2018 Best & Brightest: Catherine Cummings, Syracuse University (Whitman)

Catherine Cummings

Syracuse University, Martin J. Whitman School of Management

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I’m a red hot chili pepper, because I’m short and spicy, and I love to add flavor anywhere I go.

Fun fact about yourself: I have a black belt in Tang Soo Do.

Hometown: Richboro, Pennsylvania

High School: Council Rock South

Major: Advertising, Retail Management, Economics

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: RMT 301: Retailing Fundamentals

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


  • Chancellor Scholar (Fall 2014 – Present)
  • I. Newhouse School of Public Communications – Dean’s List
  • Martin J. Whitman School of Management – Dean’s List
  • James Polney Award Finalist – one of ten finalists for the top Newhouse freshman
  • Beta Gamma Sigma – business programs honor society accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – top 10% in G.P.A
  • Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Honor Society – High Academic Achievement (Spring 2017 and Spring 2018)
  • Martin J. Whitman School of Management Class of 2018 Marshal
  • Whitman Scholar

Leadership and Extracurricular Activities

  • Delta Delta Delta – Pan-Hellenic Sorority (Spring 2015 – Present) – Vice President of Operations (Fall 2016 – Present) – Activities Chair (Fall 2015- Fall 2016) Body Image Coordinator (Spring 2015-Fall 2015) – Organizes and schedules all chapter events, serves as an intermediary between the chapter and Executive Office, creates and maintains chapter budget of $500,000 – Created the Body Image Committee at Delta Delta Delta (Syracuse Omicron Chapter), manages the Body Image 3D Program
  • Delta Sigma Pi – Professional Business Fraternity (Fall – Present) – Senior Vice President (Spring 2017 – Present) – Risk Management Chair – (Spring 2016) – Oversees recruiting and pledging ceremony, seeks candidates for honorary and faculty membership, assists the chapter president and assumes the president’s duties in his/her absence – Manages the risk aspects of all chapter activities; promotes health, wellness, and safety awareness
  • Beta Gamma Sigma– Business Honor Society (Fall 2016 – Present) – Secretary and Treasurer (Spring 2017- Present) – Maintains budget, manages events, all tutoring appointments, and social media content
  • Syracuse University Global Ambassador (Fall 2016 – Present) – Educates student body on study abroad programs and organizes Study Abroad Office events
  • Whitman Student Ambassador (Spring 2015 – Present) – Gives tours to prospective students, gives individualized programs on the Whitman/Newhouse Dual Program at Syracuse University
  • Economics Tutor (Fall 2015 – Present)
  • Rho Gamma (Spring 2017) – Facilitates Panhellenic formal recruitment, assists potential new members, and serves as a recruitment counselor
  • Citrus TV (Fall 2015- Spring 2016) – Sales & Advertising Manager – Responsible for fundraising and selling sponsorships for all twelve Citrus TV shows
  • Goon Squad (Fall 2015) – provided freshman move in assistance
  • Syracuse University Varsity Cheerleading (Fall 2014 – Spring 2015)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Buying Intern, Men’s Contemporary and Denim, Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, New York (Summer 2017) – Supported Buyer by managing over 2,500 SKUs, discovered trending styles to reallocate, developed new relations and increased company loyalty working as a liaison between departments, vendors, and customers

Social Media and Marketing Intern, VIAJIYU Florence, Italy (Summer 2016) – Responsible for all store advertising; worked with product development team, doubled Instagram followers

Extern, Ross Stores New York, New York (Summer 2016) – Shadowed Buyers, attended vendor meetings, and worked alongside Location Planners and Direct Imports Team

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Macy’s as an assistant buyer in New York City.

Who is your favorite professor? Amanda Nicholson has been one of the most influential professors during my time here at Syracuse. She is the reason why I discovered a passion for the retail and fashion industry. If it were not for her, I most certainly would not be where I am today. I owe all my successes and honors to her.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I love that the Whitman School promotes soft skills and learning outside the classroom, because fostering and building relationships is key to being successful in business. What made Syracuse stand out to me while looking at business schools is the IMPRESS program, where students can attend speakers, network, and learn proper business etiquette and practices. The skills I have learned from the IMPRESS program are invaluable, and I will forever thank Whitman for providing me such wonderful opportunities.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? To anyone who is interested in looking at business, go for it! Take risks and do not be afraid of failing. The one major thing I learned from my undergraduate business career at Syracuse is that it is normal to fall down, and you only fail if you do not get back up. Getting back up is the true victory, which is a lesson that I will forever remember. Like many of you, I was apprehensive about studying business, but it turned out to be the best decision of my life. I have learned so many skills that I would have never learned. Most importantly, I found myself. I have made so many friends and memories along the way that I will forever cherish. Surround yourself with people that will be there for you no matter what. Luckily for me, I was privileged to meet amazing people at Syracuse who have been there for me every step of the way.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…broadcast journalism. Like business, broadcasting requires you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. I love spontaneity and having a dynamic routine, which is why I think journalism would be up my alley.” 

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? From a very young age, my father saw that I expressed a strong interest in fashion and math. I remember when I was just 6-years-old, my dad called me into his office to help pick out shoes for my mom. Naturally my favorite pair was the most expensive, but my dad did a test to see if I could get all the pairs of shoes in price descending order. Naturally, I got all 32 pairs of shoes in price descending order, and that was the moment my father knew that I would one day become a buyer. When I started looking at colleges, Syracuse immediately came to mind, as it has strong programs in retail management and communications. Applying to the dual program in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I can utmost say that my father has always seen things in me that I have never seen myself, and I will forever be grateful for everything he has done for me.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? (and why?)Being named the class Marshal of the Whitman School is my proudest accomplishment. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be the selected speaker at graduation. To speak in front of my family, friends, and professors about my journey at Syracuse University is truly heartwarming and humbling.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? One thing I would like to change about the business school is implementing a class that focuses on public speaking, networking, social styles, and the interviewing processes. While the Whitman school has wonderful outside of the classroom opportunities, I firmly believe that every student can benefit on improving their soft skills. No matter how good you are at public speaking or meeting new people, there are always opportunities to improve.

Which classmate do you most admire? Justin Harris is enthusiastic, kind, and has an amazing work ethic. While he excels in the classroom, he never passes the opportunity to meet new people and expand his network. He is involved in a wide variety of organizations on campus, anyone who knows Justin can outmost say that he is dedicated and determined. I am very proud to say that Justin is one my close friends here at Syracuse, and know that we will keep in touch in the future.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank Amanda Nicholson for taking the time to invest in me and my future. She saw things in me that I did not see myself, and I will forever thank her for that. She was the one to tell me that I was destined to work in retail, and I ended up finding my passion. Now, I can confidently say that I am starting a career that I will forever love.

What would your theme song be? My theme song would be “So What” by P!nk. because I like to follow my own path and do not let others bring me down or get in my way of happiness.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? My top items on my bucket list are to start my own company and go bungee jumping in South Africa.

Favorite book: Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Favorite movie: Legally Blonde

Favorite vacation spot: Amalfi Coast, Italy

What are your hobbies? I highly enjoy reading, writing, trend hunting, dancing and working out.

What made Catherine such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“Catherine, known as Cat in the halls of Whitman, set the bar high for herself long before the days she entered our building. She is a dual student in Whitman and the Newhouse School of Public Communications – a program that requires a minimum of 150 credits and is still completed in four years.  On top of her dual program in retail and advertising, Cat has an economics major in the College of Arts & Sciences. She has been engaged in a professional business, business honors and a social fraternity, she is a Whitman and global ambassador, is heavily involved in community service, and has completed three internships in her field. Cat is a super-woman who not only turns every stone, she manages to do it all with the friendliest smile on her face.  She is going places and we are so happy that we joined her for part of the ride.”

Lindsay Quilty
Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs
Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University




Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.