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Title: Capital Connections: My Introduction to Business in the District
Author: Brieanna Bookter
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Abstract: Incoming undergraduate students explore local businesses in Washington, D.C. as part of American University’s Welcome Week.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 08/27/2014
Content:

Brieanna Bookter, BSBA '18, is originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Capital Connections is Kogod's annual introduction to area businesses for incoming students. Local companies open their doors for tours, presentations, and Q&A sessions about their operations.

In the weeks leading up to my move to D.C., emails came my way urging me to sign up for a Welcome Week program at American University. I took the time one day to explore my options in programs and was immediately drawn to Capital Connections. I won't lie, I felt obligated to choose the Kogod program since I would soon find the business school to be my little niche here at AU, but I am very glad I felt that obligation. Capital Connections was a truly great experience.

The two-day program opened my eyes to the world of business here in the nation's capital and got me excited for potential internship and job opportunities in the future. My peers and I were introduced to five very unique companies in the District: Honest Tea, Chef Geoff's, 1776, KPMG, and Union Market. It was wonderful to witness their office atmosphere, listen to the companies' missions and visions straight from employees, and learn firsthand what their products and services entail.

The most exciting part was seeing the opportunities that were available for freshmen like us, such as internships within these companies. I also found it reassuring to see all of the opportunities the business world of Washington D.C. has to offer us during the next four years and potentially the rest of our careers.

My network already began to expand after being in Washington for just three days because of Capital Connections. This program helped solidify my decision to attend American University and study within the Kogod School of Business.

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Title: What to Know as You Start at Kogod
Author: Laura Herring
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Abstract: Amanda Fuentes, BSBA ’07, shared her advice for new students at Kogod during the annual Kogod Kickoff celebration.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 08/27/2014
Content:

Be curious. Ask questions. Get involved.

This is just some of the advice Amanda Fuentes, BSBA '07, gave incoming freshmen and transfer students during the annual Kogod Kickoff celebration on August 22.

Fuentes, a commercial business development manager for Boots International, a global health and beauty group, emphasized the role challenging norms has played in her career.

"You will come across companies, systems, and processes that people use because they've always been there and it's what they're used to," Fuentes said. "But my professors [at Kogod] gave me the confidence to ask questions and not [always] accept 'no' as an answer."

A former scholar-athlete, Fuentes also said that students to get involved in on-campus clubs and other activities.

"[My time at Kogod] was about learning discipline and pushing myself beyond my limits," she said, inviting students to develop their own systems of time management.

In addition to running cross-country and track, Fuentes was a member of the Kogod Finance Group (now the Student Managed Investment Fund) and Alpha Kappa Psi, the business fraternity.

"Take advantage of every opportunity this great institution will offer you," she told students. "I promise you, everything you do will create every opportunity that presents itself tomorrow."

Kogod Kickoff followed a week of welcome activities for new undergraduate students, including the local business tour Capital Connections and AU's school-wide Convocation ceremony.

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Title: Alumni Startup Connects Expats Abroad and at Home
Author: Evan Gray and Laura Herring
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Abstract: Hristo Boyadzhiev, BSBA ’08, channels his experiences as an international student in the U.S. into providing networking services for his fellow Bulgarians.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 07/29/2014
Content:

Hristo Boyadzhiev has always been drawn to faraway places and the people he can meet along the journey. Attending American University satisfied both desires for the Bulgarian native.

When Boyadzhiev, BSBA '08, started his freshman year at Kogod in 2004, a family friend who has just graduated from AU gave him a local connection in Washington, D.C. right away.

"The fact that I knew someone who was there, who lived in the city, who would sort of help me around, tipped the scale towards me going [to AU], for sure."

The help he received from that friend was the beginning of Boyadzhiev's mission to help other international travelers create similar connections.

Going Abroad, Giving Back

At Kogod, Boyadzhiev found a community as committed to doing good as he was—what he perceived as a far cry from his native home.

"[American] promoted the idea of giving back to society," he said. "[They] believe in doing business, but making sure that it [gives] results to a community, to society in general, not just yourself. Bulgaria didn’t really have that."

After his graduation, Boyadzhiev and six classmates put that idea to work, creating Tuk Tam, a nonprofit that connects Bulgarians living, working, and studying abroad. To date, the company’s Facebook page has more than 4,000 fans, The name comes from a traditional Bulgarian phrase meaning "here and there."

The service also extends to expatriates returning to Bulgaria, easing the often-overlooked transition back to life at home.

"We [remember] what it's like to come back, and try to give you a network to connect to—people who have done some amazing stuff," Boyadzhiev said. "You can link up and find a job, or just engage in various social activities."

For the past three years, Tuk Tam has hosted a four-day social entrepreneurship challenge, bringing together professionals of all backgrounds to develop new ways to address Bulgarian challenges.

"You have coders and designers on one end, and business people on one end, and [you're trying to] create a [company] in a weekend," he explained.

Boyadzhiev himself participated in similar events before incorporating them into Tuk Tam's offerings. In fact, one such event is how he found a job outside his startup.

After earning his MBA at the ESADE Business School in Barcelona, he returned to Bulgaria and met the founder of Despark, a web development and mobile app agency, through a weekend challenge. When his second competition startup failed to get off the ground, Boyadzhiev got back in touch. He is now the commercial director of the agency.

Since he joined Despark, the company has doubled in size, keeping Boyadzhiev busy. But even while managing Tuk Tam and bouncing between Despark's Sofia and London offices, he still finds time for what he loves.

"I'm [still] trying to do good by others and by me."

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Title: How One Conference Changed Accounting Students’ Career Outlooks
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: Annual conference provides accounting undergraduates the opportunity to meet current professionals and peers.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 07/15/2014
Content:

Executive-in-Residence Emily Lindsay knows there's more to accounting education than can be covered in the classroom. That’s why she encourages students to attend the annual Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants' (VSCPA) Leaders' Institute.

The two-day event provides networking and skill-building sessions with accounting professionals and students from other schools in the region.

This year, five Kogod students attended the conference; this is what they had to say.

Devon Wallick, BS Accounting '16
Hometown: Barrington, Rhode Island

The highlight of the event was when all the participants and coordinators of the conference had a chance to relax with pizza and air hockey and get to know each other. After a long day of informative presentations and networking it was nice to just hang out with my friends who would eventually be my colleagues.

With the [stereotype] about accounting majors being boring, it was nice to see how much fun and lively this group was. It renewed my faith in the accounting field and left me with a lot of great memories.

Blaise Fairfax, BS Accounting '15
Hometown:
Oak Ridge, New Jersey

The event certainly met my expectations and exceeded them. I was able to go to a career fair that had almost 30 employers available to [learn about] their different opportunities and cultures.

The highlight of the event was a speech called "Setting Yourself Up for Success" with Kevin Wright, a campus recruiter with Baker Tilly. It was about specific steps to take while in school to present yourself as an educated, professional candidate to get jobs. Beyond that, he focused on asking yourself why and where you want to end up in the future and solidifying your own values. Being forced to answer those questions has allowed me to be more confident in what I want in my job search.

It was great meeting new people and learning about their different school environments, accounting programs, and potential career paths. In particular, speaking with other students made me realize how many opportunities Kogod offers for its students.

Eliza Hughes, BS Accounting '15
Hometown:
Kennebunk, Maine

[Before the VSCPA conference] I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to do with a degree in accounting and [Emily Lindsay] thought that this would be a good chance for me to get insight into the industry and all of the career opportunities available.

I wasn't sure exactly what I would get out of the event other than learning about the industry, but I got so much more out of it than I had imagined.

I would recommend the Leaders' Institute to any accounting student, whether they know what they want to do or are still as clueless as I was. Getting the chance to interact with other accounting students and industry professionals allowed me to learn about my career options and start to solidify a plan for my future. It was really an invaluable experience.

Brent Sabot, BS Accounting '17
Hometown:
Laurel, Maryland

[I began Kogod] in the BS Finance program, but I will be changing to BS [Accounting] this fall, largely because of my positive experience at the VSCPA Leaders' Institute.

Throughout the spring semester, [Emily] Lindsay advised me on career opportunities in accounting. She encouraged me to attend the event to get a greater perspective. I ultimately attended because I knew it would be an in-depth experience to compare accounting careers to my knowledge of finance careers.

The event exceeded my expectations because there was plenty of learning about the field of accounting, but also plenty of information about professionalism, resumes, internships, etc. After leaving the Leaders' Institute, I felt much more informed and prepared to speak with campus recruiters and other accounting professionals. It was a great experience to have before the busy on-campus recruiting season in the fall.

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Title: AU Grad Unlocks Hidden Treasures in the Big Apple
Author: Kristena Wright
Subtitle:
Abstract: Corey Schneider, Kogod/BSBA ’11, creates a new exploration-driven community named the New York Adventure Club.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 07/11/2014
Content:

Three years ago, Corey Schneider moved to New York, armed with a business administration degree and a dual concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship and innovation, from the Kogod School of Business. Working as associate retention marketing manager for one of the largest media companies in the world, Time Inc., he was living the life. Or was he?  

"I live in the best city in the world and still haven't explored it," he says he realized of his time in the city. That's when he decided to go out every weekend and explore places off the beaten path. He used Google to find the different boroughs, but says he jokes that he had to bribe friends to go with him. "I can't believe no one wants to do this with me," he thought.

This pushed Corey into action. It started with a group he created on Facebook in December 2013. Originally named the New York Adventure Club for Non-Boring People, he decided to cut it down, as to not offend. It became, as it is now, the New York Adventure Club. As a contributor to untappedcities.com., writing articles for them had prepared him for his new vision. Untappedcities.com is a website where contributors share their experience uncovering the best of urban life from cities across the globe. 

"New York has such breathtaking hidden gems. This group helps my time in NY be more fulfilling. People don't take full advantage of their cities. I'm trying to make an overwhelming feat digestible," he observed. After about a month on Facebook, he took it a step further and began booking events. He started with three or four free tours, but his first post only garnered two responses. 

A post about the Brooklyn Army Terminal changed his luck. "I'll never forget the day. I was at work on a Friday afternoon, and over 100 people joined the group in one hour! I freaked out because no secure ticketing plan had been put into place. I just hadn't thought that far ahead," he shares.

The New York Adventure Club is now an active community of more than 600 local urbanites looking to uncover the hidden treasures in their city and meet great people along the way. 

Corey points out, "There's a need to understand the city better. New York Adventure Club helps locals check out places they haven't heard or thought of before. It also gives them an easy way to uncover their hometown treasures. With a simple RSVP, locals can attend a unique, private, or exclusive tour while connecting with a community of like-minded urban explorers." 

The sole operator of the company, Corey sends out an event newsletter every Friday that features affordable and practical weekend events organized by borough. Every event is now a ticketed opportunity. "People have no excuse not to go out and try at least one," he says.

Corey shares that his time at AU really opened his eyes to his business interests. His management and marketing classes proved extremely helpful. "You take classes thinking the real world doesn't operate the way you learn. Once you get out and witness that it does happen that way, you're excited about being knowledgeable."

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Title: Fulbright Internship Grant is First of Its Kind for AU
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: Ana-Cecilia Alvarez, BSBA ’11, will build her skills in international financial services on a unique type of Fulbright grant to Mexico City.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 07/10/2014
Content:

It's no wonder Ana-Cecilia Alvarez, BSBA '11, has always been drawn to international business exploration. Raised by a Spanish father and an American mother, she grew up living in both the U.S. and Madrid, Spain.

Now Alvarez—Ceci to her friends—will be putting that interest to use through a ten-month Fulbright Binational Business Internship grant in Mexico City, beginning in August. According to the AU Office of Merit Awards, Alvarez is the first student from the university to receive this particular grant and is one of just twelve U.S. grantees selected for the program this year.

Fulbright as Fusion

Unlike traditional Fulbright scholarships, where scholars typically teach English in a foreign country or pursue an independent research project, those in the Binational Business Internship program work for Mexican companies and nonprofits in the financial services sector.

"The middle class in Mexico is growing at an unprecedented pace," Alvarez said. "There's a new generation of people who need financial services and education, and I can't wait to be a part of that."

To Alvarez, the Fulbright internship is an opportunity to combine her previous work histories at the United Nations Foundation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to enter into the international financial services sector.

"I've gone down the nonprofit path and the government oversight path and have seen each have their limitations," she said. "While both types of organizations often have the same goal, one is usually limited by funding and the other by bureaucratic processes. I think there is a better way to serve consumers directly."

And that way, she thinks, is to offer better financial tools that can be easily understood and used by consumers.

Knowledge is Power  

Alvarez's desire to empower individuals dates back to the Washington Initiative course she took at Kogod. For the course, students partner with local nonprofit D.C. Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign to help low-income tax filers.

"A lot of the people I met during that program had financial hardships, faced discrimination, and had a long history of being taken advantage of, especially Spanish-speaking immigrants," Alvarez recalled. "They just wanted to pay their taxes and feel productive; they just needed a little help and guidance."

Since that course, Alvarez has continued to volunteer as a filing assistant for Spanish speakers.

"Right now, I would say, my career goal is to better serve Hispanic consumers by offering innovative products, including financial planning and services in the marketplace," she said. "I believe the Fulbright in Mexico will allow me to both contribute my knowledge and further learn about this exciting industry."

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Title: Beyond a Desk Job: Turning a Creative Outlet Into a Career
Author: Evan Gray
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Abstract: Rachel Lincoln, BLC ’11, put her business degree to use through her photography company, where she tells stories about dying traditions.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 06/27/2014
Content:

Rachel Lincoln, BLC '11, came to Kogod expecting a 9-to-5. She left with anything but.

Lincoln, who is trilingual, anticipated that her future career as a language expert would be one filled with cubicles and rote translation work, and her passion for photography would remain a hobby. Yet by the end of her time at Kogod, Lincoln was able to grow what was once a side project into a full-fledged career.

In addition to her business courses, Lincoln diversified her skills by enrolling in photography courses that focused on artistic darkroom work and the craft of photojournalism.

"That opened up a whole new world of creativity for me," Lincoln said.

Her sophomore year, she launched her business: Lincoln Photography. But like most small business owners, Lincoln faced startup challenges.

"When I started out, things didn't necessarily run smoothly. I've definitely gained a lot of business strategy, certainly in terms of marketing methods, but also ways of working with clients to make sure that they are completely happy with the service and the product."

Kogod to Corcoran

After graduating from American University, Lincoln attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design, building upon her undergraduate education by earning a Master of Arts degree in New Media Photojournalism.

Lincoln is a big believer in continuing self-education, and continues to seek out diverse experiences.

"I'm…working on enhancing the more fine art aspect of my work," said Lincoln.

She's also working on a short documentary she began while at the Corcoran. "Alaska Natives: Between Past and Future" details the lives of native Alaskans in Brevig Mission; an isolated town located on the coast of the Bering Strait.

Despite being home to just 400 residents—most of whom are Eskimo—in a remote location, the town teeters on the edge of globalization. As younger generations begin the adoption of more mainstream culture, many of the Eskimo's traditions have started to fade away.

It's this precarious relationship between past and present that Lincoln strives to capture on film.

"I feel compelled to use my knowledge of photography and filmmaking to the document native traditions that are quickly disappearing."

Today, Lincoln's career is a combination of her experiences at Kogod and at the Corcoran, proving that business and art aren't at odds.

"You really, really have to do what you want to do and what you're passionate about," said Lincoln. "If you’re drawn to something artistic, no matter what it is you start out doing, whether it's science, or economics, or business, that background will only help you."

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Title: Inaugural PMBA Cohort Studies Business in Argentina, Uruguay
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: A combination of practitioner visits and cultural explorations in South America gave PMBA students a first-hand look at conducting business across national frontiers.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 06/26/2014
Content:

It's not uncommon for business schools to have site visits to corporate boardrooms or operational centers.

It's more uncommon that students have the opportunity to tour an international shipping port or ground zero for the growth of a nation's wine industry.

But students in the inaugural Professional MBA (PMBA) cohort experienced each of these during their recent trip to Argentina and Uruguay.

For the MBA students, the trip was the chance to see how cultures influence business practices, something easier seen firsthand than read about.

"The trip [demonstrated] the value of spending time immersed in a city to build a … sense for the culture as it guides how business is done," said Susan Fortkiewicz, MBA '14 and a project manager in Global HR Operations at CSC.

"[It] unmasked an interesting European-feeling atmosphere, which helps to explain the way certain businesses are run and interactions are handled," she said.

In addition to visiting South American branches of U.S. companies like Microsoft and EY, formerly Ernst & Young, the cohort toured local companies like NXTP Labs, an accelerator program focused on technology startups in Latin America, and Mercado de Liniers, one of the largest cattle auction houses in Argentina.

Watch a student-produced video from the trip on our Kogod YouTube channel.

According to the students, the PMBA program's cohort structure and close friendships enhanced their whole experience, including free time, site visits and tours.

"Studying abroad with the cohort was a … special experience. Our relationships gave us the confidence to speak up during presentations, form groups easily, encourage one another with our ideas, and engage in deeper discussions about our site visits," said Traci McCombs, MBA '14 and an HR specialist at the National Institutes of Health.

McCombs, Fortkiewicz, and their fellow students will graduate in December of this year, the first cohort in the Professional MBA to do so.

The second cohort will travel to Brazil in May 2015 for its international business experience.

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Title: Work Hard, Play Hard: Conor Osborne Named a Three-Time Patriot League Academic Honor Roll Athlete
Author: Evan Gray
Subtitle:
Abstract: In addition to being a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field, Conor Osborne, BSBA ‘15, excels in the classroom as well.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 06/23/2014
Content:

Even as a toddler, Conor Osborne felt most at home on the soccer field.

"Ever since I started [my] first recreational league when I was three, I loved it," said Osborne, BSBA '15. "It wasn't really hard to keep my interest from there."

Osborne's love for soccer took him through an extensive high school athletic career in his hometown of Radnor, Pennsylvania. As a sophomore, he was named offensive MVP after leading the team in scoring. But Osborne's involvement in athletics didn't stop him from exceptional performance off the field: he graduated with a 3.8 GPA.

He carried his dedication for soccer and academics with him to AU, where he has been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll each of his three years on the team.

Reaching Division I

"I'm pretty high energy, pretty aggressive. I like to get forward and be all over the place, anywhere I can be," Osborne said.

Osborne's energetic attitude enabled him to successfully transition to a new environment at Kogod and AU.

"The college transition was definitely a little bit different, just in terms of how much time [spent] on the road," Osborne said. "During the week you could be going to any number of places, different states, just for a night game on a Wednesday, and all the while, you're trying to study for your economics test on Thursday morning."

Despite his busy schedule, Osborne has continued to succeed both athletically and academically, following in the footsteps of fellow AU Men's Soccer player and Scholar Athlete of the Year for 2014, Colin Seigfreid, BSBA '14.

"I'd say [Conor's] evolved into one of the team leaders," said Todd West, Head Men's Soccer Coach. "We challenge our student athletes, and 'student' comes first. He's very motivated to excel in both [athletics and academics]."

Going Pro

Osborne is also tackling the professional world. This summer, he's interning with Swiss-owned insurance company Zurich North America, an internship he found through the athletic advising support group.

"[The office] was really helpful with putting me in contact with them, and getting me to where I needed to be in terms of interviewing and preparing for everything."

As he approaches his final season at AU, Osborne is optimistic.

"Sophomore year, we were fortunate enough to go undefeated in the Patriot League. That season was really special for me," Osborne said. "Unfortunately we weren't able to lock up the tournament, but that's something we can hopefully accomplish this year. [It's] definitely motivation for the future."

While playing professionally is unlikely, Osborne doesn't have any plans to give up the game entirely.

"Soccer's been a cornerstone of my life, as early as I can remember. Although I may not be playing professionally, I'll play wherever I can, at the highest level that I can balance both work and soccer."

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Title: 2014 an Outstanding Year for National Scholarship Success at AU
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: American University students’ passion and persistence pay off in competitive awards.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 06/18/2014
Content:

Fulbright. Boren. Udall. Pickering. Truman. What do these names have in common? Two things: they’re all prestigious national scholarships and fellowships, and American University (AU) students and alumni earned all of them in 2014.

This was a banner year for AU students and alumni, who were named recipients, alternates, and finalists for nationally competitive scholarships in more than 100 instances. Those recognized represent a variety of programs and majors at AU, highlighting the strength of the university’s academic diversity and the support provided by faculty and staff.

“When a student wins a national scholarship, it is a tribute to his or her vision, time management skills, and willingness to make sacrifices in pursuit of a potentially life-changing opportunity that may or may not come through,” says Paula Warrick, director of the Office of Merit Awards. “The variety of interests our recipients have attests to the broad range of academic departments at AU that are providing great instruction and mentoring.”

Record-Breakers

A record 23 AU students were awarded Boren Scholarships and Fellowships this year. Twelve undergraduates received Boren Scholarships and 11 graduate students received Boren Fellowships, making the university number one in the nation in combined Boren recipients for the second consecutive year.

Boren recipients receive funds to study and conduct research in languages and areas of the world that are deemed critical to U.S. interests. These regions include Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Continued Success

Last year AU was named a Top-Producing Fulbright Institution, with 11 recipients and three alternates. Fifteen AU students have been awarded Fulbright Grants through the U.S. Student Scholars program. In addition, an alumna has been named an alternate for the Fulbright Clinton Fellowship.

The Fulbright Program offers participants—chosen for their academic merit and ambassadorial qualities—the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research around the world. Previous AU Fulbright recipients have traveled to such diverse places as Spain, Venezuela, South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, India, New Zealand, and Ethiopia.

One AU, Many Schools

The recipients of these nationally competitive scholarships are representative of the diverse range of schools and programs at AU and of the student body as a whole.

Eric Rodriguez, from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and Caroline Brazill, from the School of International Service (SIS), became AU’s 10th and 11th Truman Scholars in 10 years. AU is one of only five institutions with multiple Truman Scholars this year. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is a federal scholarship awarded to outstanding college juniors with a commitment to public service and demonstrated leadership potential. Truman Scholars receive significant funding for graduate school and attend a leadership program.

Rachael Somerville, CAS/SIS/BA '15, was named AU’s 13th Udall Scholar since 2007. AU remains second in the U.S. in the number of Udall Scholars over the past eight years. The Udall Scholarship provides support for sophomores and juniors committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Rodriguez, one of this year’s Truman Scholars, was AU’s Udall Scholar in 2013.

Ian Gansler, SPA/BA '17, and Matt Waskiewicz, CAS/SPA/BA '16, were both named Fulbright UK Summer Institute Recipients. The US-UK Fulbright Commission provides opportunities for undergraduates to travel to the UK for an academic and cultural summer program.  

Jalita Moore, SIS/BA '14, became AU’s 12th Pickering Fellow since 2004. The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship provides support and preparation for outstanding candidates to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service, with a special emphasis on students traditionally underrepresented in the U.S. Foreign Service.

This year’s four National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship recipients represent a wide range of majors: Billie Case, CAS/BA '16, is an environmental studies major; Jennifer Makanani Bell, CAS/BA '16, is an anthropology major; Valerie Rennoll, CAS/BA '16, is an audio technology major; and Lindsay Wylie, SIS/CAS/BA '16, is a double major in international studies and mathematics. The NOAA-Hollings Scholarship Program is intended to increase undergraduate training in environmental science and technology and encourage careers in public service and science education. The program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance and a hands-on practical internship.

Faculty Support

Students often credit AU faculty with giving them the best possible preparation needed to win competitive awards. Many faculty members volunteer their time and expertise, going beyond their normal academic duties and making themselves available for advising and practice interviews.

“More than 200 faculty and staff mentors assisted candidates in various ways this past year, overseeing students' preparation of proposals, preparing students for interviews, or helping them sharpen drafts of their applications,” says Warrick. “That is an impressive statement of the value our community attaches to student development. Their support is indispensable, because it gives our office a reach it would not have otherwise."

Congratulations to all of this year’s scholarship recipients, finalists, and alternates.

If you are a current AU student or AU alum and you are interested in learning more about award opportunities, please visit the Office of Merit Awards website.

Tags: Alumni,Career Center,College of Arts and Sciences,Kogod School of Business,Office of Merit Awards,Office of the Provost,Scholarship,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,University Honors Program,Washington College of Law,Study Abroad
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newsId: DFFD8673-B6D2-D0DA-B948D65411B0F821
Title: Luchs Family Scholarship Recipient Molly Fallon Reaps Rewards of Hard Work, Giving Back
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Her appreciation for debate aside, Molly Fallon can agree with her scholarship donor on one of their core values—the importance of giving back and paying it forward.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/29/2014
Content:

As commencement festivities took over campus and fellow classmates fondly reminisced about the best times of their college years, Molly Fallon, Kogod/BSBA ’14, recalled a different kind of memory—arguing.

Not just any kind of arguing, however. “I’ve really appreciated the disagreement and the debate that some of these classes have spurred from us,” said Fallon. “We’ve begun to disagree with one another in very constructive ways and bring some of our convictions forward.”

A Des Moines, Iowa native concentrating in marketing and finance, Fallon was chosen as the undergraduate speaker for the Kogod School of Business 2014 commencement. “Ironically, my fondest learning moments are not about agreement,” she shared with the Bender Arena crowd of faculty, family, and her fellow graduates. “While we might seek comfort in group settings, what we actually need is discomfort.”

For all her talk of discord and dissent, Fallon proved herself a natural collaborator in her time at AU. As a peer consultant in the Kogod Center for Business Communication, she assisted Kogod students with business writing and presentation skills. She also served as treasurer for the sorority Chi Omega, and worked together with about 30 students to oversee a portfolio of $350,000 in AU’s Student Managed Investment Fund. On top of that, she earned one of the school’s most prestigious group accomplishments—her team took home first place in the 2014 Annual Kogod Case Competition.

Recalling the case competition, she admitted, “That should have been one of the most stressful weeks of my life but it really was one of the most fun, honestly. It was a really great moment to leverage everything I had learned in the past four years here and have fun with it.”

Fallon’s leadership skills and community-oriented spirit were rewarded when she was named a recipient of the Luchs Family Scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year. The application process for the scholarship asks students to provide evidence of deep involvement in the Kogod community. Humble, but attuned to the scholarship’s meaning, she reflected, “I think that my history of giving back to fellow students while at Kogod was something that identified me as a strong candidate.”

“I didn’t stand out in terms of numbers,” she shared. “To know that I was recognized for doing hard work, and that hard work wasn’t going unnoticed, [the fact that] it could be rewarded, and I could help myself through college by doing good work was a lot of positive reinforcement for me.”

A couple of days before giving her commencement address, Fallon had the opportunity to meet one of the benefactors of her scholarship, Kenneth J. Luchs, over lunch. The two found that they shared a passion for giving back.

“You can contribute in different ways,” Luchs said. “Money is only one way. Time is another way. Be a mentor to somebody.”

A strong history of civic engagement runs through Kenneth Luchs’ family. From the time his grandfather founded the family’s real estate business, Shannon & Luchs, in 1906, the family has been active in the growth of Washington, taking on leadership roles in various community organizations—a tradition that Luchs himself has carried on. A one-time American University student—taking night classes in real estate while he helped to run the family business by day—Luchs went on to serve on the AU Board of Trustees for 12 years. His afternoon with the recipients of his family’s scholarship marked 50 years—nearly to the day—since his father first introduced him to AU.

“I’d like [the recipients] to know that I’m available to be a mentor, and that I want them to be available as mentors to future students,” said Luchs. “It’s our duty to pay back whatever schools we’ve been educated at.”

Said Fallon after meeting Luchs, “He further instilled in me the belief that we can all do something to give back to those who have profoundly impacted our lives.”

Even as she found inspiration from getting to know her scholarship donor, Fallon had already been taking Luchs’ message to heart. While treasurer of Chi Omega, Fallon brought more scholarships to her sisters, stepping up efforts to identify and publicize existing opportunities, and creating new need-based awards by making minor budgeting adjustments. She has also taken it upon herself to be an advocate, often urging her sisters and students she advises as a peer consultant to apply for certain scholarships. She notes that students don’t realize what great candidates they are, and all they need is to know that the opportunities exist.

“I think that’s something really important—the idea of students helping students find and seek out scholarship opportunities,” said Fallon. “I am glad to have left that legacy.”






 

Tags: Center for Business Communications,Commencement,Giving,Kogod School of Business,Scholarship
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Title: Business & Public Affairs: A Perfect Marriage
Author: Phil Recchio
Subtitle:
Abstract: Ben, Kogod/MBA ’11, and Christina Macfarland, SPA/MPA ’11, entrepreneurially apply their skills in South Florida, while giving back to AU.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/15/2014
Content:

Ben, Kogod/MBA ’11, and Christina Macfarland, SPA/MPA ’11, came to AU together, shortly after getting married in their native state of Florida, to pursue their individual academic and professional interests. Christina’s passion for nonprofit work and supporting her community led her to pursue a Master of Public Administration and,a graduate certificate in nonprofit management, whereas Ben built off his undergrad business degree by focusing his MBA studies on real estate and finance. Since graduation, they have returned to their home state to not only put their degrees to work, but also spread word of AU’s excellence while galvanizing the Florida alumni community. 

This past February, Christina and Ben hosted more than 60 AU alumni, parents, and friends in their Palm Beach home, and had the chance to catch up with their old neighbor, Vice President of Alumni Relations and Development, Dr. Thomas J. Minar. Before Dr. Minar delivered updates regarding campus plans and alumni initiatives within the South Florida community, Christina reminisced about her time working in the AU development department for corporate and foundation giving, and Ben remembered hunkering down in their condo during the infamous Snow-maggedon storm of 2010. 

These types of close relationships serve as a beautiful model for how the Office of Alumni Relations and Development seeks to engage AU alumni, and Christina and Ben are no strangers to the world of philanthropy and volunteering. Christina is a board member for the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, where fellow master’s alumna Jillian Vukusich, CAS/MA ’04, serves as vice president for community investment.  

Christina continues her educational pursuits, and is a recent graduate of "Leadership Palm Beach County," which kept her up to date on the latest trends in philanthropic and non profit leadership. This is especially important for those as involved in their communities as she is. She volunteers and has served on numerous committees for The Flagler Museum, March of Dimes, Historical Society of Palm Beach County, the Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Presently, Christina performs research and writing for Women Corporate Directors, the only global membership organization of women corporate directors which serves as a catalyst for thought leadership and networking.

In addition to serving on his high school’s alumni board and helping to recruit great students to AU, Ben founded a local publication, Palm Beach Philanthropy, to showcase and educate the public to the diverse causes being supported right in their backyard. While philanthropy has always been a passion and a practice for the Macfarlands, Ben also puts his MBA to work running a boutique asset management firm that focuses on investing family office and institutional capital into self storage, student housing, and other special situations in real estate. The firm, where Ben serves as a partner and chief investment officer, has successfully acquired over two million square feet of real estate in the last two years.

The Macfarlands' collective energy and productivity is even more impressive in light of the fact they’ve accomplished so much all while raising their blossoming family. While their two young girls are a handful at home, Ben and Christina have a long standing history of supporting each other through thick and thin. While on campus, they could be seen attending a kick-off event to help rally support for Christina’s successful run for Editor-in-Chief of the SPA journal The Public Purpose, and nowadays they work to balance their busy schedules of business and board meetings with family meals and outings. 

Thankfully, the Macfarlands have continued their tradition of support as alumni by hosting the recent event for the South Florida AU Eagle community. As for the beautiful marriage of Ben’s business degree and Christina’s nonprofit policy focus, its power can be encapsulated by an Arthur Fried quote: “Private philanthropy is the last frontier of unconstrained freedom for private action in the public good.” AU is lucky to count this entrepreneurial and philanthropically minded young couple among its alumni family.

Tags: Alumni,Kogod School of Business,School of Public Affairs
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Title: Building Upon a Family History
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle:
Abstract: After her valuable AU experience—and now her daughter’s—Mary McCarthy Hayford and her family are helping lay the groundwork for the university’s next generation.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/27/2014
Content:

Stroll along the west side of the quad, passing Frisbees floating across the grass and cheerful student organizations camped outside of Mary Graydon, and at either end of campus you will find a building that has been transformed within the last five years. Across the street from the Katzen Arts Center, the Kogod School of Business opened a 20,000-square-foot expansion in 2008. A few hundred yards down, next to Bender Library, stands the newly reopened McKinley building, the state-of-the-art new home of the School of Communication. Though housing separate schools, and situated on opposite ends of campus, there’s a strong thread connecting the two of them—the Hayford family.

Mary McCarthy Hayford, Kogod/MBA ’78, did her graduate work at AU’s business school, but when she attended, it did not yet bear the Kogod name. It was simply called the School of Business Administration. Classes were housed in the Ward Circle Building, and offices were in the cozy quarters of the Hamilton Building (known then as Hamilton Hall).

“I remember picking AU based on my perception that the administrators and faculty were more accessible,” McCarthy Hayford shares as she recalls her AU experience. “I look back not only on the great full-time professors in subjects which appeal to me, but also on several adjunct professors who imparted real world experiences. For me, that exposure to professionals working in industry was essential to seeing how the theoretical was applied in the real world, and to envisioning the type of career I would want to pursue.”

When the Kogod School of Business announced plans for its expansion campaign, Mary and her husband, Warren, signed on to help by making a major contribution to the building. Their generosity is marked by a plaque adorning one of the new classrooms inside, which displays their names.

Then, three years later, when the effort to renovate McKinley began, the Hayfords were there again, eager to give back once more, naming the facility’s new audio editing suite.

Why jump in to support another major project, especially when the family had so significantly dedicated themselves to an effort close to their hearts just a few years earlier? One reason is that their daughter, Margaret, SOC/BA ’13, just finished a very positive undergraduate career in the School of Communication.

“We feel strongly that SOC and AU provided Margaret with the experience she needs to pursue her career goals,” McCarthy Hayford articulates. “AU was one of few schools where she could study film and graphic design while still broadening her education in history, science and social science. She capped off her SOC experience with a semester in the film school in Prague where she worked with a small group to create a professional-quality film.”

In addition to Margaret, the Hayfords are parents to Amanda, a 2006 alumna of Oberlin College, and Warren, who graduated from George Washington University in 2012. Ms. McCarthy Hayford’s husband, Warren John Hayford, is the president and managing director of the software company RatioServices, and is a director of the Warren J. and Marylou Hayford Family Foundation, which his parents founded. The foundation has been instrumental in the Hayfords’ gifts to American University.

Though she has graduated—as have her children—McCarthy Hayford remains an avid learner. While embarking on a path toward starting a new career, she has been steadily auditing courses at the university. “Wherever that takes me, I hope to keep close ties to AU.”

Tags: Donor,Giving,Kogod School of Business,School of Communication
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Title: Legal Eagle Utilizes AU Education to Establish Domestic and International Niche
Author: Milt Jackson
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU alumnus’ expertise in law impacts domestic and international cases.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/15/2013
Content:

Philadelphia attorney and Kogod class of ’71 alumnus Theodore “Ted” Simon is having a wonderful career. Among other achievements, he has obtained reversals in the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts. In addition to his longstanding successful representation of individuals and corporations locally, nationally, and internationally in state and federal trial and appellate matters (“white collar,” “blue collar” and “no collar”) he is a recognized authority on the subject of international extradition requests, and he has provided advice and counsel to multiple Americans abroad who have found themselves in challenging legal straits.

Accordingly, while accomplishing these achievements and elevating his law practice into a respected national and international niche – he also has become a “go-to guy” for advice and adept handling of high profile media driven cases - where he credits his AU experiences for assisting him to consistently achieve and maintain success.

After graduating from AU, and later, Temple University Law School, Ted joined the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and began to exercise his passion for litigation and criminal law. His drive, focus, creativity, and comprehensive approach eventually earned him a listing as one of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best Lawyers in Philadelphia;” a selection as a “Pennsylvania Super Lawyer,” and an invited membership in the National Trial Lawyers Organization (a group composed of the top 100 trial lawyers from each state).

Additionally in 2012, he was sworn in as first vice president of the NACDL, a position he relishes because it allows him to play a more specific part in ensuring justice and due process and at the same time recognizing the important and noble work of criminal defense lawyers around the country.

Communicating his passion for justice and due process is another of Ted’s many talents. His most recent appearance, as a guest on CNN and Soledad O’Brien’s “Starting Point” is a case in point. On the show, Ted presented an articulate and seasoned perspective on the complex legal considerations surrounding bail for Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius – who is currently accused of murder in South Africa.

He told O'Brien that Pistorius was a good candidate for bail. He is called upon as a legal expert by honing his speaking as a sought-after speaker for legal seminars across the nation and his numerous on-camera appearances on all major networks and shows including NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s The Early Show, Larry King Live, Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC’s 20/20, and NBC’s Dateline.

As a result of his recognized communications skills and legal ability, Ted’s client list has included Michael Fay (Singapore caning), Amanda Knox (college student acquitted of murder in Italy), boxing promoter Don King, Gregory Porter (college student accused but all charges dismissed in 2011 protest in Egypt), Chipper Jones (civil defense), New York real estate heir Robert Durst (favorable resolution of federal firearms offenses in Pennsylvania after acquittal in Texas murder and dismemberment case), NBA forward Dante Cunningham (dismissal of alleged drug and other criminal offenses), Drexel’s starting guard Derrick Thomas (dismissal of assault charges) as well as other clients involved in high-profile legal matters.

Ted credits AU for helping to provide a solid academic foundation for his success. He says, “I was just 16, leaving home for the first-time, and the American University environment, the teachers and classmates, soon to be life-long friends could not be more warm, welcoming and supportive. In hindsight it provided the absolute perfect opportunity to grow, excel academically, and provide a rich and enduring network of beloved friends that began the first day and happily remains so today.”

When asked about how he feels about the practice of law after nearly 40 years, he answered, “I feel the same, but more so - it is a gift to be a lawyer, providing care, assistance, and representation in some of the worst of times, whether a person is criminally facing loss of liberty or civilly and entitled to redress and compensation.”

In response to Ted’s appreciation of American University and for all the university has done for him, Ted recently offered his network, time, and support in assisting with planning of an alumni engagement event in downtown Philadelphia. The event was a resounding success due to the participation of Ted and other alumni.

While the law is clearly his personal and professional passion, Ted's continued relationship with his AU Zeta Beta Tau brothers is primarily a personal passion. He says “primarily” because privilege and privacy protects their confidentiality as even here he has been called upon professionally in “life-altering situations.” Ted couldn’t have been happier “to have their back when they needed it most.”

His relationship with the “ZBT Powerhouse of Excellence” brotherhood began when he attended AU and has only strengthened since then. Ted is everlastingly thankful and appreciative of his classmates who have remained truly supportive of his work, accomplishments, and resulting national and international presence in the law.

So the next time you hear the words, “legal expert” mentioned during a news broadcast, pay close attention. It may be that an AU alumnus, by the name of Ted Simon, is about to hold court.

Tags: Alumni,Kogod School of Business,Law
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Title: Real-Life Experiences of AU Alumnus Hits the Big Screen in Blockbuster Hit Argo
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: American University alumnus Mark Lijek, Kogod/MBA ’76, has lived quite the adventure—one big enough to create Hollywood Oscar buzz.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/12/2012
Content:

American University alumnus Mark Lijek, Kogod/MBA ’76, has lived quite the adventure—one big enough to create Hollywood Oscar buzz. Lijek was one of six employees lucky enough to escape the protests and attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Iran more than 30 years ago. Their story is the premise of the blockbuster movie Argo.

Lijek arrived in Iran in July 1979 and was only there a few short months before he nearly missed becoming a hostage. With his wife, Cora, by his side along with five others, the group became known as the “houseguests” of the Canadian Embassy for about 10 weeks before leaving the country posing as a film crew and making it back to safely to the U.S.

It was not fear as much as boredom that got the best of Lijek. “Boredom was one of the hardest things to face,” Lijek says. The group played scrabble, and he read many books, writing each title down as he completed it to help record the passing of time.

A recent story published on MyNorthWest.com chronicled details regarding the sequence of events leading to Lijek and the other officers escaping the embassy. Interviews with Lijek and other houseguests will be a special feature of the DVD release of Argo next year. However, as with any film, there is only so much time to share the story. “The movie is a slice of the real story which was why I wrote the book The Houseguests: A Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery,” Lijek says.

Lijek completed a Master in Business Administration at AU, attending class part-time in the evenings while he served in the United States Army during the day. “As an administrative officer for the State Department, I used my graduate degree a fair amount. It prepared me quite a bit,” he says.

Lijek moved to Washington, D.C. from Seattle to complete his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University. He retired from the Foreign Service to spend more time with his wife and children. He lives just outside of Seattle and keeps busy by promoting his new book and managing his website, marklijek.com.   

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Relations,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Kogod School of Business
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Title: Alumni Offer an Unconventional Introduction to Shanghai
Author: Melissa Bevins '02
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jamie Barys and Kyle Long met while studying abroad and have turned their passion into a business.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/15/2012
Content:

When Jamie Barys, SOC/BA ’07, and Kyle Long, Kogod/BSBA ’07, studied abroad together in Beijing during their junior year, they left knowing that they wanted to return to China. 

Upon graduation, Kyle moved to Shanghai to teach. Jamie had a corporate job in Washington, D.C. for a while before deciding that it wasn’t for her and moving to Xiamen, China to work as a food writer. The two reconnected and decided to start a business together in Shanghai. 

Both recalled hearing the age-old advice that success comes with doing something about which you are passionate and decided that they wanted to love what they do. Jamie loves to eat. Kyle loves to run and eat. Both love finding off-the-beaten-path places and sharing their findings with friends and family. 

These shared passions led them to start UnTour Shanghai, an urban adventure tourism company specializing in unique and personal day tours, including jogging sightseeing tours, culinary tours, and cultural excursions. Jamie serves as the Chief Eating Officer while Kyle serves as the Chief Running Officer.

Jamie recalls that her first dinner in Beijing was a bad experience. She didn’t speak the language and couldn’t order, and the person who was ordering for her party decided to play a practical joke on the group. She wants to help others avoid that experience and to take the guesswork out of eating well in Shanghai.

“I know how intimidating it can be,” says Jamie, of traveling to a new city and trying to partake in the local foods without speaking the language. To avoid this and help tourists get off on the right foot, UnTour Shanghai provides all its customers with a welcome package that includes restaurant and dish recommendations in the neighborhood.

UnTour Shanghai offers a schedule of weekly public tours as well as several options for private group tours. All tours have a limited number of spaces, as Jamie and Kyle aim to keep them intimate and personalized. 

December 1 will mark the two year anniversary of UnTour Shanghai. Both Jamie and Kyle are excited to celebrate the milestone and look forward to what the future holds for the company they’re growing together.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,China,School of Communication,Kogod School of Business
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Title: Young Alum Builds on Valuable Relationships
Author: Rebecca Youngerman, SPA/BA '00, SPA/MPA '12
Subtitle:
Abstract: Rich Golaszewski, Kogod/BSBA ’07, has aspired to achieve since he first came to American University.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 10/10/2012
Content:

Rich Golaszewski, Kogod/BSBA ’07, has aspired to achieve since he first came to American University in 2003 as a freshman from Philadelphia.

He used that drive to launch a professional career in financial services. Golaszewski works in New York as a vice president at Nomura Securities International—a leading global investment bank—in Equity Derivatives sales and trading.
 
“The encouragement to go above and beyond has been especially valuable,” he said. “At Kogod, I learned the art of networking and the value of relationships, which has proved extremely beneficial in my career.“

On October 20, Golaszewski will receive the Rising Star Award, which recognizes young alumni who are already making significant contributions to greater society through professional or philanthropic work.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award; it truly means a lot…I continue to try to spend my free time on things that I really care about, and Kogod is at the top of the list,” Golaszewski says.

Golaszewski found his niche on campus through academics and a range of student leadership activities. Participation in the Student Managed Investment Fund (then the Kogod Finance Group) was particularly impactful. Gaining valuable skills in investment management and the stock market aided in building industry knowledge, and the leadership roles built softer traits such as public speaking and organization.

For Golaszewski, peers were mentors. He says, “The outgoing student body always had you thinking how you could do more to better your chances at landing the job you wanted, and this really resonated in me and motivated me to explore different industries through internships and challenging coursework.”

Golaszewski has found meaningful and lasting ways to give back to the university. Last fall, he helped conceptualize and launch the New York Finance Network, a new affinity group open to American University graduates working in the finance and real estate industries.

Golaszewski regularly connects with current students, offering guidance and advice about making the most of their time on campus and beyond.

He also has demonstrated his leadership through financial support of the school, and is encouraging others to do the same by serving as a signatory on the recent solicitation for the Kogod Dean’s Fund that was sent to nearly 1,500 fellow supporters.

Golaszewski’s Kogod relationships are very personal. He is the proud older brother of Jesse Golaszewski, Kogod/BSBA ’12, and is newly engaged to a fellow alum, Shannon Westfall, Kogod/BSBA ’07.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Alumni Weekend,Kogod School of Business,Kogod Undergraduate Finance Group
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Title: Travis Lay: From AU Basketball Star to Alumni Board Member
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Once a leader on the basketball court, Travis Lay continues to lead AU as a member of the Alumni Board.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/10/2012
Content:

Most alumni remember Travis Lay, Kogod/BSBA ’08, as the men’s basketball captain who led the Eagles to the prestigious NCAA tournament for the first time in 2008, but Lay is incredibly accomplished both on and off the court. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from American University and continues to give back to his alma mater as a member of the Alumni Board. Lay also embodies the AU spirit of service by donating his time to Year Up, a local charity that provides mentorship to disadvantaged young adults.


Unsurprisingly, basketball was a major factor in Lay’s decision to attend AU. “I grew up in Maryland, right outside D.C., so [by attending AU], my family would be able to see me play. I also knew AU had a strong chance of going to the NCAA tournament. … The combination of that and AU’s strong academics and business school was exactly what I was looking for.”

Lay says the support of the AU community helped boost the team to the NCAA tournament in 2008. “It was encouraging to see the university really get behind us as we succeeded in my senior year. … People were proud of the AU basketball team. It was a unique experience – to walk around campus and have so many people recognize me. And it was great to raise the profile of American University to a national level,” he adds.

After graduation, he moved overseas and played basketball professionally, with stints in England and Australia. Lay elaborates, “I never had the opportunity to study abroad, as many AU students do, so that was a great experience for me to live abroad and play ball before settling down in my real career [in finance].”

Currently, Lay works for SC&H Group, where he helps businesses implement financial software tools. He is pursuing his certification in public accounting and credits AU and his externships as a student with Beers & Cutler and Deloitte for preparing him for the world of finance. He also was very close with the late Kogod Professor Sue Marcum.

In his spare time, Lay is a member of the Alumni Board where he represents the young alumni point of view. He also mentors inner-city young adults through Year Up, a charity that helps minority adults, aged 18 to 24, transition from high school to either higher education or a professional career. Lay says that while growing up, he often played sports with teammates from similar backgrounds as the young adults he mentors, so he can relate to them. He even shot hoops with one of his mentees: “I was in my business clothes at the time, but I told [the other players], ‘Just so you know, I’m not awful at basketball.’”

That’s certainly an understatement, but is typical of Lay. He is modest about his accomplishments, crediting God and luck for his accomplishments and skills on the court and insisting that the Eagles’ victorious 2008 season, culminating in the NCAA tournament, was a team effort – the product of four years of hard work and practice together. In fact, the moments spent with his teammates are his favorite memories of AU.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Kogod School of Business,Athletics
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Title: Taking the World by Storm: Two AU Alumnae Inspired to Travel
Author: Heather Buckner, SPA/MPA '10
Subtitle:
Abstract: Imagine spending Christmas in Germany, New Year’s in Ireland, and your birthday en route from Austria to Italy all in the same year. This dream trip is two AU alumnae’s reality as they travel around the world for their “American Gap Year.”
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/14/2011
Content:

Imagine spending Christmas in Hamburg, Germany; New Year’s in Galway, Ireland; and your birthday on a train from Vienna, Austria, to Rome, Italy, all in the same year. This dream trip is two AU alumnae’s reality as they travel around the world for what they’re calling their “American Gap Year.”

The two 2006 AU grads are former roommates Laura Hockensmith, KSB/BSBA, and Stephanie Vavonese, SPA/BA.

Hockensmith had been working for Houlihan Lokey since the summer after her AU graduation, first as a financial analyst and then as an associate. Vavonese had been working for Accountants International since the fall after her AU graduation, first as an associate staffing consultant and then as a staffing consultant. They had both heard about Europeans and other young adults from other countries who had taken “gap years,” but knew few Americans who had followed suit.

“We were both at the points in our lives and careers where we knew we needed a change,” Hockensmith remarks. “We decided that it was ‘now or never’ to take this trip because of limited commitments at the time.”

As Hockensmith notes on their travel blog, “It’s a lot to give up (job, apartment, settled lifestyle, seeing family and friends regularly), but there is definitely so much to gain. This trip will allow me to visit new countries, experience cultures so different from my own, meet people that I would never meet elsewhere and also take some time for myself and develop new perspectives on who I am and what I want to do.”

The two have traveled to a long list of places in North, Central, and South America, Europe, and the Middle East already, as they’re over halfway through their year. Following stops in Mauritius and South Africa, they will next travel to several destinations in Asia before returning home in July 2011.

If you’re thinking that their trip has been all play and no work, think again. “On the road, every moment is a time to do something new, meet new people, etc.,” Hockensmith notes. “So far during our travels, we’ve met so many amazing people, some of whom we’ve met with again around the world after the initial meeting – inspiring us to change our initial itinerary.”

Hockensmith and Vavonese had several experiences traveling prior to this year-round trip, including several family vacations (both domestic and international), study abroad in France and New Zealand (respectively) while students at AU, and other travels together in the years since they met as students at AU.

Hockensmith and Vavonese met through the AU club crew team during their freshman year at AU and have remained close friends ever since. They remained active with AU, often attending events in the D.C. area. Hockensmith also served on the Young Alumni Chapter Board before beginning her travels and even though she is halfway around the world, has agreed to help serve on her five-year reunion planning committee for the Class of 2006 to be held in Washington, D.C. this October.

If you’re interested in getting involved with your class reunion, please e-mail reunion@american.edu with your name, grad information, and how you’d like to get involved.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Alumni Weekend,Kogod School of Business,School of Public Affairs
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newsId: C813D4CE-0507-C98A-86648FA82EDF1443
Title: Inspired by Lady Day, Carole Boston Weatherford, KSB/BA ’77, Writes Jazzy Poetry and Prose
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Carole Boston Weatherford, KSB/BA ’77, has won numerous awards for her children’s books and poems and seeks to educate a new generation on the past, prejudice, and overcoming adversity.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/08/2010
Content:

Growing up in the 1960s, professor and award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford, KSB/BA ’77, aspired to be many things but says she always was a writer, citing Harriet the Spy as an inspiration: “She was a writer. That’s how she spied; she wrote,” Weatherford recalls. “James Bond flicks were just coming out, spy toys were being developed. But those were ‘boy toys.’ I couldn’t have a 007 spy kit, but when I read Harriet the Spy, I realized I could have a notebook. I could write, so I could be a spy.”

Though her cloak and dagger aspirations of espionage faded with childhood, Weatherford’s dream of writing remained strong. She has penned numerous books, mostly aimed at children and young adults, and she has won countless accolades, including the NAACP Image Award. But Weatherford’s proudest accomplishment was writing Becoming Billie Holiday, a book of biographical poems chronicling the singer’s early life, which won a Coretta Scott King Author Honor. Weatherford declares, “It was the book I was born to write.”

While at AU, Weatherford was in the University Learning Center independent study program, where she could design her own degree and major. “Because it was independent study, I developed research skills that I would use in my literary career… At AU, I began to learn to make my own way. ”

She was also assistant manager at the record co-op. Combining her studies with her interests, Weatherford created a course called The Poetry of the Blues and read Billie Holiday’s autobiography, which piqued her interest in the jazz singer.

Unsure if young adult readers would know who Holiday was, Weatherford delayed writing Becoming Billie Holiday until she visited the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. While standing near a wax figure of Billie Holiday, she overheard a young girl in middle school exclaim, “Ooh! Billie Holiday! …She could really sing!”

Weatherford had an epiphany: “I looked back at the wax figure, and it was almost as if Billie said, ‘I told you: you need to write my book.’”

Many of Weatherford’s works feature African American characters and historical figures. She is currently working on a book about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. As an author and teacher, Weatherford believes, “My mission is to mine the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles… so kids won’t carry prejudices forward into their future.”

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