Dominique Braun-Lasnier says her college career has been a decade-long journey.
When she graduated from Smoky Hill High School in 2011, Braun-Lasnier was offered a half-scholarship to Regis University, but she gave it up after a year and a half.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and even with the scholarship, I didn’t want to pay that much to find out,” the first-generation college student says. Instead, she decided to spend time on her uncle’s sheep farm in southern Iowa.
“That’s where I fell in love with the rural life,” she says. “I grew up in the big city of Aurora, but I really liked working with animals.”
When she returned to Colorado, she became a nationally certified emergency medical technician and worked at Denver Health Medical Center while attending the University of Colorado Denver, with the goal of going to medical school. She soon discovered that she didn’t like being cooped up in a hospital, and decided that was not the career for her.
A friend who worked for the North American Limousin Foundation, a cattle breed association, asked Braun-Lasnier to help out with the National Western Stock Show, and she was hooked.
“I saw the value of the cattle industry to society, and I want to bring awareness of that to people and find ways to make it better,” Braun-Lasnier says.
That’s why she transferred to CSU in 2018 and is graduating with a bachelor’s in animal science with a minor in agricultural business. Braun-Lasnier has continued to work part-time for the foundation and for the USDA at the National Lab for Genetic Resource Preservation on campus.
“It’s a neat thing to see all the tanks of seeds and animal semen from years ago that have been frozen that we can still learn from today,” she says. “There’s so much work being done on genetics today, and I want to help that research along.”
Braun-Lasnier has also been involved in the Collegiate Livestock Association and Ag Adventure, helping educate people about agriculture and how it provides affordable and sustainable products beyond meat and clothing. Eventually she would like to own a ranch where the public and schools could participate in agriculture workshops and classes.
Steph Lebsock, Braun-Lasnier’s academic success coordinator, says she is the perfect type of student the College of Agricultural Sciences wants in its programs, not just because of her 4.0 GPA.
“Dominique has excelled in her classes, but it’s never been about the grade for her, it’s about what she’s learned and how she can apply that to what she wants to do,” Lebsock says. “She always has such a calm, positive attitude, and she’s so kind-hearted and willing to help. No matter what her career path, I know she will make an incredible difference in people’s lives.”
Braun-Lasnier would like to attend graduate school and continue working on livestock genetics, but here at the end of 2020, she says she’s “trying to make plans but not make too many plans.”
Through it all, Braun-Lasnier says she has had the support of her parents. “It’s been a rollercoaster for them, but they’ve supported me all the way here.”
Her advice for new college students?
“Work hard during the semester and finals won’t be so stressful. I’ve never stressed about finals, because I stayed on top of it the entire semester.”