UCAR Communications


staff notes monthly

September 2003

Random Profile: Michelle Travis

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Michelle Travis, a treasury analyst in Finance & Administration.

An unconventional commute: Most people probably don’t know that Michelle Travis, who handles financial matters for Finance & Administration, used to commute to junior high school on a unicycle. “It was only a mile,” she laughs, “but I thought I was cool and different.”

Michelle lived in Los Angeles then, but she moved to Boulder shortly after digging out from the earthquake of ’94. She completed a degree in international affairs at CU-Boulder and toyed with the idea of leaving town after graduation. “There aren’t a whole lot of international opportunities here, but I didn’t want to leave lovely landlocked Boulder,” she explains. And so she never left.

As a good Boulderite she gets plenty of physical activity, even if she doesn’t unicycle to her Center Green office. She telemark skis, plays ultimate Frisbee and soccer, and competes in the Denver Women’s Hockey League. She also hikes and backpacks and would like to try scuba diving or a flying sport like skydiving or paragliding in the future.

Michelle on her unicycle.

Balancing the books: Michelle came to UCAR as a temporary employee and then worked as an administrative assistant before moving into her current position. As treasury analyst, she works with Dan Wilson, the director of UCAR Treasury Operations. She prepares board financial reports, tracks UCAR’s investment activities, and helps monitor some of the organization’s funds, pre-and-overspending, and cash and debt obligations. UCAR’s acquisition of buildings and the related construction projects keep her busy tracking costs in enormous spreadsheets.

But spreadsheets aren’t the only thing she’s known for around the organization. Michelle was a judge in the Spring Fling lip sync contest last May. “That was me in the silly wizard hat,” she admits. She also got “talked into” carrying the cake on behalf of Finance & Administration for the first leg of this year’s Up-the-Hill relay race.

Love of kids: Michelle has always liked kids, from infants through teenagers. In the past she worked in daycare and as a teacher’s aide. She’s even given thought to a career in teaching. “I could see myself moving on,” she says. “You never know.”

Right now she participates in Boulder County Partners, an organization that pairs adult volunteers with at-risk youth for long-term friendships. She and her 15-year-old “junior partner” have gotten together at least once a week for the past two and a half years to play frisbee, go bowling, ride horses, raft the Colorado River, and enjoy other activities.

Travel and photography: One thing that Michelle plans to do more of is travel. She spent a year in Austria and Germany on a study abroad program in her early 20s. “Mostly I tried to learn German and skied a lot,” she recalls fondly. She recently went back for a visit. “It was great to practice my German. I got off the plane and couldn’t say anything at first,” she says.

She would like to go to Alaska, Peru, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia in the near future. “I enjoy the challenge of a different culture, new language, new friends,” she says. “I definitely want to travel more.”

When she does, she’ll probably take her camera. An amateur photographer and self-described “old-fashioned, heavy film camera person,” Michelle makes calendars and stationery out of photos from backpacking trips.

A band geek, but not a cheesehead: Michelle reveals that she was a “band geek” back in high school. In addition to woodwind instruments, she has dabbled in piano and guitar over the years. Apparently it runs in the family: her brother, who lives in Boulder, is the drummer for String Cheese Incident, a modern-day Grateful Dead–type band whose music blends folk, bluegrass, rock, and jazz.

“I go to one or two concerts a year, but I’m not a cheesehead in that sense,” Michelle says, referring to the core of diehard String Cheese Incident fans who follow the band on the road from concert to concert.

That’s not to say she can’t be a little crazy. At a Halloween party last year, she dressed as a clown and juggled with devil’s sticks on the streets during a snowstorm—while riding the same unicycle she had in junior high. •Nicole Gordon

Also in this issue...

In the thick of climate change

UCAR quilters stitch for babies

Up-the-Hill 2003

Time for a Realignment

Recollections from Steve Dickson

Delphi Question: Nap room

Will tomorrow's cities have clean air?


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