2017 Best & Brightest: Ronald Lewis, University of Illinois

Ronald Lewis

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign   

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Fun fact about yourself: When at school I usually drink a quart of milk a day at the least.

Hometown: Westchester, IL

High School: St. Joseph High School

Major: Finance

Minor: Technology and Management

Favorite Business Courses: Finance 435: Personal Wealth Management, Finance 221: Intro to Corporate Finance, BADM 320: Principles of Marketing

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Illinois Student Senate/Government – Student Body President (March 2016-Present)
  • Black Greek Council – President (November 2015-March 2016)
  • Business 101 – Section Leader (August 2015 – December 2016)
  • College of Business – Admissions Team Worker (January 2014- Present)
  • Business Council – Member (August 2013 – Present)
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (November 2014 – Present)
  • Chancellor’s Transition Committee (October 2016 – Present)
  • Emerging Leader Award 2015
  • Petullo Scholar (August 2015 – Present)
  • Cook County Scholarship (August 2013-Present)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, Chicago, Illinois, Start Intern
  • University of Illinois Student Affairs, Champaign Illinois, Research Assistant for Vice Chancellor

Describe your dream Job: My dream job doesn’t have a specific position or title. Wherever I go, I want to be able to inspire others to believe in themselves and in the future when society says that it is not possible.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor thus far in college has been Sterling Raskie. The way he taught Personal Wealth Management, you can sense his passion for what he taught everyday as well as a genuine love for helping his students.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Michael Harden and Jeff Badu. I admire these two gentlemen because of their diligence, confidence, and intelligence in following their hearts and creating their own companies. I’ve been able to see first-hand the work that they put in day in and day out to have their dreams turn into a reality in having companies that will be running the world one day.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? There have been so many genuine relationships that I have been able to build from my undergraduate experience in business and I genuinely wouldn’t trade that from the world.

Where would you like to work after graduation? I will be working for Teach for America in St. Louis after graduation as a Middle School Math Teacher

What are your long-term professional goals? I have interests in consulting, banking, and starting a non-for-profit someday. However, wherever I go, I want to be in a position help others and motivate people to believe in themselves. Whatever professional position I get, it is important to me to be able to help others reach their full potential.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I realized the influence and impact that it has on shaping the world that we live in today.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…a psychology major. I’ve always had an interest in learning about social psychology and learning how people interact with one another.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…that it is easy to look at a mentor or leader and get caught up in their accomplishments. Everyone has their own problems whether you’re on the top of the food chain or at the bottom. Understanding the importance of creating your own legacy is something that I wish I had learned sooner.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? One moment that stands out to me is when I was in second grade and my father put me on his shoulders and we just talked on the way home. I’ll always remember this moment because, even now, I can remember the excitement and love that I felt at that point in my life. At that point, I didn’t even know what love was, but the happiness I felt through every conversation with my dad is a type of happiness that is hard to beat.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Becoming the Student Body President of the University of Illinois was an achievement that meant the world to me. This was so important to me because it was a goal that I made for myself freshman year after working for the past Student Body President as an intern. I saw the impact that he had on my life and so many others, and that impact is something that I wanted to have. So I made a promise to myself that no matter what I do in college, it should be about helping others, and being a servant to the community. It is that mindset that prepared me the most to become the President of the University.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? I would choose an eel to represent my personal brand. When I think of an eel, I think of an animal that resides on the top of the food chain in his habitat. Although the eel is not always the animal you here as one of the most vibrant and recognizable, he understands his role and his power within coastal plains and small rivers. So as an eel, I want my brand to include not always working hard to be recognized, but working hard because I know my worth and the impact that I want to have in my community.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? There are so many people I need to thank but if I had to choose one person to thank most for my success it would be my mentor Michael Harden. While others around me wanted to become successful, Mr. Harden helped me understand the importance of redefining what success meant in my life. I initially thought that it would be recognition, certain positions, or my first full-time job I. But he alone showed me the significance of what it meant to have a purpose, to work by serving others, and how being happy in life is just as important as anything else. Mr. Harden quit his corporate job in the early 2000’s to create his own catering business because that is what he was passionate about and that’s what made him happy. Several years later, his catering business is the best in the Urbana-Champaign area. If I become half of the man that my mentor currently is, I will consider myself to be successful.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? No matter what I had going on throughout my daily schedule, I always tried to pay it forward and help others to achieve more than I could have ever achieved while in undergrad. I don’t want my legacy to be solely on what I’ve been able to accomplish, but rather what I’ve helped others to achieve.

Favorite book: The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)

Favorite movie: Inception or Limitless

Favorite musical performer: Chance the Rapper

Favorite vacation spot: Washington D.C.

What are your hobbies? Playing Basketball, Public Speaking, Mentoring, Working Out

What made Ron Lewis such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

“For good reason, Ron is clearly a leader in the College of Business and on campus as the current Illinois Student Government President. He demonstrates a wonderful warmth and welcoming to others that invites collaboration.  As a student leader very involved in the College and his extra-curricular activities, Ron demonstrates a passion for service and a commitment to his peers and the organization.  As a Section Leader for our Business 101 course, Ron effectively mentors and coaches our freshmen; he is seen as the “go to person” by many. I look forward to seeing Ron’s impact on the world and his profession after he graduates.”

Jim Dahl, Ph.D.
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Affairs
College of Business, University of Illinois


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