Colan '03 and Courtney Blum Potemra '06 of Raleigh both just graduated from Catawba College within the past six years, however, they have already begun to give back to their alma mater in earnest. The couple recently made a gift to create a new endowed scholarship fund at the college and is encouraging their fellow alumni to consider doing the same.
"At the end of the day, you've got to pick something that you believe in," Colan explained. "We both got out in four years and people at Catawba believed in Courtney and me. It's hard to turn your back on someone who takes care of you. In today's economic climate, you need to stick with relationships and help make it work."
"In today's financial situation, I probably wouldn't have had a chance to go to Catawba without loans and having to work every day to pay them back," Courtney added.
Colan of Poolesville, Md., was recruited by assistant lacrosse coach Mike Murphy to play at Catawba. He majored in business administration. Courtney, who grew up in New Jersey, but who was living in Winston-Salem while in high school, said the beautiful Catawba campus sold her on attending college there and majoring in communication arts.
The two knew each other "very, very vaguely in college," Colan noted, but actually met during homecoming activities one year after Colan had graduated and they began dating. The two were married March 8, 2008. Colan is employed as a sales manager for Covidien, a health care/medical sales company, based in Mansfield, Mass. Courtney works at Channeladvisor in Morrisville, NC as a sales executive.
"Both of us received financial aid from Catawba when we were students," Colan remembered, noting how helpful Tracy Hummel in Catawba's Financial Aid Office was to them both. "Someone gave money to make Catawba affordable to students like us. We feel that we've been successful so far in our careers thanks to that and thought that we could give back to Catawba. I feel like what we were given in financial aid as students was a loan that we have to give back."
Courtney, who as a student worked the Phoneathon (making fund-raising phone calls to alumni), said she knew then "how important it was to give back. I was on the other end of the phone back then and everyone I called was so open and friendly and wanted to talk my ear off about Catawba. It all comes back to alumni willing to help and that's something I want to see get stronger with more people willing to help Colan remembers with fondness Lacrosse Coach Peter Bourque and Business Professors Bill Trenchard and Dr. Jack Green, while Courtney recalls the professionalism and kindness of Communications Arts Professor Dr. Karl Hales. Both recall the numerous friends they made at Catawba and the relationships with these friends that they still maintain.
"Colan and Courtney are a special young couple to our institution," Catawba Senior Vice President Tom Childress said. "They are a wonderful example of two individuals who realize that you have to give back so others like you can enjoy the same benefits you had."
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