They weren’t the only enterprising students among this year’s Best & Brightest. Bryce Tayengco helped pay his tuition to Fordham University’s Gabelli School by working as a bike courier. Last summer, Cory Levy — a University of Miami Finance and Legal Studies major — brewed and delivered coffee to the Miami Marlins baseball team during home games. When COVID hit, Monica Murphy returned home from the University of Wisconsin. Her response: she turned her garage into a makeshift command center and sold her neighbor’s unwanted items — “and turned a profit for all those involved.”
CHIPOLTE: THE CURE FOR EXISTENTIAL DREAD
Here are a few mind-blowing factoids about the Class of 2022. Bucknell University’s Luke Grover plays bagpipes, while Miami University’s Christopher Walker has mastered seven instruments. Then again, George Ingrish earned his pilot’s license at 17, and works as a commercial pilot and flight instructor in his spare time. He even flew relief supplies into South Lafourche Parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. At Tulane University, one of his legacies will be launching the school’s first aviation club.
“My efforts to organize these people into Tulane Aviation club allowed us to tap into local and alumni resources to connect interested students with flight opportunities and mentors,” Ingrish explains. “We hosted many guest speakers, including the former CFO of JetBlue, aviation safety analysts, military pilots, airline pilots, and popular aviation influencers. At one point, the Career Center lead at our business school was sending me students interested in the aviation industry so that they could learn more and connect with some of the guest speakers we hosted. We also negotiated with a local flight school to secure exclusive flight training discounts for TU Aviation members. It was gratifying to see students getting in the airplane that wouldn’t have been able to do so without the help of the club.”
Flying is just one of the many ways that the Best & Brightest fill their spare time. Assata Folasade King, a marketing major and theater minor at Drexel University, lists several hobbies: “Sketching, styling, modelling, singing, painting, rapping, [and] daydreaming.” The University of Houston’s Brianna Robertson engages in a different set of activities: “Rock climbing, swimming, refurbishing vintage furniture, and color coding my Google Calendar.” After her University of North Carolina meal plan was cancelled during COVID, Lillie Bridges discovered a new passion: cooking. And to find meaning amid the dread and absurdity of existence, Cassie Trosino turns to existential philosophy. When Kierkegaard and Nietzsche can’t assuage her doubt, there is always one outlet certain to bring her joy.
“Chipotle. Enough said,” jokes the Texas Christian University Marketing major.
THE INSTINCT TO START AND SOLVE
Sometimes, the schools themselves foster student interest: Case in point: the University of Richmond and Mihir Shroff. “I love producing music…Over the years, I have gotten better at producing and mastered my production software. I was awarded a grant by the university during my senior year which enabled me to essentially build a recording studio in my room. I have my music published on all major streaming services.”
Looking for influence? At the University of Pittsburgh, Carolyn Zedalis was voted into the Pitt Business 25@25, which honors the most influential alumni, faculty, and students over the past quarter century at the College of Business Administration. It might be an understatement to call Josh Lee’s summer internship a success. The University of Washington senior was named the Accenture Student Consultant of the Year. At the same time, the University of Miami’s Justin Hier and Tulane University’s Max Dambach both gained national attention by earning sports writing platforms at SB Nation and Bleacher Report respectively.
“[I] have interviewed NFL stars like Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry and Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins,” Hier writes. “My work in that industry has allowed me to cultivate wonderful relationships with co-workers and fellow fans. One of the aspects of my work in that industry that I most cherish is that it allows me to connect with people I meet all over campus and beyond simply by sharing a love of sports and football.”
Problem-solving is one instinct that often defined this year’s Best & Brightest Business Majors. As President of Emory University’s Programming Council, Thomas Heagy was responsible for planning student activities on campus. When COVID forced classes online, Heagy pivoted too, connecting students through a website the provided virtual programming —generating over 40K page views from 70 countries. At Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School, you’ll find Eliana Berger. Her claim to fame: she founded a non-profit equity accelerator, which has helped 50 companies raise over $20 million dollars from investors. Berger’s classmate, Brian Miller, left his mark by co-founding the school’s first LGBT student club.
“Navigating the lengthy and difficult process of registering a club, recruiting, and planning and hosting events have provided phenomenal learning opportunities,” he writes. “You must think about your organization as a business. What value am I providing to the student body? How can I differentiate and market my club? How can I retain members? I’ve loved watching the organization grow over the last few years and knowing that our group is making the business school a more welcoming and inclusive community.”
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME…NOT WITHOUT THE RIGHT PERSON
And supportive too. That was thinking behind Anastasia Plank starting the first peer mentorship program at Seton Hall’s Stillman School. The program pairs accomplished upperclassmen with freshmen and transfers to help them acclimate to school and transition into business. Over two years, the program has grown to 180 participants.
“It has been extremely rewarding for me to watch the program come to fruition and to see the countless number of students the program has been able to positively affect,” she explains. “I have witnessed freshmen land amazing internships, decide on their majors, create excellent resumes, and take complete control of their four-year university plan. These accomplishments make all the hard work, effort, and time that went into the creation of the program completely worth it.”
Other Best & Brightest students may not have launched programs, but they made history nonetheless. That was particularly true at the University of Dayton, home of the Davis Center for Portfolio Management. Here, Bridget Momper became the center’s first female senior manager since 2007. Under her leadership, Davis emerged as the country’s largest student-run fund with $64.6 million dollars under management. Her classmate, Carolyn Haney, produced an equally impressive feat at UD’s Flyer Enterprises, the country’s sixth-largest student-run business. Starting as a sales associate serving coffee and pastries, Haney rose to become the CEO in less than three years. And her leadership couldn’t have come a moment too soon notes Vincent C. Lewis, the school’s Associate Vice-President of Entrepreneurial Initiatives.
“Carolyn had the extremely difficult task of essentially restarting a multi-million dollar business that had been dormant for a year due to COVID-19. She had to lead a student-run business that has almost 200 student employees in a highly fluid environment that required her and her executive team to act quickly and decisively to run the business. Despite all the challenges Carolyn was able to lead this team to record sales, and their first off-campus operation. Her leadership and poise under pressure are an inspiration.”
A CAREER AS AN EXPRESSION OF SELF
An “inspiration” is how many people would describe Julia Renee Lower, whose four years were marked by advocacy for sexual assault victims and DEI initiatives. “My proudest achievement occurred in my senior year at MSU. In December 2021, I addressed the Michigan State University Board of Trustees and advocated for sexual assault justice policy reform. As a survivor, it took years to heal from trauma. However, I refused to let what happened to me define me. Advocating for myself and the thousands of other people like me was empowering and validating. I’m proud of my character and having the courage to speak up for what is right. This is something I will always carry with me.”
The Class of 2022 will also carry much more with them as they graduate in May. You’ll find this year’s class heading off to the usual paths: McKinsey, Google, Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young, and PwC — not to mention starting a business or returning for graduate school. Long-term, many maintain a distinct vision for their future. Hult’s Zachary Benetatos hopes to someday lead an entrepreneurship accelerator, while NYU Stern’s Eric Zhang imagines teaching a class on consulting. Still, some Best & Brightest are more concerned with the here-and-now than the years-to-come. Look no further than Seton Hall’s Anastasia Plank, who is focused on starting fast at Deloitte.
“I want to pass all four CPA exams before I begin my full-time employment in August.”
As you might imagine, many are looking to create something to call their own. “I’d like to open a chain of boutique hotels around the world,” writes Georgetown University’s Aaryn Taft, who’ll first ply her talents at JPMorgan Chase. “One of my hobbies is traveling. I like that boutique hotels are able to infuse the culture of the community they’re located in within the building. I want to curate the ideal hotel, where every single feature is five stars. One of the main problems in society is that things aren’t genuine. We stay in a hotel and everything is very commercial and there are no concrete identifiers of the culture you’re in. However, understanding people’s cultures is one of the main problems we have in today’s society. If we have the destination’s culture within the hotel itself, we can have a more well-rounded and culturally-aware society. “
At Southern Methodist University’s Cox School, Greta Felten’s dream is literally the foundation of business: “The top two items on my professional bucket list are to have someone invest in my ideas and to have the means to invest in someone else’s.”
A TRIBUTE TO LOVED ONES
Investment is the key. After all, the Best & Brightest have achieved so much because someone invested in them. For Yash Tanna, that person was Kenji Ma, a classmate whom he describes as a role model. Tanna met Ma as a freshman at Santa Clara University. Since then, he has pushed Tanna to do more and be more.
“Eventually, we both landed on the consulting track and started to help each other with case interview preps, networking, and exploring different opportunities,” Tanna writes. “He also inspired a passion to explore roles in business where I can align my focus on working with startups, growth, and investments with our shared personal values of providing positive impact in our communities. As a result, I’m interested in moving into startups or venture funds focused on creating technology to uplift communities or provide positive value to the world.”
Like many graduates, Brian Miller credits his parents for the “support and guidance” that led to his success. “My dad has a great quote that has stuck with me for 10+ years and has served as a guiding principle. “No one can want it more than you.” Ultimately, you must be motivated to achieve your goals and it’s not the responsibility of anyone else to make them happen. If you want something, go get it, and don’t wait for it to be handed to you. Take initiative and have the perseverance to keep chasing your goals.”
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION
That’s one piece of advice to live by. What other wisdom would the Class of 2022 share to business students following in their footsteps? Pitt’s Carolyn Zedalis warns her successors against comparing themselves to their peers. “Follow your own path, because what works for one person may not for others. For example, if one person has a summer internship between their freshman and sophomore year, but you don’t, that is okay! Comparing yourself to others will only cause unnecessary distress. There are other ways to build yourself in productive ways, such as involvement in student organizations, or attending professional development workshops and events. You will still succeed, as long as you continue to learn and grow in other areas!”
Emory’s Thomas Heagy urges a similar proactive approach. That means getting your hands dirty, no matter the role. And there is no better way to learn business, he says, than being humble and waiting tables. “Business is about relationships with people and juggling different tasks to help your team succeed. Restaurants provide perfect practice in this field, and you make good tips, too!”
Congratulations, Class of 2022! This is your time. Make the most of it…
Go to Pages 3-4 for 100 in-depth profiles of the 2022 Best & Brightest Business Majors