Alumna’s career attains new heights.

Heather Freeland (IMBA ’03, BBA ’00) has moved up in the world: to 8,000-plus feet. In her new position as special events and sales manager for The Club at Cordillera ( in Vail, Colorado, she has a different perspective on the value of her experiences in the college—experiences that helped her win the job and ease her transition away from South Florida.

Heather Freeland (IMBA ’03, BBA ’00)

“During the second round of phone interviews, the interviewer was Joseph Petrash (BS ’83), executive vice president,” said Freeland, who marveled that another graduate would be working at the very place she was seeking employment, considering its remote location. “He knew I had a good education, and we had a lot in common.”

It got even better. On her first day of work, her female co-workers took her to lunch.

“I mentioned that I had gone to ‘FIU.’ One of the women at the table was Gayle Emigh (MA ’97), who was then vice president of membership sales and marketing,” Freeland said. “It was amazing that in such a small spot, so far from South Florida, I would find myself working with two other alumni.”

A combined family and university connection started the process.

“My sister, Summer Freeland (BA ’02), was working as a server at the Timber Hearth Grille, The Club at Cordillera’s main clubhouse,” Freeland said. “I was visiting her in January, 2006, and met the Timber Hearth Grille Clubhouse manager. When my current position opened, The Club at Cordillera requested that I apply.”

Freeland’s career success builds on her successes as student.

Since July, 2006, Freeland has handled event planning for members, corporate groups, and weddings; done marketing, business development, and budgeting; and created promotional materials.

“I may organize a twelve-person business lunch or a 350-person wedding or corporate event,” she said. “I was a pre-med physical therapy major, and as a junior, sat in on a marketing class. I immediately applied to the college and got a BBA in marketing, a second BBA in international business, and the International MBA (IMBA).”

Recipient of both a Florida Academic Scholars Award and a scholarship from the university, Freeland maintained her place on the Dean’s List every semester, completed the three degrees, and traveled extensively.

“Beginning in 2000, I traveled throughout Europe annually for between one and four-and-a-half months, having gotten my first taste when we spent a day in Paris on a study-abroad program to Croatia,” she said. “The next year, I went on a one-month global entrepreneurship program with the college, then stayed in Europe an additional fourteen weeks.”

She also traveled to Mexico; Costa Rica; throughout east, west, and central Europe; the United Kingdom; and Canada.

Previously the development and special events coordinator and liaison with the board of Informed Families (, a non-profit drug and drinking prevention program, Freeland continues to apply her business degree to great effect.

“I have really begun to appreciate my finance courses because, when discussing budget issues, I actually know what I am talking about,” she said. “I’ve applied what I learned about teamwork as I engage with the clubhouse managers, servers, and chef; and I draw on my marketing background as I promote our offerings to members and to the surrounding population.”

Though she had visited the area before, there have been surprises, including her first exposure to fall, which she found “remarkable,” and to snowfall in mid-September. She enjoys her new environment but notes that it contrasts in many ways to the one she left behind, characterized by sunshine, warmth, a variety of ethnic food, diversity, ease of travel from the Miami hub, and proximity to friends, and family, including her mother, Connie Freeland, program assistant, external relations and resource development, in the college.

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