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Is It Possible to Have It All?

Monday, August 27, 2018

There is something beautiful about knowing what you want your life to be like, knowing where you belong, and building a life with that level of confidence. That is something that Keri Uzpen had years ago, when she left Polk County to go to college at the University of Minnesota. While in college, she knew that she loved living and playing outdoors in this beautiful corner of Wisconsin. She knew that she wanted to raise a family in this community and that she would move home after graduating. This knowledge allowed her to tailor her degree for the local job market. Graduating the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, with a degree in finance and accounting, she was able to secure a position with MidWestOne Bank and now, years later, she is the Market President and Commercial Lender of the Saint Croix Falls branch, proving that just maybe… you can have it all.

What do you envision life to be like?

This is a question that college students need to ask themselves. Earning a degree is just the start of the journey. What happens next is where it gets interesting and where students have the opportunity to really craft a life around what makes them happy.

For Keri, she knew that she wanted to have a family and that raising kids in a rural community would be an important part of that. She commented, “In college, my husband and I knew we wanted land and that we weren’t interested in the city or living in a subdivision. We chose to live where we play and didn’t want to have to drive to go have fun. I also knew I didn’t want to take a half day off work to take kids to the dentist or go to school open houses, teacher conferences, sporting events, etc. Being close by makes a big difference in raising kids. That was a big piece for us - we didn’t want to raise a family in the Cities and working here allows me to be close to the kids.”

Keri and her husband also knew that they enjoyed spending as much time as possible outdoors. Their home is a virtual oasis with its own little lake. Without ever leaving their property, they can fish, kayak, canoe, go hunting, take a walk, or ride around on ATVs. If they don’t feel like venturing outside, they can enjoy the view of eagles flying and deer walking right outside their window. For a family of four who likes to fish, hunt, and play with their yellow lab – it’s a little slice of heaven. They have built a life and a sense of place that is both spectacular and truly unique to Polk County. After all, where else can you decide to eat fish for dinner, walk into the backyard, stick a pole in the water and get a sunfish?

Students going into college have time to think about these things and if they desire, to plan for a rural lifestyle like the Uzpens did.


It’s never too late to create a new life for your family.

Some parents may be reading this article after already starting a career and settling down in the Cities. Just know that it’s not too late to make the change. There are abundant career opportunities in Polk County. In fact, working in a rural setting often makes it easier to grow a career and move up, because there is less competition for top management jobs.

Those who do make the switch can benefit from a few things that Keri says makes her life easier –

“I don’t have to take time off for my kids doctor’s appointments. I do them on my lunch break.”

“It’s easy to make every practice and game. Even though I have a busy career, my kids’ activities are only minutes away.”

“I never have to worry about getting stuck in a storm or traffic jam and not making it home in time.”

“I have more time to do the things I enjoy because I don’t spend that time driving two hours back and forth to the office.”

Ultimately, Keri encourages students and older professionals to try life elsewhere but if they realize that they are missing out on too much, stressed by the daily commute and juggling work and family, to consider moving to Polk County. They may just find that, like here, they can have it all.

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