2017 Best & Brightest: Sylviane Alexion, University of Maryland (Smith)

Sylviane Alexion

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business

“I am inconspicuous but explosive, like a firecracker.  Surprising.  A force to be reckoned with.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have studied abroad six times through UMD.  My favorite study abroad cities: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Paris.

Hometown: Fulton, MD

High School: Reservoir High School, Fulton, Md.

Major: Accounting

Minor: Spanish Language, Business, and Cultures

Favorite Business Courses: Business Statistics (BMGT230), Intermediate Managerial Accounting (BMGT321), Business Law I (BMGT380), Innovo Scholars Consulting Classes (BMGT498L, BMGT398L)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Accounting and Business Association (ABA); Co-President
    • Teamed with the Smith Office of Career Services to host the ABA Career Fair attended by 200-plus students and 30-plus firms.
    • Organized weekly club meetings, executive board meetings, and special events during the semester.
    • Communicated regularly with 40-plus employers and 100-plus students about club activities.
  • University of Maryland Honey Bee Lab; Lab Assistant
    • Researched Tropilaelaps mites and drafted action plan for potential infestation in the United States.
    • Spokesperson for a campaign raising $5,000 to establish a Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly habitat on campus.
    • Assisted lab with analyzing samples of bee populations, preparing for specimen transportation, and entering data.

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • University of Maryland; College Park; Teaching Assistant (Classes: Principles of Accounting I, Principles of Accounting II, Business Statistics, Young Scholars Discovery Program)
    • Clarify fundamental concepts, provide explanations to in-class practice problems, and assist with homework.
    • Collaborate with fellow TA’s to standardize information across 15+ different sections.
    • Attend lectures, hold office hours, and lead interactive discussion sessions.
  • University of Maryland Innovo Scholars Program (I and II); College Park; Consultant
    • Consulted with UMD Education Abroad to improve application process and increase participation in study abroad.
    • Partnered with the Division of IT to develop recommendations for process improvement for the UMD advising community.
    • Collaborated with a Smith professor to redesign introductory business statistics course for 600-plus students.
  • Grant Thornton, LLP; Baltimore, MD; Tax Intern
    • Analyzed clients’ services, researched tax laws, and determined clients’ tax liabilities in different states.
    • Contacted state tax departments to update or resolve 100-plus notices for numerous clients.
    • Collaborated with four interns to produce a 2-minute video about the company culture.
  • SurgCenter of Greenbelt, LLC; Greenbelt, MD; Medical Records Quality Assurance Reviewer
    • Reviewed 100-plus records to ensure compliance with insurance billing requirements.
    • Managed organization and packaging of 1,000-plus medical records to prepare for office inspection.
  • Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps; Nicaragua; Consultant
    • Assisted five bamboo artisans with pricing 20-plus different products to achieve a 30 percent profit margin.
    • Helped seven indigenous artisan weavers market their products by creating and distributing a catalog.
    • Experienced cultural immersion living with Nicaraguan homestay families for eight weeks.

Describe your dream Job: My dream job is challenging, but fulfilling. It gives me numerous opportunities to acquire new skills and further develop existing talents. I feel appreciated by my clients and coworkers. I solve problems. My work and my personal life are integrated.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? I most enjoyed the ample resources provided to students.  The Smith School hosted resume workshops, networking nights and other events that enabled students to hone their interviewing skills.  I became more comfortable and confident in a competitive environment.  The Robert H. Smith School prepared me to graduate with a full-time offer in hand.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I realize that business requires more “people” skills than I initially thought. Even as an accounting major, people matter, not just numbers. Social interaction is required to advance in any business career.

Where would you like to work after graduation? I will be working as a Tax Associate at Grant Thornton, LLP in the Baltimore office. I had a great internship experience. I enjoyed the work I was doing, I liked my coworkers, and I loved the city. I can see myself at the company long-term, and I am very excited to return after graduation.

What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to gain exposure to all of the different fields of tax. I am also interested in trying my hand at consulting after exploring tax. In the future, I want to advance within the company. Throughout my entire career, I will also make traveling a priority.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? If I was giving advice to high school students about majoring in business at the University of Maryland, I would encourage them to apply with a declared business major.  It is easier to arrive at college already admitted to the business school than to change your major to business after starting college.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I took an accounting class in high school and I felt like I could do this for the rest of my life.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…out of luck.  On a more serious note, I would likely be a wedding planner.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…more about the different types of business attire. I would have saved myself many “I have nothing to wear” panic attacks if I came to college with more professional clothing.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? I had a big party to celebrate my high school graduation. We hosted approximately 100 of my family and friends. At the end of the event, my dad gave a speech about how proud he was of me. He is not very emotional, and he does not compliment me often. It was very special to hear him say those kind words in front of everyone, and I will never forget it.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my admission to the Omicron Delta Kappa – Sigma Circle (ODK). I repeatedly applied for admission starting sophomore year, and I finally got accepted in the fall semester of my senior year. My dad was a member of ODK, and it feels incredible to follow in his footsteps. We were the only legacy family at my induction ceremony.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? I would choose an owl to represent my professional brand.  Owls are wise and independent.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most like to thank my brother Will for my success. He has autism. While challenged academically, he tries his best.  He is repeatedly recognized for his work ethic and positive attitude. He loves unconditionally, forgives easily, and has always believed in me. Most importantly, he is a constant reminder that no matter what happens, being a good person is always possible.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I want people to say that I was a good leader and I was passionate about my work.  I want them to remember me as a reliable person, both in and out of school.

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice (6-hour version from 1995)

Favorite musical performer: I do not have a single, favorite musical performer.  I enjoy musical theatre, country music, and some pop music.

Favorite vacation spot: Ocean City, MD

What are your hobbies? Reading, exercising, playing board games and cards with my family and friends, watching movies, cooking with my dad

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

“Sylviane Alexion has been a tireless champion of student success initiatives at the Smith School and across the University of Maryland. In addition to being sought after by numerous faculty as a teaching assistant and TA mentor, Sylviane has engaged for three semesters in the Innovo Scholars consulting program, which works with and through students to drive innovation at the University. In her first project, Sylviane worked with instructors to revolutionize a challenging, required course by introducing active learning strategies and creating a live case with a local business. After their initial hesitancy, the instructors embraced Sylviane’s vision and student success and engagement improved.

In her second and third projects, Sylviane led a team that identified impediments to student success on campus, illuminated the issues, and recommended solutions to high-level university administrators. Thanks in large part to the work of Sylviane and Innovo team, the university has taken steps to revolutionize administrative and IT systems to help students succeed. Through it all, Sylviane has maintained the highest commitment to her academic pursuits and prioritizes her work with the community. As Sylviane transitions into her professional career, she leaves the Smith School and the University of Maryland more prepared to promote student success. We are better because of her.”

Sandra M. Loughlin, Ph.D.
Director of Learning and Innovative Instruction
Robert H. Smith School of Business



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