Friday, February 3, 2023

UM-DeSoto Graduate's Career Soars

Heather Gatzke

After earning her degree in finance from the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven, Heather Gatzke’s career has reached great heights.

The 2011 graduate works for Endeavor Air as a manager of inventory accounting. Her journey with the airline began while she was still in school at UM-DeSoto.
“While I attended UM-DeSoto, I worked for Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines as an aircraft parts buyer,” Gatzke said. “About six weeks before I graduated, a financial analyst position opened and I applied. I was offered the position and started in early September of 2011.”
From there, Gatzke began to climb the corporate ladder at Pinnacle, which became Endeavor Air after being purchased by Delta Air Lines.
“In May 2013, Delta relocated our corporate offices to Minneapolis,” she said. “Prior to the relocation, I was offered the position of manager of revenue, which I held until January of 2016, when I transitioned to the manager of inventory accounting.”
With initial plans to attend pharmacy school, Gatzke hadn’t always considered a degree in finance. After receiving her associate degree in business from Northwest Mississippi Community College, she experienced the deaths of two grandparents and an uncle.
Gatzke made the difficult decision to take a break from school and reevaluate her goals.
By the time she was ready to go back to school, UM-DeSoto officially offered the finance program. She was able to take advantage of the 2+2 partnership with NWCC.
“Through research and lengthy discussions with friends, I decided that the degree in finance from Ole Miss was the best fit for me,” Gatzke said.
Gatzke thrived in the finance program. She said the material she learned was excellent in terms of its application to the real world. She became close to faculty mentors, one of which was clinical assistant professor of finance Lynn Kugele.
Her professors had “very high expectations” and were “eager to share their knowledge,” she said.
Gatzke said she was honored to earn the Outstanding Graduate in Finance designation that year.
“My entire academic career was as a nontraditional student, attending classes at night, on weekends and online,” she said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to obtain a certain GPA. All I did for three years was go to work during the day and go to class at night. If I wasn’t at class I was studying or doing homework.
“Graduating summa cum laude was already enough of an honor. It just proves how hard work and dedication can pay off.”
Kugele applauds both Gatzke’s academic and career successes.
“Heather is easily one of the most outstanding finance students we have had at Ole Miss-DeSoto,” she said. “Her career path upon graduating is exactly what we hope will happen for our graduates: a move into the field of their choice and continued opportunities to move up.
“The combination of Heather’s work ethic and an Ole Miss finance degree gave her the credentials she needed to start that move up the corporate ladder. Though Heather is in Minneapolis now, we have kept in touch and get to visit in person when she comes home to visit family.”
Gatzke encourages other students to consider pursuing a finance degree and a “quality education” at UM-DeSoto. She plans to further her education by pursuing an MBA in the future.
For more information about finance and the University of Mississippi’s regional campus in Southaven, visit https://www.olemiss.edu/desoto.


By Erin Garrett
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