of those extras. "I either had to work to pay for it or get scholarships," she said.

So she applied for three or four scholarships a week her senior year of high school, and it paid off. She had enough scholarships to cover the costs of her education.

Another aspect that helped her feel comfortable at LCCC was being part of a business cohort, a group of students in the same degree program who take the same classes. Bailey felt this helped her get to know others and to have peers to study with and ask questions.

Now that she's graduated, Bailey is considering continuing via the outreach program or the transfer agreement with the University of Wyoming. Upon completion of a bachelor's degree in business with a minor in marketing (and a master's degree), she plans to work in the business field, perhaps as a stockbroker.

"The path wasn't perfectly paved for Bailey," Ostic said. "She has persevered in business ownership and in continuing her education. Bailey's future is bright. And one thing is for sure, she isn't going to let any grass grow under her feet."