2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Alexis Boykin, University of Illinois (Gies)

Alexis Boykin 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Gies College of Business

“Passionate about traveling, grandmother-like activities, and the Mindy Project.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve held a snake, alligator, and a shark!

Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois

High School: Edwardsville Senior High School

Major: Marketing and Information Systems

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: BADM 351 – Social Media Strategy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Gies Scholar Program, served as a mentor for 3 students
  • James Scholar
  • President Awards Scholar
  • Illinois Student Admission Representative
  • Served as Co-President of the National Association of Black Accountants
  • Served as Networking Chair of the National Association of Black Accountants
  • Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity Active Member and Senior Mentor
  • Liaison Coach in the Gies Community Program
  • VP of Marketing for Suits and Pantsuits
  • Dean’s List Recipient (multiple semesters)
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow Career Prep Fellow

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • KPMG, Chicago, Embark Scholar Intern, Summer 2021
  • L’Oréal, New York City, Marketing Intern, Summer 2022

Where will you be working after graduation? Bose Corporation – Marketing Rotational Program – Boston, MA

Who is your favorite business professor? I have been fortunate to have learned from a variety of excellent professors. One of my favorite business professors is Professor Aravinda Garimella. She taught one of my favorite classes that focused on building foundational SQL skills. Professor Garimella was a fantastic storyteller and positive presence in class. Learning a new language can be tricky at times. However, Professor Garimella provided constant support and taught us how to apply our new skills to real-world situations which have benefited me greatly. I am immensely grateful for Professor Garimella for making a lasting impact on my undergraduate career.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The significance of effective leadership and teamwork to a team’s success. In nearly every business class I’ve taken, a group project is required. I’ve learned that building good working relationships is vital to performing successfully in semester projects.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Take the time to network with other students from a variety of backgrounds and majors. Learn what skills and opportunities each major or career path has to offer. Utilize the knowledge of upperclassmen and faculty members. Also, gain mentors who can help you outline your goals and what you want your future to look like. As a freshman, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Eventually, I went on a variety of coffee chats with many upperclassmen and quickly learned that was not the case. Take in outside perspectives and allow that to help shape your future.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? There is a strong interdisciplinary nature to business. A variety of other fields, such as psychology and sociology, play a significant role in business teams and overall organizational activities. It’s important to have a strong set of interpersonal skills in business and knowledge of these other disciplines can come in handy.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Looking back, I wish I would have utilized more resources that the business school offers. Gies has a variety of professional and academic learning opportunities such as Career Treks, the Margolis Market Information Lab, and the Magelli Office of Experiential Learning. These opportunities are very unique, and I know they would have complemented my learnings at Gies well.

What business leader do you admire most? One business leader who I admire is Jennifer Wong. She is the Chief Executive Officer at one of my favorite stores, Aritzia. She began as a sales associate at Aritzia in the 80’s and worked her way up to CEO of the company. During her tenure at Aritzia, she has assisted in spearheading many different environmental and women’s initiatives. I admire her willingness to continuously impact the communities she resides in along with creating innovative and fashionable items.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my experience serving as an Illinois Student Admissions Representative (I-STAR). In this position, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with prospective and admitted students about my experiences at Illinois. I became an I-STAR my freshman year of college and have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of students and parents about what makes Illinois so special. This experience has helped me immensely improve on various professional skills that have directly contributed to my success in organizations and throughout my internships. Seeing past prospective students as current Illinois students has been an extremely rewarding experience. Knowing that I had a small impact on their decision makes me very proud to serve as an I-STAR.

Which classmate do you most admire? As an incoming freshman, I wanted to ensure that I surrounded myself with likeminded and driven students. I met so many great peers that I’m sure will be life-long friends. One classmate I greatly admire is Mark Cruse. Mark has been an invaluable resource to myself and the black community within Gies College of Business. Mark has helped me navigate tough recruiting decisions, leadership position opportunities, and so much more. Mark’s diligence and dedication to his classwork and extracurricular activities has led him to a full-time position at Bain & Company. We both arrived on campus during our freshman year as members of the Early Arrival Program. Here, we had the opportunity to network with other underrepresented students and learn more about what four years at Illinois would look like. From that program, I knew Mark would undoubtedly be successful wherever he went and that he also would be an amazing friend.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I credit a lot of my success to my parents. They have both given me abundant support and advice throughout my college career. I truly appreciate their unconditional love and encouragement as I navigate life’s challenges. Thank you both for your support throughout my journey at Illinois!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to live and work abroad at some point in my career. I love traveling and would like to have the opportunity to combine that passion with my work. Another item on my professional bucket list is being an advocate for underrepresented students or communities. Whether it’s through my involvement in these communities or through formal mentorship programs, I would like to support and mentor students because mentorships like this have been vital to my success.

What are your hobbies? Reading, running (currently training for a half marathon with my roommates in April!), indoor cycling, card games, watching HBO shows, traveling, and watching sports and docuseries.

What made Alexis such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Alexis (Lexi) Boykin has been an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023 since she was a participant in the Illinois Gies College of Business Early Arrival Program (EAP) Program for high ability students of color. As a rising senior in high school, Lexi demonstrated the leadership and communication skills that confirmed she had the potential to be special student. Her interpersonal and critical thinking skills led her to a successful employment with the University Office of Admissions successfully recruiting prospective students and parents to campus. Lexi served as a mentor for the Gies College of Business Early Arrival Program, helping students make successful transitions from high school to the very competitive Gies College of Business. Additionally, Lexi has made an invaluable contribution to the college culture by being a leader with the Gies Community Group Program, which is a platform that allows students in the college to discuss often difficult topics in a safe respectful manner to improve college and or campus climate. She is a wonderful student and thoughtful classmate and I feel extremely comfortable stating that Lexi has made the Illinois Gies College of Business a better place.”

Jewell White
Assistant Dean, Access, and Multicultural Engagement
Gies College of Business


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