Outstanding Grad: Hayley Berland
College of Liberal Arts

story by Haley Candelario
published Dec. 14, 2022

Hayley Berland always knew she wanted to be a CSU Ram.

Berland, a nontraditional, older student, decided to return to school at the age of 24 as a promise to her father, who passed away from pancreatic cancer. She earned her associate’s in anthropology and then transferred to CSU to complete her bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology.

However, during the Fall 2020 semester, Berland received some difficult news: She had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. Around the same time, her father-in-law was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Berland took a leave of absence from CSU to undergo treatment, but anthropology instructor Emily Wilson said Berland never lost her passion for her studies in the nine months she was away from school.

“For me, it was just another element of adulting, to be honest,” Berland said. “Life’s always going to throw you lemons, so you just have to try and figure out what type of lemonade you’re going to make.”

in their own words

Q. What led you to pursue a major in cultural anthropology?

I actually was going to school to be a journalist, and kind of what embarked me into higher education in the first place was I took a free class online to see if it was something I would be good at … and it was on Hadrian’s Wall. I’ve always loved history, and I’ve always loved people and how they operate and how they interact, but I love writing as well.

That’s why I thought I would be a journalist, but I ended up having to take a humanities class, as everybody does, and I just fell in love with it. After that semester ended, I decided that that was the path I wanted to take because it just felt more compelling to me.

Q. What was the most rewarding part of your CSU experience?

The most rewarding was the study abroad, Hadrian’s Wall class. I think as online students, we tend not to be able to have the capability to have those typical college experiences, and as an adult going back to college, you kind of walk into the educational realm knowing that you’re not going to have those experiences.

To be able to have a study abroad class as my last class, and the capability to have those kinds of college experiences where you get to meet new people and forge friendships and experience all these astronomical things that you wouldn’t have expected in normal life – that by far was my favorite and most impactful.

Q. What is your advice to incoming students at CSU?

Don’t be afraid to try something that you never thought you would want to try. … I think a lot of people come into college with the idea of what they’re going to do, but they don’t know the possibilities of stepping outside those boundaries.

Find comfort in the uncomfortable because there’s always gonna be somebody else there that is just as uncomfortable, and you never know if they’re gonna be your best friend for life, or if you’re gonna find an interest that just absolutely makes your heart beam with joy.

Q. What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m actually really looking forward to being able to apply what I’ve learned. I work for a company that has 200 employees that I work with on a fairly regular basis, and each year our company sends out a survey. … I’ve had conversations with people about these surveys, and it’s hard to get an idea of how your employees are feeling based off of predetermined questions with ABCD answers.

What I would like to do, and the proposal that I’ll be making to our leadership team, is that I will go in and do an ethnographic study of our 200 employees. I’m hoping to present those results to our leadership teams so they have a better idea of how to tailor their marketing programs to better benefit not only our customers but our sales reps who actually want to sell those types of products.

outstanding grads

The Class of 2022 represents the very best of Colorado State University, showing courage in the face of adversity in the pursuit of their degrees. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this fall. read more