Economics, business alumna shares why ‘it’s good to be scared’ during keynote address

As a growth advisor for HealthPartners, Sarah Borgerding advises the organization on short- and long-term business decisions. The career perfectly balances the two degrees she earned from MSUM in 2003—business administration and economics.

This April, Sarah will once again engage with her alma mater, this time as a keynote speaker for the 23rd Annual Andrew B. Conteh Student Academic Conference (SAC), which will be held online.

As a student, Sarah worked as a resident assistant and in the health center on campus, held a position in the student senate, and was active in several student organizations.

“I loved my classes, but I also was really active on campus,” she said. “That social and academic combination was perfect for me.”

Like many dedicated alumni, Sarah and her husband, Duke Borgerding, stay connected to the university. The high school sweethearts award the annual Borgerding Family Scholarship to a student from Albany High School who plans to attend MSUM.

Sarah Borgerding: 2021 SAC Keynote

Current students in the MSUM economics program also benefit from Sarah’s involvement. A few years ago, the students visited Sarah to learn about her work and consider what post-college careers were available to them.

“My husband and I both went to MSUM and it holds a special place in our hearts, so any opportunity to be involved is exciting,” she said. “I also found a lot of joy and fun in [forming] a deeper connection with those students who are earlier in their journey.”

While Sarah enjoyed all aspects of the campus community during her time at MSUM, she grew especially close with professors in the economics department, including Oscar Flores-Ibarra, who invited her to speak at this year’s SAC. The informal mentorship was an influential part of Sarah’s experience.

“Econ is a small but mighty department, so it becomes like family,” she said.

Along with the robust mentorship and opportunities across campus, Sarah says the “diversity of opinions” she was introduced to was enlightening.

“Learning to talk, disagree and explore ideas was powerful,” she said.

Halfway through her time at MSUM, Sarah realized she desired to work in healthcare in some capacity. She started her on-campus job at the health center as a way to gain exposure to the field while continuing her business and economics courses.

Because of her positive experiences at the university, Sarah is eager to return and speak with students presenting at this year’s SAC. She says presenting at the conference helps students with job hunting and marketing themselves in their field, as well as instills confidence in professional skills.

Sarah presented in the conference’s early years, finding it to be a safe environment among peers to learn about the realities of graduate school and the professional world.

“It’s a strong opportunity to both polish presentation skills and force yourself to think about how to tell your story and show your work,” she explained.

During her keynote, Sarah will discuss why it’s good to be scared. She’ll focus on how students having the courage to push themselves is a valuable skill when looking for a job and growing in their careers.

“I’m excited to get re-involved in the campus community in a deeper way, and to have the dialogue with the students, faculty, and the community.”

Sarah’s keynote address will take place on Tuesday, April 20 at 11:30 a.m. via Zoom. The full schedule and list of presenters can be found on the Student Academic Conference website.

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