Rande ‘04 and Heather ‘04 Colburn knew they wanted to live in Colorado after graduating. They didn’t realize the journey it would take to get there or what God had planned. As they reflect on the path their lives have followed for the last 15 years, they’ve come to the same conclusion: they’re where they’re supposed to be.
“We often discuss how a lot of who we are, where we are and how we raise our kids is due to Union,” said Heather.
They didn’t land in Colorado immediately out of Union. The couple lived in California and Washington before finding their way to the Centennial State.
Even having lived in three different states since graduating, Rande and his wife connected with friends and friends of family from Union wherever they’ve journeyed. “It was a launching pad whenever we started in a new area. Even if we didn’t know people very well, it was a great connector,” said Heather.
When Rande graduated, he knew he wanted to be in business but thought he’d focus on small business. After a while, he realized that while entrepreneurship was a passion, it wasn’t the path he was supposed to take. For the last eight years, he’s worked at Otterbox headquarters in Fort Collins, an accessory company known for their water, shock and drop-resistant phone cases.
Currently he directs the integrated marketing team. “Looking back over the time since I graduated, I feel I’m now in a place where I feel comfortable,” he said. “I love the servant mindset of the company and seeing my team develop.” Rande considers his time at Union integral to his attitude and daily success.
While at Union, he witnessed the servant mindset in his mentors like business professors Barry and Lisa Forbes, and he knew he wanted to model that character in his career.
“The real life experiences my professors shared with me, showing me that they actually care about me as an individual and where my future was going, impacted me greater than anything in a book could,” he said.
Connection is a big reason why Heather and Rande attended Union and what they’ve seen impact them the most since graduating. Heather, from Arizona, was connected to Union by her sister who loved the “Slinga de Ink” experience. Heather gave up a half-ride scholarship to another school to pursue Union’s teaching program for elementary education. Soon, dorm life, community and friendship became her reasons to stay.
“Even now I’m still close friends with my classmates,” she said.
After finishing a year at Newbold College in England, Rande decided he wanted to go to school with his younger brother. They made a list of all the Adventist colleges, prayed, researched each one and felt drawn to Union.
“It seemed like an adventure, being from West Virginia,” he said. “We figured if we didn’t like it after a semester we’d go elsewhere.” They both stayed and graduated. “Looking back, God definitely guided us. The three years I spent at Union are among the top years of my life,” he said.
Union values have also deeply impacted home life. Heather and Rande now have three kids—Drew and Carter, ages 11 and nine, and a five-year-old daughter, Ellie.
Each Sabbath they’re home, they light a Sabbath candle; a tradition they emulate from vesper’s at Union. “We wanted to model for our kids the spiritual experience we both had in college,” Heather said. “Even today, I value the connectedness I had at Union and want to keep that as a priority in my family.”
Heather recently finished a Master of Science in Teaching and Learning. In the fall, she’ll return to the classroom full-time after having stayed home while her kids were young. “I pursued a master’s to bring me more up-to-date and current. I think it’s helped me understand everything new in education. I feel a lot more prepared now,” she said. Heather plans to be a kindergarten teacher at a non-denominational Christian school where her children attend.
“It’s been a miracle to see we’re right where we’re supposed to be,” she said.
Emily Roque Cisneros is a Union graduate and freelance writer based in Cedaredge, Colorado.