Cory Curtis Story

Cory Curtis gives to the Fund for UW-River Falls because of its flexibility—it gets money where it is needed most.

“I feel a real need to give back,” says Cory Curtis. “I didn’t pay enough. I have to give back now because I got so much for so little then.”

Value is a big motivation for Curtis’ giving. Graduating in 1990 with a major in chemistry, she sees today how little money she spent on tuition to receive such an “incredible education.”

“UWRF really set me up well with the basics,” says Curtis. “From skills in writing to my science fundamentals, I didn’t have to relearn anything in graduate school because I had it all down.”

UWRF appealed to her thrifty nature. It also appealed to her driven nature.

“I knew from the age of 14 that I was going to get a Ph.D. in chemistry. That was my goal and it never changed.” 

She credits her parents with encouraging that drive to excel. Working for 3M, they took her to Family Days at their company and to Girls in the Sciences programs elsewhere. When it came time to choose a university, Curtis had her pick of the prestigious private schools. She checked out UW System schools, too. That is when she learned about UWRF’s top-notch chemistry program. 

“I grew up in River Falls, went to junior high and high school here; UWRF’s chemistry department really drove me to the university. I realized that I didn’t have to spend three or four times more at private school to get what I wanted.”

From River Falls, Curtis went to UC-San Diego for a doctorate program in chemistry. The five-year program there led to a post-doc program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Finally done with her formal education, she took a job with Merck, the international pharmaceutical company. There for the last 10 years she’s learned about the prescription business, worked as a supervisor and team leader, and currently serves as a member of a central engineering group, combining both hard science and team relationship skills. She has spent considerable time on international travel, including a 4-1/2 month stint at Merck’s facility in Newcastle, England, this past year.

“It’s a great motivator to be an extra resource for international colleagues, to learn about their culture. And there’s real satisfaction in getting a good quality product out the door,” says Curtis.

Curtis gives to the Fund for UW-River Falls, the unrestricted fund, in part because “the general fund doesn’t get much attention.” But also because of its flexibility—it gets money where it is needed most.

“Everyone can use the help,” she says. “Maybe it’s a better idea.”

Cory Curtis 

Cory Curtis, '90

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