Alumni Feature – Laura Powers – Class of 1998
Laura Hailston Powers is a 1998 graduate of Little Falls High School and truly a pillar of this community. She outwardly and actively loves Little Falls, its people and unique lifestyle. Laura was recently named as the newest member of the Little Falls Hospital Board of Trustees. She is also a board member for the Urban Renewal Agency for the City of Little Falls, serves on the City’s Tourism Committee, and is a member of Think Local Little Falls which aims to bolster the local economy. And we are proud to announce that Laura also volunteers on the LFHS Alumni Network’s Yearbook Committee, Alumni Profiling Committee AND News and Events Committee! Laura has embraced this community whole-heartedly and this community is fortunate for her presence. We hope that you will enjoy her story…
“I feel that I grew up in Little Falls, however, my family relocated to Little Falls the summer before my 8th grade year when my father retired after 20 years’ service for the US Air Force. I lived in two different states (Altus, OK and Plattsburg, NY) before attending school at Torrejón AFB (Madrid, Spain) and at Offut AFB (Omaha, NE). Though there was one year in the middle when I was a proud 8-year-old Benton Hall Bulldog.
Two things struck me during that first day in the LF junior/senior high school. Students were very interested in the “new kid” at their school and there was very little diversity throughout the halls. Until then, I had attended large multicultural schools and lived in similarly diverse neighborhoods. New faces were expected and saying goodbye was inevitable as families were constantly being stationed to new bases. It amazed me that many classmates had known each other their entire life! And while I thought this would be a barrier for making friends, it proved quite the opposite. Students were welcoming and it did not take much time to develop meaningful ties with peers who I am still close with today. It is that closeness, warmth, and desire for community roots that made growing up in Little Falls so special.
I enjoyed so many of my teachers. Frank Wilcox stands out as having made a significant impact for me. First, his art classes were inarguably a blast. Second, he always encouraged his students’ individual creativity while giving them instruction on how to make real progress. I recall him telling me once, “Laura, your artwork always looks so… so pink.” He explained that my style is very ‘happy,’ and it comes through in all my work. Frank had pointed out something to me without being critical or negative, making it a more effective message. He helped me to understand that my style is just that – my style. Not good, not bad, just mine. That message still rings true to me today whether I am working on a client proposal or volunteer projects.
One of my favorite memories in the LFCSD would be participating in the drama program. It was such fun to create magical productions with some of my closest friends. Rehearsals were always a great time and the rush of being on stage was second to none. It was a wonderful experience working as a collective toward a challenging goal, and then see it come to fruition as something the entire community could enjoy.
Following graduation, I attended Herkimer County Community College and transferred to SUNYIT (now SUNY Poly) where I obtained my BA in Psychology. While I loved the study of psych, I did not know what direction to take in respect to graduate studies. I decided to look for employment while I did what so many young 20-somethings do and try to figure it out. During that process, I was hired as an Admin Assistant for Strategic Financial Services, a wealth management firm in Utica. It did not take too long to recognize that this was a special place, and I tapped into a skillset I had not realized was part of me. I returned to SUNYIT while working full time and achieved my MBA in 2008.
I am fortunate to say that current and past professional experiences are connected to Strategic, as I have been with them for more than 16 years. As I mentioned, I was hired to provide administrative assistance, however they supported my desire to learn more and take on more client related tasks. I transitioned to our Operations Department, and eventually partnered with our Retirement Plans Team to begin working directly with plan participants. I served as Director to oversee this piece of our business for several years.
When they presented me an opportunity to transition back to the Wealth Management Team and serve as an Advisor, I jumped at the chance to service individuals and their families. I get to help people identify and achieve their unique goals every day. It is an absolute privilege and incredibly rewarding.
Much of my profession is, of course, learned through formal education and ongoing training. However, an effective Financial Advisor is someone who truly knows their clients’ situations and understands what is important to each of them. Little Falls is a community where it seems that (mostly) everybody knows each other. Navigating this tight-knit community has helped me to develop these relationship management skills and put them to work in my professional life.
Little Falls also maintains strong community pride with a desire to move the city forward. This positive outlook eclipses any underlying apathy, and it is infectious. So many people in our community believe in this city and see its potential. This excitement and positive energy are that which I embody when working with my team and our clients. It is important to see the potential in others and help them to achieve that goal, whether working with individuals or your community.
While I cannot say that I was born in Little Falls, I can proudly declare that this is where I have made my home. My husband, Matt, and I settled here together just before we married, and I am delighted to raise our twin sons in a community that cares. Little Falls is comprised of good people and that is what makes our city so very special.
When I think about the impact LFCSD had on me, I think about the impact it may have on future generations. I recommend that every student consider, “What moves you? What calls you to action?” There are so many options available within the district and in the larger community to meet any interest. Finding your passion and getting involved while still young will set you up for greater success down the road. Do not let anyone tell you that your passions are silly or not worth the time. Listen to yourself and be true to who you are. You may be walking this Earth for a long time – enjoy your journey and make a positive impact!”
The Little Falls High School Alumni Network’s Where are They Now series was initiated in January of 2015. This feature highlights individuals who have enhanced their lives and/or the lives of others using the foundation of the education they received at LFHS or St. Mary’s and the family values they developed while growing up in Little Falls. Success isn’t always defined by financial achievements. Many people find personal satisfaction by giving back to their communities, organizations or to others in general. Those on the receiving end of these heartfelt contributions may consider this person in the highest regard as well. With this being said, we are looking for individual nominations of Little Falls alumni who have made a difference in the lives of others as well their own. Before submitting your nominations (to AlumniLFHS@gmail.com), please confirm your nominee is currently registered on the Little Falls Alumni Website as this is also a requirement.
Thank you, and we look forward to reacquainting with our fellow classmates.