By Kira Cordova
Jessica Laramie, director of the Energy Management (EM) program at Western, as well as a graduate faculty member for the Outdoor Industry MBA program, was recognized on Dec. 14 for her outstanding work as a Colorado educator in the energy industry when she received the 2022 Denver Association of Professional Landmen (DAPL) Education Award.
The recognition for impact in energy education is awarded to one educator annually by DAPL. Laramie was formally nominated for the award by Antero Resources, a Denver-based oil and gas company and one of the EM program’s industry partners.
Laramie attended Illinois State University in her undergrad, where she studied politics, government, and history. After finishing her degree, she moved to Denver to complete a master’s program at the University of Denver (DU) in natural resources and environmental law.
After receiving her graduate degree, she began working in the oil and gas field in downtown Denver as a land analyst. But after two years in the field, she decided to return to school once more, earning a law degree from DU’s Sturm College of Law while working full-time and attending night courses.
“I had a job that I really liked and enjoyed. It was fun to be able to apply school to my job…and to have that interchange of professional activity and exercises to take what I was learning in the classroom and [really] apply it,” Laramie says.
After completing law school, she worked for three different oil and gas companies in Denver, focusing on leasing, contracts, and land administration while teaching night courses at DU in contract law and oil and gas life cycles.
It was during this time that Laramie realized she needed to choose between working for an oil and gas startup and furthering her career in education.
“I hit a point where I needed to go one way or another,” she explained.
During that time, the assistant director position in Western’s Energy Management program (then known as the Professional Land and Resource Management degree) opened up. Laramie quickly fell in love with the Gunnison Valley and accepted the position, which she began in the fall of 2015.
Fast forward five years, and Laramie was elevated to the role of program director in 2020.
“Jessica accepted the role as director [of the EM program] with only nine students in the program. Since then, she has done an astounding job breathing life into the program structure and the implementation of processes that have allowed the program to expand while maintaining a 100 percent placement rate [for internships and for graduating seniors],” notes Veronica Wilde, an energy management lecturer who also handles the program’s external communications.
Wilde adds that the program has added 40 students during Laramie’s tenure as director.
And now that she’s won at the state level, Wilde says, “there’s a massive group from the Denver [energy] industry that’s nominated her for the national level, and she is in the top 3 for the national award right now as well.”
The national recognition is awarded by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), the national accrediting body for Western’s Energy Management program.