Baertsch next to lion

Jenny (Folgers ’05) Baertsch has found a way to help give back to the Saint Mary’s University community through her current position at Winona National Bank.

Baertsch participated in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field all four years at SMU. Among her honors: NCAA provisional qualifier and participant in the 100 hurdles, two-time MIAC Champion (100 hurdles, 1,600 relay), seven-time All-MIAC performer, two-time MIAC Athlete of the Week and NCAA All-Academic.

The Johnsburg, Ill., native met her husband, Jim Baertsch ’04, while at SMU. The couple now lives in Winona and has two children: Tessa (2) and Chase (6 months). The couple enjoys running and participating in road races. This year Jenny plans to do eight 5K races to complete Live Well Winona’s “Mississippi Medley” series.

Tell me about your current position at Winona National Bank.
I’ve been the marketing coordinator at Winona National Bank for about 4½ years, since October 2008. My main responsibilities include designing the bank’s advertising and communication pieces as well as coordinating bank events.

Winona National Bank is a corporate sponsor of Cardinal Athletics. Can you tell me more about this?
One of my favorite parts of my job is Winona National Bank’s commitment to the community. The bank is proud to sponsor local events and organizations that bring life to our community. As a former student-athlete, I’m thrilled that this support includes intercollegiate athletics — especially at my alma mater!

What is your favorite part about your job?
It sounds cliché, but I love coming to work every day and really love what I do. No two days are the same. Two of my biggest strengths are creativity and organization, and I’m able to utilize both skills in my professional career.  I’m also very appreciative of all the opportunities my job has given me to be involved in the Winona community. I’m currently involved with the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, Women in Business, Junior Achievement, and Ready Set School.

How did your experience at SMU help prepare you for this position?
I never, ever pictured myself working at a bank, but look at me now! I entered college focused on one path – I wanted to be a sports reporter. I loved writing for my high school newspaper and participating in athletics, so it only made sense.

On one of my first days as a freshman, SMU had a sort of “meet and greet” event where we could meet our professors. That’s where I met Dean Beckman. That day, I told Dean my career ambition was to be a sports reporter. Dean was my academic advisor and eventually helped me earn a part-time position as a sports reporter for the Winona Daily News. I also interned for Donny Nadeau in the SMU Sports Information Office. Both were amazing experiences and prepared me for my next endeavor: graduate school.

In 2005, Jim and I moved to Mankato so I could attend graduate school at Minnesota State University, Mankato. There I was a graduate assistant in the Athletic Communications Office, so I worked and went to school at the same time. It was an awesome but eye-opening experience for me! I had a lot of fun working in athletics and was even given the opportunity to intern with the Minnesota Vikings. I was a public relations intern for two training camps and one season in the press box at the Metrodome. But while working in athletics was super fun, it required work on nights and weekends. I basically burnt myself out by the time I was 24 years old! So as I approached graduation with a master’s degree in Sports Management in 2007, I realized I had my fill of the sports world and started applying for communications and public relations jobs in other fields.

I panicked a bit because I felt I only had experience in sports. But I soon realized that there was a whole world of opportunities out there, and people like Dean and Donny were right there to support me with recommendations. I decided to go outside my comfort zone and give the world of banking a try. I am glad I did! I now have an excellent work-life balance and can enjoy my nights and weekends with my family.

Any advice to current SMU student athletes? 

My story proves that over time, people and interests change. For most people, their first job out of college isn’t necessarily what they’ll do for the rest of their life. Learn from each opportunity because it will make you a more well-rounded worker.

Baertsch standing in front of vault

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