Drew Johnson (’13) holds a different opinion of higher education than he once did. After dropping out of high school, he worked in call centers and retail before running his own business for two years.

In fall of 2007, he started at Pikes Peak Community College, becoming very involved in campus activities, including serving one year as student body president.

When he transferred to UCCS for a Business Administration degree, he continued that momentum and focus. He found scholarship opportunities, including Reach Your Peak and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, and also co-founded the Green Action Fund.
There were several instructors or professors who were “absolutely amazing,” including Dr. Ken Sylvester, adjunct Gary Smith, Dr. Dustin Bluhm, and Dr. Tom Duening, who really challenged Drew.

“UCCS is such a supportive environment. I’m so thankful for the resources to teach me and empower me to succeed. It’s a real education instead of just a degree.”

As part of his Leadership Class requirements, he volunteered at Blue Star Recyclers, a “wonderful experience,” and later accepted a full-time position, staying for 18 months.

In June 2014, he launched his own company, TechWears, creating jewelry and (reversible, adjustable) circuit board neckties from recycled electronics.

Since the beginning, these popular products have been shipped to 14 countries and 22 states. He also makes rings, pendants, cuff links, earrings and bracelets.

“It’s just been a rollercoaster ride.”

TechWears keeps growing – in the 4th quarter of 2015, for instance, volume increased 35 percent year over year.

Principles he learned at UCCS have helped him, such as creating entrepreneurial ventures in spaces with few competitors – and moving quickly, so other companies cannot catch up. Also, the opportunity to allocate and disperse funds, while being fiscally accountable to other students, through the Green Action Fund, helped prepare Drew for his career.