Spring is a time of new growth, and Utah Valley University student Eili (pronounced EYE-lee) Erickson includes growth as one of her main goals as she has been involved with the Women’s Success Center and the Women of UVU Association.

“The students who are involved there, no matter what capacity they are in, have the opportunity to grow in whatever direction they want,” she said.

Erickson served as vice president of operations for the Women of UVU during the past year. She is a senior majoring in communication, and plans on graduating in December. The growth aspect has brought her from a student job for the Women’s Success Center, to another on-campus position, then to work for the university’s Wee Care Center, which offers child care for students to help them be able to attend classes.

“I manage a grant,” she said of her current position. That work has helped her grow into a love for nonprofit work, which she hopes to pursue after graduation.

The grant management includes writing the initial proposal for the center, which included its goals and objectives.

“The Wee Care Center is looking to enhance programming and parent involvement and have greater national accreditation,” she said. “That will mean updating materials, hiring new teachers, and allowing the center to do more with what they have. My supervisors wanted me to grow, and they offered me this opportunity.”

The grant she is managing is from the U.S. Department of Education through its program CCAMPIS, Child Care Access Means Parents in School.

“We are looking to enhance the program, take on more children, and for longer hours,” Erickson said, noting the service would also be growing.

She is a first-generation student, without ancestors who have earned a college degree. She is looking forward to using her degree, no matter where she ends up working.

“The background and flexibility of focusing on nonprofits can apply anywhere,” she said. “If I ever change my mind, it would be helpful wherever I need it.”

Erickson served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Peru, returning in 2017. She attended UVU and worked with the Women’s Success Center and with the orientation office. Later that year, she married Nathan Erickson. He recently earned a degree in political science and is planning on attending law school, the location yet to be determined. When that is resolved, it will provide another opportunity for the two to grow, she said.

Her minors in Spanish and sign language may lend themselves to additional growth in those fields that are still uncertain. In the meantime she is working for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, on its development team.

“I like the idea of improving the quality of life for other people,” she said. “There are other ways to help people, not just by being a doctor or a teacher. It is about finding my passion. There are ways to save the world, other than what you learned as a kid. There are different ways to contribute to the greater good.”

She offered advice to anyone, particularly women, looking at pursuing their educational goals.

“Find a passion that allows you to get involved,” she said. “Find mentors, support, and opportunities for growth. If I hadn’t gone out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. You are far more than just a job. College is a great time to find mentors, people who will push you and cheer for you as you run to the finish line with them by your side.”

Women like Erickson are encouraged to take advantage of the Women’s Success Center. The center offers women the support and resources they need to complete their degree and gain the confidence, opportunity, and knowledge that come with a diploma. UVU is dedicated to providing higher education opportunities to all who seek them, especially to women. Further information is available at uvu.edu/wsc.