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Alumni Spotlight: Far From Home, UW Grad Never Meets a Stranger

April 19, 2018
head portait of a man
Jake Eitzen. (Photo by KC Creative Design Photography, Kenya Kaetz-Glenn)

Jake Eitzen didn’t need anyone to tell him he should start a University of Wyoming alumni networking group when he moved to Tucson, Ariz. Now that he has done it, he has brought together a whole community of people who might not otherwise have met.

When Eitzen moved to Tucson a few years ago, he knew almost nobody. The exceptions were his wife, his brother and his parents. The three Eitzen men were in business together as financial advisers with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

Eitzen was trying to find a way to meet people in this city with approximately the same population as all of Wyoming. He decided connecting with UW alumni was the way to go and got his hands on an alumni directory. “I basically cold called and emailed people to ask if they wanted to be on an alumni network mailing list and started building the list out from there,” Eitzen says. Now the group gets together as close to quarterly as it can for sports watch parties and happy hour mixers at area watering holes.

At a recent get-together, nearly 50 alumni turned out. Eitzen knows there are hundreds of alumni in the area, a retirement destination for people in the West. “The wind has blown lots of people from Laramie down here,” he says.

Eitzen himself started out life in Colorado. He grew up in Estes Park but chose UW in part because that’s where his parents went to college. He attended UW on a four-year wrestling scholarship. He spent his fifth and final year of college “just being a student.” He’d started as a kinesiology major but after one semester decided to study marketing, and he earned his degree in 2014. Marketing was a good fit, as he joined his father in the financial advising profession, in a way that helps him communicate with clients and grow the business.

Now when he travels around town and sees a car with a Wyoming license plate, he’ll sometimes stop and tuck his business card under the windshield wiper. First, he’ll add a little note based on the county number, like, “How are things in Gillette?”

“People who’ve come from Wyoming have a special bond, a sense of camaraderie, a real sense of pride,” Eitzen says. And, just maybe, he can get them to join his networking mailing list and find a way to celebrate Wyoming together.

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