Love of design and personal finance leads alumna to successful career journey

Carolyn's headshot standing in front of a family at the dinner table
Carolyn Anders

Can a Colorado State University degree in interior design lead to a successful career in interior architecture AND personal financial services? It can! Just ask Carolyn Anders, a 2002 interior design alumna.

Anders was born in Colorado Springs, where her father was an officer in the Army. Due to her father’s career, Anders and her family moved around often. Every time Anders moved to a new home, she would draw out the floor plan and dream up creative renovations and additions – often with an indoor pool and a trampoline room! With every re-imagined floor plan, Anders’ passion for designing inspired and comfortable environments grew. Because of her lifetime passion for design, Anders was drawn to a degree in interior design.

Choosing CSU

Carolyn at her senior year design show in 2002
Carolyn Anders at her senior year design show in 2002.

Anders college career began at a small art school in Texas. After one year, she realized she longed to be back in Colorado and she elected to transfer to CSU.

“I chose CSU because of its reputable Interior Design Program and the student access to cutting-edge technology and resources,” Anders explained.

While at CSU, Anders thrived. “CSU gave me the full college experience,” she said, “complete with a challenging Interior Design Program, Greek life (I was in the Delta Delta Delta sorority), a tier 1 athletics program, and fun school-rivalries.”

Anders was also able to take advantage of CSU’s study abroad program for interior design majors.  She studied in London and interned for a celebrity architect, David Collins. Collins is known in London as a preeminent designer for retail and restaurants, and some celebrity homes.

Commercial architecture and real estate

In 2002, Anders graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in interior design and moved to Denver. Her first job was with an office/flex real estate developer as an in-house tenant space planner. After holding this role for three years, Anders decided to pursue a dual master’s degree in real estate and business administration from the University of Denver.

In 2007, Anders completed her master’s programs and moved to Washington D.C. to take on the role of project manager for a commercial architecture and real estate business. In this role, Anders developed practical and personalized design solutions and built-out commercial office interiors. She and her team worked on projects ranging from Class A office spaces to highly technical secure facilities for the U.S. government.

Knack for personal finance

Carolyn talking to colleagues at the Jacksonville office.
Carolyn Anders at the New York Life office in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2010, Anders started to feel burned out on design and began to entertain a career change. She always had a knack for personal finance, so she took a leap of faith and set her sights on becoming an agent with New York Life. As an agent at New York Life, Anders helps solve important financial problems and improves the lives of her clients.

“It was a dramatic departure from working on square-footage issues and security design problems, but it was the right choice for me,” she explained.

Anders career switch has afforded her a more flexible schedule and thus more time to volunteer and give back. When it comes to giving back to CSU, Anders was a proud member of the CSU Alumni Chapter of Washington D.C. and served as the president of the D.C. Ram Network. In addition, Anders made the generous decision to designate CSU as a beneficiary of a portion of her life insurance portfolio. This decision is something Anders is particularly proud of and has given her access to CSU’s Frontier Legacy Society. Leaving a future estate gift to CSU through a life insurance policy or a retirement plan is a surprisingly easy process. To learn more,  see CSU’s gift planning website.

CSU inspiration

Carolyn and her fiance Mark posing and smiling on a bridge.
Carolyn Anders with her fiancé Mark.

When reflecting on her time at CSU and why she feels the need to give back, Anders said, “I loved so many things about CSU: the people, the culture, and of course, the knowledge and perspective I gained. There’s just something inspiring about CSU that is difficult to describe. My favorite thing is the awe-inspiring environment. It’s almost as if the foothills are saying, ‘There’s a great big world out there! Go see it!’ So my advice to current students is to take that CSU inspiration with you and apply it to whatever you do. And remember, no matter where life takes you, you should ALWAYS be Proud to be a CSU Ram!”

Today, Anders lives in Florida with her dog, Mickey, and her soon-to-be-husband Mark. She was promoted from agent to development manager, where she heads up the New York Life Jacksonville office. Anders design background came full circle in Florida because she was asked to design the 13,000+ SF New York Life Jacksonville office space. She developed and designed the entire plan along with detailed drawings. She also got to assist with the furniture selections, finishes, and equipment. Now, her colleagues love to tell clients that “one of their own” designed the space.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.