It all adds up for recently named valedictorian

SUU 2017 valedictorian Katelyn Yoakum at work. Undated | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — For Las Vegas native Katelyn Yoakum, excellent study habits and ambition were part of her life well before enrolling at Southern Utah University. The newly named SUU valedictorian was an exceptional student before attending the university, so much so that she was also valedictorian of her high school.

Yoakum came to Southern Utah University after her mother recommended the college for its small, personalized classes and caring community. When selecting a major, Yoakum realized that a finance major was the best choice for her.

“I really love math, and my mom thought I would love business and finance,” Yoakum said. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but my mom always picks the best things for me.”

As a finance major, Yoakum received multiple awards, including SUU’s Outstanding Junior in Finance, Dean’s List Fall 2014 and 2015 and Dean’s List Spring 2015 and 2016. Outsides of classes and studying, she has worked at the university as a library circulation aide and honors statistics teacher’s aide. Currently, she works as a credit service intern with State Bank of Southern Utah.

Yoakum is graduating SUU after only three years, rather than the typical four. Her early graduation is a result of exceptional grades, well-disciplined time management and work ethic.

“I’ve always had a strong work ethic, but I came to college not expecting to get a 4.0 GPA or valedictorian,” Yoakum said. “I just wanted to do the best I could. I have a planner and constantly check things off each day. I’m also a big textbook reader. I will read a textbook two or three times before a test.”

When it comes to mentors, Yoakum said her biggest supports have been Bruce Haslem, associate professor of finance, and Stephen Evans, professor of finance. Yoakum said Evans always has encouraging words to build her up before major tests and assignments, and Haslem has been a great guidance for interviews and future endeavors.

As for her future, Yoakum obtained a job as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, an American multinational finance company. She interviewed the first week of spring semester and was notified immediately of her future position.

Yoakum’s advice for future and current students includes focusing on time management and the “three S’s”: study, sleep and socialize. She also said she would encourage future students to pick SUU for its amazing class sizes, mentorships and spirit of the community.

“Having SUU’s finance department accepting me for who I am has impacted me tremendously,” said Yoakum. “I feel that I am a part of the finance program, and I feel that I am a part of SUU. I’ve always felt included.”

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