Laurie Havanec was just 27 years old when she felt a lump in her neck.
It turned out to be cancer and instantly turned her world upside down. She remembers looking at her two-year-old son and thinking she might not get to see him grow up.
“That had a huge impact on me personally,” Havanec ’82 (BUS), ’94 JD said. “It made me think that life is short, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. It made me think about the things I hadn’t done and could control and made me think of going back to law school.”
It was the best decision she ever made. UConn Law School taught her how to spot issues quickly, make decisions, and assert herself, skills that have served her well in her successful corporate career.
Now Havanec, who heads Human Resources at the Otis Elevator Co., wants to help other women by smoothing their path to law school.
Havanec, who didn’t finish paying off her own school loans until 10 years ago, recently endowed a need-based scholarship that will help generations of women afford to go to UConn Law School. She knows from personal experience that a scholarship can make all the difference for a student just beginning to develop her career.
Her scholarship is the first graduate-level scholarship to be provided by UConn Women and Philanthropy, a network that raises scholarships for and provides mentoring to female UConn students.
A Connective native, Havanec grew up in Hamden and went to UConn as an undergraduate. Her family has a rich UConn heritage. Her father and sister are graduates and her nephew is currently attending the school.
After graduating with a degree in marketing, she worked in sales, got married, and had two sons, Ryan and Zack. Later, while at law school, she sold real estate and did a summer internship at Pepe and Hazard. Upon graduating, she passed on an offer to go into private practice after receiving an offer from United Technologies. Her long and successful career path has taken her from UT to Sikorsky, Aetna, and now to Otis, where she is responsible for 68,000 employees worldwide.
Havanec feels strongly about supporting other women, who are often trying to balance careers, family, and other obligations.
“I have had women who sponsored me throughout my career, who have made me stronger and better and have taken risks on me. I’m pretty passionate about doing that in my professional, day-to-day work—to make sure I’m sponsoring women. This scholarship gives me the chance to do it in a somewhat new and different way that has the opportunity to be incredibly impactful.”
Havanec was recognized for her meaningful gift at the annual Women and Philanthropy scholarship brunch held at the law school on Nov. 2, 2019.