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Fatima Salazar


Courage and Community Mark Fatima Salazar’s Creighton Career

“I know when an opportunity should be taken” says the 2022 graduate. “And Creighton was an opportunity I was willing to take.”

For Fatima Salazar, BSBA’22, Creighton is synonymous with two things: community and opportunity.

The professors, the counselors at the career center, her classmates and fellow President Scholars – all left an indelible mark on her life, enhancing her Creighton years in ways for which she will always be grateful.

Fatima Salazar with fellow participants at Engage event.

Additionally, she considers her Creighton education “an opportunity of a lifetime” and the “best thing in the world” she has done for herself.

Salazar originally thought being a Bluejay was a long shot. Well-intentioned friends and family members encouraged her to consider the University of Nebraska-Lincoln or a community college as a more economical path to higher education. But Salazar was accustomed to private education. She attended the now-shuttered St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School in Lincoln, Nebraska, and graduated high school from Lincoln Pius X Catholic High School.

The day she received her acceptance letter to Creighton, she cried, thinking she did not have a chance of being admitted.

Her mother liked the idea of Salazar attending a Jesuit school, and the campus’s short distance from home was an added bonus. Though financial aid and grants helped defray the cost tremendously, it was a leap of faith still. But as Salazar says, she has no regrets, calling Creighton “the biggest blessing in all areas of my life.”

“The people at Creighton helped me grow. I would recommend Creighton 110% to anyone and everybody,” the finance and economics double major says. “My experience makes me an advocate of going to college, having a dorm experience, especially coming from a Hispanic family.”

That Salazar entered the Heider College of Business is no surprise. She is from a business background. Her grandfather, a native of Mexico, helped build the interstate system in the 1950s, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen. In 2004, he established what is now her family’s well-known regional restaurant business, D’Leon’s. But while her family encouraged her to pursue management, she had ideas of her own.

Salazar first considered a finance career after watching The Big Short, the 2015 film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book of the same name that chronicles the financial events leading up to the real estate market’s collapse in the 2008 financial crisis. She thought, “This is interesting stuff.”

Though the movie piqued her interest, it was her professors – in particular, John Wingender, PhD, professor of finance, and  Keith Olsen, DBA, CFA, assistant professor of finance – who drew her in. “I saw finance as a path for growth and stability,” Salazar says. And economics? With its real-world connections to finance, it was a natural second major.

I can’t say enough about the academic preparation at Creighton.
— Fatima Salazar, BSBA’22
Fatima Salazar holding daughter in front of Creighton Bluejay logo.

“I can’t say enough about the academic preparation at Creighton,” Salazar continues. She believes the critical thinking skills she learned have helped her excel in her job as a financial analyst with the State of Nebraska’s Department of Insurance. Still, she is humble, quick to point out that there is always room to learn more in her career and life.

“I am always open to new learning and continuing my education within my job,” says Salazar.

While the faculty and staff at the Heider College of Business prepared her to “stand out” in her job performance, she says, they also provided care outside the classroom when she needed it most. Salazar became pregnant as an undergraduate and experienced a profound personal loss – the death of her partner – before giving birth to their daughter, Jaylee Redding. Yet, the incredible support she received helped her to not only manage the struggles of new parenthood but to also graduate on time.

“At one point, Dr. Olsen could see that I was not doing well and offered me the resources I needed, including meeting whenever I needed. He told me I could do it and made me feel comfortable, seen. He is one of the most compassionate people I know,” Salazar says.

Knowing that Salazar would need the support of a mother as a new mother herself, Heather Doering, MA, associate director of business career programs at the John P. Fahey Career Center, helped Salazar find employment suited to her gifts and interests and near family. “Heather was patient and encouraging, but she wasn’t easy on me just because I was expecting,” she says.

“I think it is necessary to have the courage to be vulnerable with people,” Salazar adds, whether it’s with a friend or a professor. “Everyone goes through tough times. It’s okay. That courage will give you the strength to achieve your goals.”

And Salazar’s goals? Applying her finance and economics knowledge and critical thinking skills in a challenging position. She says that it’s “a kind of homecoming” – her office is located next to her old elementary school.

Another “homecoming” is in the works for Salazar as well. She has been discussing with Dr. O returning to Creighton to earn her MBA and to be closer to her late-partner’s family. In one sense, Salazar would once again be returning to her roots to raise her daughter and advance in her career.

Due to her time at Creighton, her roots run deeper and bear sweeter fruit.