Friday, October 16, 2015

Kristen Graves Made a Big Change

By Megan Willman

Kristen Graves faced a defining moment when running a 5K in 2011. Thirty feet from the finish, her Achilles tendon snapped, and she couldn’t take another step. When doctors informed Kristen she wouldn’t run again for nine months, she made a positive change out of the disappointing news.

Kristen had been enrolled in nursing school. Along the way, she realized health care wasn’t the right career path for her, but she questioned whether it was wise to walk away from the five-year investment. While in school, Kristen worked part-time in property management and found her niche helping people find homes. She left nursing behind and focused her attention on the work that had captured her heart. Using her injury recovery time productively, Kristen enrolled in an online program at Colorado Technical Institute. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in property management, she enrolled directly into a dual master’s program from which she’ll graduate summa cum laude in May.

Online school allowed Kristen to work full time and put into practice all she learned in class. Finding time to attend classes and complete assignments while responsible for 260 apartment properties required a balancing act. Kristen solved the problem by building specific study times into her daily schedule. Preparation, she says, is the key to success in every aspect of life. “Any big change can be scary at first, but I do my research and take things step-by-step,” she says.

Kristen’s systematic approach to managing change is complemented by her high energy level.

Recently promoted to supervisor at Research Properties, Inc., Kristen oversees nearly 1,400 properties in Louisville and Southern Indiana. She has also done her “homework” to get to know all about these residences. Her workday is varied and can include working in sales, finances, maintenance, or even as a chef. She enjoys people, describing the residents not as tenants but as community members. Kristen gets to know them and loves the diversity each day brings. “I’m not a counselor, but our residents come in to talk to me about a wide range of issues. I wear a lot of hats and no two days are the same. It’s a lot of fun!”

In addition to full-time work and school, Kristen remains a dedicated runner who is training for this year’s Derby mini-marathon. She began running in high school but stopped for quite a while. When she started again after several years, it wasn’t just a matter of lacing up her running shoes. “I wanted to be prepared: body, mind, and soul,” she says. “Running is never just about the physical.” Kristen reads all she can about long-distance training and has begun to write her own articles to help others begin a running regimen.

What gives Kristen confidence to try new things? She credits family and friends for constant support. “I tell everyone what I’m doing. Then they ask me about it, and it helps to keep me motivated.” Her mom is an educator who advises Kristen to “study and read ahead” so she is prepared.

Kristen believes her faithful practice of planning, scheduling, research, and preparation are what makes her goals attainable. She does not run from change but embraces it.

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