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Rick Pieper poses with his wife, two daughters and son-in-law.

Greeley Local and UNC Alumnus Pays It Forward Through Business Scholarship

UNC alum Rick Pieper, ’93, gives back to the next generation by creating a scholarship for local business students.

Growing up in Greeley, Rick Pieper, ’93, was no stranger to the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) when he applied to colleges.

Pieper was originally enticed by UNC’s affordable cost of tuition, especially since he would be paying for his education himself. Then, when he arrived on campus, he quickly connected with the friends, professors and student organizations he was involved with.

“UNC was a great experience for me as I met many friends through my five years there. We played intramural sports, and I was always around Kepner Hall when not working or hanging out with my friends,” said Pieper. “The professors were great [at UNC] and I learned a lot from all of them and the various disciplines.”

Originally enrolling as an Accounting student, the classes he took in marketing and management interested him so much he decided to pursue degrees in both of those disciplines instead. Having enjoyed his marketing class and previous involvement with Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), a high school program for students interested in business, it seemed to be a natural fit for Pieper.

While at UNC, Pieper used lessons learned from his parents, Larry and Jan Pieper, to get the most of his education. His father’s work ethic and approach to education and his mother’s empathetic nature left a lasting impression that helped Rick develop strong relationships on campus. Pieper's His parents provided a firm foundation for Rick to build on in his adult life.

He believed, both then and now, that by focusing on honing skills and work ethic, a person’s job satisfaction, promotions and raises will follow naturally.

Developing organization and prioritization skills, especially during his final year at UNC when he balanced 20 credit hours each semester while working two jobs, was crucial for Rick’s educational success. After graduation, he began a rewarding career in the energy sector, rising through the ranks to become vice president of marketing at several companies, including his current employer Tenaska Marketing Ventures.

Having funded his own education at UNC, Rick understands the challenges some students face when financing a college education. This understanding fuels his desire to help support students who are starting from a similar position. That is why he has decided to pay it forward to one student every year through a scholarship for Marketing and Management students who come from Greeley, a similar path to his own.

“I hope [this scholarship] provides a bit of a boost financially to the students that are awarded the scholarship,” said Rick. “I am really excited to see who will be selected next year for the first time.”

It means a lot to Rick to be able to help someone from his hometown have the chance to attend UNC and chase their dreams. He hopes that his story will inspire and motivate deserving students to pursue their education, and that his philanthropy might be able to support them on their journey. 

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