2019 Best & Brightest: Alexandria Graham, Ohio State (Fisher)

Alexandria Graham   

Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

“A sushi enthusiast, Ohio State Buckeye fanatic, secret computer nerd, and ambitious perfectionist.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve had the same pencil since 6th grade, and I’ve taken the ACT, every high school exam, and every college exam with that pencil.

Hometown: Perrysburg, Ohio

High School: Notre Dame Academy

Major: Management Information Systems

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Legal Environment of Business

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • President, Information Systems Association
  • Vice President of Administration, Information Systems Association
  • Vice President of Operations, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity
  • Fisher Ambassador
  • Fisher Peer Advisor
  • Computer Science & Engineering Teaching Assistant
  • Fisher Pace Setter Recipient

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • PolyOne Corporation, Cleveland, OH, IT Analyst
  • Cisco Systems, San Jose, CA, IT Analyst
  • Cisco Systems, San Jose, CA, Software Engineer

Where will you be working after graduation? Workday, Pleasanton, CA, Associate Product Manager

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Stephen Gomori has played an integral role in my academic career at Ohio State. Upon entering his class, I was unsure if Information Systems was the correct path for me. However, by the end of his course, he confirmed my interest and ignited a passion for coding. Professor Gomori encourages hands-on learning in such a way that he challenges students to analyze and build solutions that go beyond requirements.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Ohio State and Fisher have created an environment that seamlessly blends individuality and community. At a university of this scale, I’ve come to appreciate how each students’ experience is unique. I feel empowered to explore my passions, forge my own path, and have a platform to share those with my peers. Fisher’s culture plays a fundamental role in doing just that. The emphasis on giving back is so uniquely intertwined in every aspect of the student experience. From peers, faculty, administration, and alumni, Fisher cultivates an environment that has shaped me into the proud person I am today: a person rooted in companionship.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Be bold. Opportunities are like butterflies; they do not come to you, you have to chase them. Whether it’s frequenting a professor’s office hours in a difficult course, or cold emailing on LinkedIn, it’s important to be confident in what makes you extraordinary as an individual, as a student and as a young professional.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Find a mentor and cultivate a relationship with them. Your career is not linear; it is a winding path paved with both adversity and success. Seek insight from mentors who have paved a path before you; learn from their mistakes, heed their advice, and apply their approach to your own journey.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The majority of people expect business majors to be straight-edged and left-brained. However, the creativity and open-mindedness exemplified by my peers have proved this common belief to be inaccurate. While data-driven decisions are critical in the business environment, the best solutions are formulated when you combine ingenuity and statistics.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Food science. As a self-declared foodie, I am constantly looking forward to my next food-related journey. Similar to business, a major in food science would allow me to combine innovation and ingenuity with the technical, chemical side of the industry.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While I grew up mesmerized by computers, I was not exactly enchanted by the idea of studying computer science. I always had an inkling to study business, but I was unclear as to which specialization was right for me. In my senior year of high school, I shadowed my uncle, who worked in IT security. I was fascinated by the connection between business and technology. When my uncle illuminated the field of information systems, I was certain this was the path that would allow me to combine my business and technological interests.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of?  Management Information Systems is often a smaller major, and a majority of students looking to study business are not aware of the field. Once I began taking my courses, I noticed I was one out of a handful of females in class. After noticing these disconnects, I set out to bridge the gap. I developed an annual event in which local high school students learn about management information systems from academic and professional perspectives. It’s been rewarding to play a role in educating students, particularly women, and to help ensure future generations have equal opportunities in the field.

Which classmate do you most admire? Justyn Bostic and I first met our fifth week of freshman year. We began our college careers in the same Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity pledge class. Throughout the past three years, Justyn has exemplified the definition of grit. He built a podcast, Creating The Game, which focuses on “embracing the truth within our lives in order to strategize and conquer a beautiful life.”

Compassionate, tenacious and purpose-driven, he challenges those around him to live intentionally. As I serve alongside him on the executive board of Alpha Kappa Psi, he has redefined my understanding and appreciation for thought leadership. His ability to challenge the status quo and the way in which he navigates adversity has been an inspiration in my life.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? During my sophomore year, I connected with Jeff Schumann, a Fisher alumnus and successful founder of a Columbus based start-up. Since then, he has played an integral role in my professional development. I am thankful for the industry insights and personal career stories he has shared; they’ve been instrumental in helping me navigate my career. He has inspired me to push boundaries, encouraged my ambitions, and taught me the meaning of giving back.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Sit courtside with my dad at an NCAA Final Four basketball game.
  2. Backpack through southeast Asia.

What are your hobbies? Exploring new restaurants; reading Malcom Gladwell; listening to podcasts; skiing

What made Ali such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Ali has defined her time at Ohio State by making and taking advantage of opportunities to excel academically, to challenge her perceptions, to meet new people, go new places and to explore new ideas.

Ali is one of only 25 female students graduating in Information Systems (out of over 1,600 graduating business students). She has completed two software-engineering internships at Cisco and has a full-time, post-graduation job offer at a hot tech company. This alone makes Ali unique in her academic and professional pursuits.

She has been a go-getter at Fisher, serving as president of a student organization, an executive board member of the business fraternity, a college ambassador and peer advisor — all while maintaining the requisite high GPA. The person that Ali has developed into from these experiences is impressive. The frenzied freshman has recognized her passions, and that success isn’t achieved by scheduling every hour of the day. Ali’s success comes from strong commitments and her personal desire to do her best, and by recognizing that peace and happiness is a meaningful metric as well.

It has been this personal growth, the development of quiet leadership skills, the desire to give back to the college in meaningful ways and opening herself to outside perspectives that makes her special. With a smile and her trademark dedication to excellence, Ali will not only live a life of great success, but a life of great substance as well.”

Jill O’Neill, M.A.
Director, Operations
Undergraduate Programs
Fisher College of Business

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