CTU Alumnus and Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace on the Pursuit of Dreams
Noelle Pikus-Pace is an American 2010 Olympic skeleton racer and 2014 hopeful. She is also a wife, a mother, a businesswoman and a CTU alumnus. Pikus-Pace took time out of her jam-packed schedule to speak with us about the importance of higher education and going for your dreams.
You manage a lot of priorities, from your role as a mother and wife to pursuits in your career, sports and school. How do you get it all done?
Juggling all those things doesn’t work without a strong support system in place. My husband, Janson, is the core of my support system. He knows my dreams and works alongside me to achieve them.
Of course, my parents are also integral components of my support system. Their influence started early in my life when they instilled in me the importance of higher education. Even though I excelled in sports, school always came first. From this, I learned how to set priorities, which included earning more than a bachelor’s degree.
I’ve pursued my dream of family, business, school and sports since childhood. In the process, I learned to make the most of my time whether that means spending it with my husband and children, or focusing on my career or sports training. When I added school to the mix, I always used any free time I had to work on assignments in advance of deadlines. Most of the time, I’m the first to turn in any assignment. Although it’s tempting to procrastinate, I know that staying on top of my priorities reduces my stress and focus my energy on achieving my goals.
You chose to pursue an MBA at CTU. What have you done with your degree?
My career in sports may not last forever. Getting my MBA was as much about earning an advanced degree as it was about safeguarding my future and achieving another dream. I chose to own a business because I wanted the freedoms of business ownership – especially the freedom of flexible time, which allows me to follow pursuits I love. But more importantly, I love the idea of taking a germ of an idea and creating something worthwhile from it.
The courses at CTU gave me a practical, well-rounded business foundation from which to grow, so I could take the next step in deciding what my business would be and how I could and did turn that dream into a reality.
How did CTU support your lifestyle when you decided to return to school?
Hands down, CTU provides a solid business education. But more important for me were the gifts of flexibility and time. It didn’t matter whether I was in a Colorado airport terminal or one halfway around the globe. I was able to access my classroom and work on discussion board posts and individual assignments from anywhere I could plug into an Internet connection. That kind of accessibility was essential.
You’ve faced obstacles and setbacks before. What advice would you give to those trying to overcome challenges?
Yes, of course, there are always setbacks in life. To overcome them, you must push forward. The way to do this is to give yourself a chance, keep a positive attitude and take things moment to moment.
What words of inspiration would you give to our students?
Know your why; always remember why you chose to pursue a higher education degree. Go back to the beginning and consider what motivated you to begin this journey. There was a compelling reason and that can help motivate you to continue to the finish line … graduation.
Noelle Pikus-Pace's strength and speed has led her to become one of the best skeleton sliders in the world since beginning the sport in 2001. She raced to fourth place at the 2010 Vancouver Games and announced her retirement after the final run. A year later, she decided to make a comeback and will compete in the 2014 games. She is a 2008 MBA graduate from CTU’s online program.
Image credit: NBC Olympics / USOC