Jenie Connors had never considered a career in financial planning before she attended Utah Valley University. She just wanted to take some business classes. But at UVU she found her niche. A private scholarship helped her earn degrees in personal financial planning and economics. Today she loves her job as a financial advisor at Diversify Inc., an award-winning financial planning firm in Sandy, Utah. She hopes to give back soon, in return for the help she received, by donating to scholarships.
After marrying young and starting a family, Connors went to beauty school and worked in a salon. The job gave her the flexibility to raise a family. But she planned to one day get a college degree and become a nurse.
While she was working on prerequisites for nursing, a personal tragedy changed the course of Connors’s life. One of her daughters was killed in an auto-pedestrian accident. Her family needed her leadership to work through the grief, so she dropped out of school.
A few years later, Connors was managing a high-end salon. It was a good career, and she was working toward purchasing the salon. But when doing some forensic accounting, she realized that the numbers just didn’t add up. That was when she decided to give school another try.
Between running the salon and helping her husband run his sculpting studio, Connors had learned the importance of understanding business. She also knew what kind of person she wanted to become. “Seeing other people who could really give back in powerful and profound ways, I noticed two things,” she says. “One was that they knew business, and the other was that they knew how to make money work for them. I realized I needed to develop those skills.”
Not knowing which major to pursue, Connors enrolled at UVU and began taking classes in the Woodbury School of Business. In an economics class one day, she experienced a profound thrill. “It was kind of like a lightning bolt deep inside me,” says Connors, who knew in that moment that she wanted to major in economics. “I enjoy math, and I find it absolutely fascinating that through math and models you can look at human behavior.”
Although Connors was settled on economics, her advisor had other ideas. He eventually talked her into taking an introductory personal financial planning class as an elective. After about three weeks in the class, Connors experienced the same kind of lightning-bolt feeling she had felt for economics. That led to her double-majoring in economics and personal financial planning. “I loved the idea of being able to help others and give them the tools to succeed and accomplish their goals,” she says.
Connors was part of a student team that took second place at a financial advisor student technology quiz bowl in Dallas. “The excursions to financial planning events were incredibly valuable, because they helped me see beyond the schoolwork. I could see how the profession really worked, how it could serve, and the difference I could make,” says Connors. She also had the opportunity to do an internship with Diversify, which led to a job offer when she graduated in 2015.
Connors completed her education with the help of the Woodbury Leadership Scholarship and the Jon & Karen Huntsman Scholarship. The scholarships made it possible for her to reduce the number of hours she worked and focus more on school. She was able to take 18 to 20 credits each semester and graduate sooner than she had planned. “I have been so blessed not only by being a part of the Personal Financial Planning program but also by being the benefactor of wonderful donors. I’m hoping within the next couple of years I’ll be able to turn around and donate. I’m looking forward to it,” she says.
In the meantime, she’s contributing to her profession by serving on the board of directors for the Financial Planning Association of Utah. She also has been a guest host on Diversify Radio.