2018 Best & Brightest: Cece Ukejianya, University of Maryland (Smith)

Cece Ukejianya

University of Maryland (Smith)

“I am a light bulb illuminating myself along with those around me.”

Fun fact about yourself: I had a video diary in high school, most people just had journals. For my last video I left myself a message to watch at the end of college, I cheated and watched it after sophomore year and it was good – like a time warp! Very excited to watch it again this summer.

Hometown: Baltimore County, Maryland

High School: Dulaney High School

Major: Accounting and Finance

Minor: No Minor

Favorite Business Course: BMGT380 Business Law

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: Dean’s Student Advisory Council (DSAC) Council Member; Phi Chi Theta Business Fraternity Sergeant of Arms; Accounting and Business Association President, VP of Membership; Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society Vice President, Events Coordinator; Smith Undergrad Student Association New Student Involvement Committee Chair; Women’s Empowerment Institute Founder and CEO; Honors Ambassador Student Coordinator; Spirit of Maryland Award Recipient; Philip Merrill Scholar Award Recipient.

Where have you interned during your college career?

PricewaterHouse Coopers, Baltimore, Internal Revenue Services’ Intern

Deloitte, McLean, Rotational Intern

Deloitte, Los Angeles, Audit Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for Deloitte in their Los Angeles office as a first year audit staff.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Progyan Basu (accounting and information assurance) because I can see the joy teaching brings him in everything he does. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the bureaucratic side of academics within a business school. Often, change receives push back from professors because it is difficult to implement. However, “Basu” has always been willing to continuously better his classes regardless of the difficulty if may bring him. This has allowed his class to seamlessly integrate new teaching techniques to keep his classes modern and engaging.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? There is always more to learn so never stop inquiring.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Find what you are passionate about and match it with what you’re good at. Business is a part of everything we do. So, for example, if you are great at graphic design and choose to major in marketing but your passionate about non-profits, you can create graphic art for non-profits.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…film. I love the world of production and entertainment. My absolute favorite part of this world is watching a story come to life whether in a film based on a book or a music video based on the song. This is why I’m moving to LA to focus my skills in the entertainment industry.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I didn’t realize how broad the post-graduate opportunities for business students could be. There is so much you can do with business, so many directions you could go in. So when I chose business, it was refreshing to know I wasn’t limited in my potential career options.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom connected the dots between my interests as a kid. At the time, I was interested in fashion but I didn’t quite like modeling or piecing outfits together. However, I was good at numbers. So she suggested I think about going into the business side of fashion which to me meant marketing. It wasn’t until the latter half of high school that I discovered accounting.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Last semester, I was awarded the Spirit of Maryland Award. This was my proudest moment because to me it signified that I made a significant impact on my campus. To me, positive meaningful impact is the most valuable outcome of any tasks. However, one’s perceived impact can be different from their actual impact and I worried I had perceived a level of impact that was higher than my actual meaningful impact on the campus and the students within it. Thus, the Spirit of Maryland Award served as a needed validation that I do impact others in a positive and significant way.

Which classmate do you most admire? Chineme Obiefune is a fellow classmate and dear friend of mine. I admire his ability to lead fearlessly and passionately. One of the hardest aspects of being a leader is doing the right thing even if its unpopular and mobilizing your followers in that direction. As a people pleaser, that is my biggest weakest. Seeing Chineme do it so effortlessly is admirable.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would thank Jesus first and foremost but my mom is a close second. She worked at two hospitals as an emergency pediatric physician just to send my siblings and I to private school. As a single parent and sole provider, she had to make personal sacrifices so that my siblings and I did not have to. I always admired how selfless she was. Because of this, I started my first job at 16 and applied for my first credit card at 18. It taught me the value of money and how to properly spend it. I also learned how to balance many things at once. All these skills and opportunities would not have been possible without my mom, so she is who I am the most thankful too.

What would your theme song be? Living out Loud” by Brooke Candy because the song is about living your life the only way you can which is boldly and unapologetically. Although I cannot say that I do that every day all day, it is a goal of mine. That is what makes it my theme song.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Jump out of a plane, visit a natural wonder of the world

Favorite book: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Favorite movie: Hidden Figures

Favorite vacation spot: Cape Town, South Africa

What are your hobbies? Making video montages of trips, dancing (terribly), and watching television.

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

“Unbeknownst to many, CeCe joined the Smith family in the summer before her senior year of high school in our inaugural LEAD summer high school business program. Instantly, we knew she would be an unstoppable force in the Smith school and she has proven us right. From QUEST Honors program, President of the Accounting and Business Association, longstanding member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, active member in the Smith Undergraduate Student Association, and leader in ODK, Phi Chi Theta Business Fraternity and Theta Nu chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, to name just a few.

These accolades pale in comparison to her big heart, infectious laugh and genuine spirit.  CeCe embodies the extraordinary character, unwavering determination and hard work ethic found in only our top Smith students.

While many students entering their final year are busy interviewing for jobs and participating less in the campus community, CeCe has been tenaciously working towards the creation of Smith’s newest organization, Women’s Empowerment Institute. Intertwining her passions to see women thrive in the business world, it is clear CeCe has left an indelible legacy for future Smith students as she embarks on her next adventure on the west coast.”

Victor C. Mullins, PhD
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Program


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