2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Erica Weiss, Bucknell University (Freeman)

Erica Weiss

Bucknell University, Freeman College of Management

“Design thinker, trailblazer. Full-time pancreas, part-time plant mom. Licensed boat driver, confirmed cat lover.”

Fun fact about yourself: This past year I rescued a cat off the streets of Lewisburg, nursed him back to health, and now am officially a cat mom.

Hometown: Great Falls, VA

High School: Langley High School, McLean, VA

Major: Markets, Innovation & Design with a concentration in Digital Composition and Design Thinking

Minor: Jewish Studies

Favorite Business Course: Technological Dystopia with Professor Eric Santanen. Most classes attempt to prepare you for life in the professional world, but this class challenged us to truly investigate morality (our own and that of others). That way, we are not simply prepared to conform in the “real world”, but equipped to engage with diverse perspectives in order to form our own, informed set of values. Professor Santanen encouraged me to see the world through a whole new lens, consider alternative viewpoints, and to integrate questions of morality into my personal conception of technology and its role in our lives.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

* Bucknell Bed n’ Breakfast Affinity House (Founder/President): Created a living, learning community founded on a shared love for cooking and baking. Spearheaded more than 20 events over two years, making BnB the most active affinity community on campus.

* Hillel at Bucknell University (Jewish Learning Fellow): Participated in weekly Jewish learning and ethics classes where fellows discussed topics ranging from identity to tradition and everything in between.

* Delta Gamma Women’s Fraternity (Vice President of Foundation): Served as Delta Gamma Epsilon Beta Chapter Vice President of Foundation where I directed our Anchor Slam fundraising event, raising over $10,000 for the DG Foundation and Service for Sight. Coordinated initiatives for over 700 hours of service with chapter peers. Recipient of the Delta Gamma Suz Lindsley Stiles Honorary Merit Scholarship.

* Design Thinking Leadership Pre-Orientation (Leader/Director): Organized and coordinated Bucknell’s DTL pre-orientation program, where students get to learn the steps of the design thinking process, apply them to real-world problems, and connect with other first-year students while immersing themselves in the Lewisburg community.

* Bucknell College Diabetes Network (Founder/President): Started Bucknell’s chapter of the College Diabetes Network, providing a supportive community for diabetics to educate, advocate, and create awareness for diabetes on campus. Created a training program for Bucknell’s Department of Public Safety on emergency care for diabetics which has since also been used to train officers of the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department.

* Bucknell Student Government (Senate/President): Represented the Class of 2023 in Bucknell’s Student Congress and Executive Committee. Advocated for and provided Bucknellians with a voice and platform to make a difference on campus.

* Academic Achievements: Member of Beta Gamma Sigma National Business Honor Society. Member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society for students in the top 20% of their class. Teaching Assistant for MIDE201: Marketing. Seven consecutive semesters on both the Bucknell University Dean’s List and Freeman College of Management Dean’s List.

Where have you interned during your college career?

* Communications Intern at THuS Marketing and Branding Services (Reston, VA): Represented THuS Marketing in the communications and social media realm, focusing on project management support, content development and management, social media strategy, and implementation.

* Marketing and Communications Intern at BBYO Inc.  (Washington, DC): Managed email marketing campaign development utilizing Kentico. Designed website landing pages and daily blog posts. Tracked marketing campaign effectiveness and ran analytics. Organized communications for international groups.

* Marketing and Design Intern at Hillel International (Washington, DC): Created and curated daily social media content for Hillel:Birthright Israel’s social media channels utilizing Canva and Facebook Creator Studio. Developed email marketing language, header images, and templates weekly. Designed website landing pages and donation forms. Engaged individually with 1,361 lapsed donors as part of Hillel’s end of fiscal year campaign. Texted 1,000 incoming college students as part of a peer-to-peer recruitment texting campaign. Collaborated with 1,000 external organizations and interdisciplinary teams across Hillel.

* Business Analytics and Scrum Master Intern Ventera Corp. (Reston, VA): Served as project Scrum Master. Developed a decision-making web app by facilitating five two-week sprints utilizing Agile methodologies. Executed stand-ups, demos, retrospectives, and sprint ceremonies to foster continuous improvement. Designed web app wireframes/user blueprints and orchestrated design thinking workshops. Shadowed Senior Scrum Master and UX Researcher roles for the federal SNAP program.

Where will you be working after graduation? Analytics Services Associate at Veeva Systems (New York City)

What company do you admire most? The company I most admire is Welsch Aviation. While Welsch is known for being the first executive jet aircraft broker, what makes them even more special is their commitment to integrity and relationships with their clients. From their very own president, my dad, I have learned that hard work is the key to success and that honesty is the foundation of any outstanding business. Their unwavering reputation, founded on quality of character, is one that they should be proud of, as I know I am.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Annetta Grant. While I was only lucky enough to have Professor Grant for one course, she has provided me with an overwhelming amount of guidance and support throughout my time here at Bucknell. Professor Grant has years of industry experience and endless wisdom that she generously shares with her students, and most importantly, creates a classroom environment where students are encouraged to learn, grow, and play. Professor Grant has proven to be a mentor both inside the classroom and out, and I am extraordinarily grateful for her unwavering support and guidance throughout my college career.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The Freeman College of Management at Bucknell does more than offer us a business education. We are lucky to get to experience a holistic approach to the world of management, with the steadfast support of our professors and advisers. What I have enjoyed most about the Freeman College of Management has been the opportunity to explore so many different aspects of the design and management world alongside some of the best professors, mentors, and peers I’ve ever met. I have loved embracing the world of play with former professor Collin Smith; engaging in thought-provoking and spirited dialogue with Professor Eric Santanen; exploring the academic and professional world with Professor Annetta Grant; exchanging continuous catch-up chats through the years with Professor Curtis Nicholls; and growing alongside my peers these past four years.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Follow your passion.  At the end of the day, what matters most is doing something you love. You can often shape a business education to apply to anything that you care about, so allowing yourself the opportunity to pursue your passions is the best choice you can make for yourself.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Going into college, I thought that I would learn a specific skill or skills to apply in business situations. Instead, I have learned how to form habits such as embracing ambiguity and empathy, failing forward, finding creative confidence, and ultimately forming a toolbox with which I can tackle any problem. Majoring in business isn’t about one specific thing you learn, but learning how to solve problems, which is ultimately much more applicable and sustainable in the real world.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at the age of 10. Since then, I have had a long journey learning to accept and eventually growing to embrace my disease. A few years ago, inspired by my favorite diabetes blogger, Kerri Sparling, from whom I realized the power of sharing your story, I started my own diabetes Instagram blog, @flexthedex. Through this platform, I have developed content to share the highs and lows of diabetes, fostered an online community, spread awareness, advocated for people with diabetes, and encouraged my fellow T1Ds to be confident with their medical devices.

Which classmate do you most admire? While it is hard to pick just one, the classmate I most admire is Gracyn Shaw. I met her when she began her first year at Bucknell as a participant in my pre-orientation program, Design Thinking Leadership. Gracyn is one of the only women in the Bison Battalion ROTC program, a leader in her sorority, the vice president of my affinity house (Bed n’ Breakfast), an honor society member, and so much more. She did this all while triple majoring, focusing her studies on International Relations, Russian, and Classics. I am proud to be her friend, and am grateful for the kindness and support she has provided me while simultaneously fighting a seemingly endless battle to shatter the glass ceiling. While she may be two years my junior, I look to Gracyn as a role model of what women can accomplish when they combine passion and perseverance.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Technically I am only supposed to pick one person to thank for my success, as I learned from my favorite childhood book, Library Lion. Sometimes, there is a good reason for breaking the rules. In this case, the three members of my family are those such reasons, each playing an unparalleled role in shaping the person I am today. This has beena culmination of the unconditional love I have received from them over the past two decades.

Mom, thank you for being the most unwavering pillar of support, showing me the meaning of love and loyalty, and setting the example for the kind of strong and empathetic woman I hope to be one day. Dad, thank you for teaching me to blaze my own trail, to never lift, but that I can take it one brick at a time. You also taught me to be proud of who I am, because sometimes the best person to be is the one standing tall on a mountain waving their own flag. Spencer, I have you to thank for inspiring me to be the Robin to your Robin. You were not only my partner in crime, but the person in whose footsteps I strive to follow, my favorite person to explore the world with, and my built-in best friend along the way. My parents have always taught me to try my best, but also reminded me that my best will always be good enough. From you all, I have learned to both push myself and to give myself grace. To the moon and back, I am eternally grateful for my family. I would not be who I am today, nor where I am today without them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? One of my biggest goals, in both life and the professional world, is to help people with diabetes and other autoimmune conditions. My other professional bucket list item is to give back to the institutions that have helped me grow into who I am today.

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include going for walks with my mom, boating with my dad, exploring new cities with my brother, reading an alarming number of books (sometimes while walking), spoiling my cats, and spending time in the sun with my friends.

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

“To say Erica Weiss is a standout student is an understatement. Erica is a student with many talents — she excels academically. She is a natural leader who easily collaborates and creates community, and with her contagious energy and she inspires those around her to engage both inside and outside the classroom. In one notable instance, Erica spearheaded a learning community focused on a shared love of food. This is one of many ways Erica creates a space where others can feel safe, respected and encouraged to pursue their interests. Another facet to Erica is that managing diabetes is a big part of her identity. While this may get some students down, Erica rises to the challenge with gusto and determination, effecting positive change along the way. In the classroom, she openly shares how diabetes shapes her every day, which is indicative of the courage with which she approaches the world. Her openness fosters empathy, and through her openness, Erica builds a sense of community with those around her. Erica has the creative skills to dream new ideas and the confidence and determination to execute on designing whatever she sets her mind to. She implements change when needed — in this instance, by arranging, creating and offering training sessions to campus security on the signs of diabetes so they can in turn help students in distress. Overall, Erica brightens the lives of those around her. She is not one to sit and watch the world go by, but is a leader, a collaborator and an empathetic influence wherever she goes.”

Annetta Grant
Assistant Professor, Markets, Innovation & Design


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