2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Maria Klostrakis, University of San Diego (Knauss)

Maria Klostrakis

University of San Diego, Knauss School of Business

“Energetic Greek girl who loves to endlessly travel and learn new things.”

Fun fact about yourself: I completed the 10.5-mile Samaria Gorge hike on the island of Crete over the summer.

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

High School: Mira Loma High School

Major: Marketing & International Business

Minor: Spanish

Favorite Business Course: Women in Management (MGMT 306)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Leadership Roles:

Student International Business Council; President (2022-2023)

Student International Business Council; Project Leader (2021-2022)

Knauss School of Business; Peer Advisor (2021-2023)

University of San Diego; Spanish Tutor (2022)

X-culture; Project Leader (2022)


University of San Diego; Dean’s List (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)

University of San Diego; First Honors (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)

Top 5% of X-Culture Students (2022)

Community Work:

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (2013-2019)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Social Media Marketing Intern- Sweat Circuit

At Sweat Circuit, my role as an intern was unique due to my consulting background. I was able to use my marketing skills to create content and help promote the franchise while also supporting my efforts with data analysis. I created a plan and scope of work to achieve goals to show measurable growth with different techniques.

Consultant Project Team Member- Don Javier Tequila (virtual)

This experience was focused on collaborating with a group of students to assist in establishing a social media marketing strategy for Casa Don Javier and researching possible distributors to provide insight to the current market for the company.

Consultant Project Leader- Xecue Winery, Mexico

I led a group of 10 students to complete a consulting project for a woman-led winery in the Valle de Guadalupe region of Mexico. During the project, I researched a variety of topics including industry best practices, social media strategies, and consumer segment insights. Additionally, I designed and distributed bilingual consumer insights surveys and analyzed 100+ responses to inform marketing strategy regarding the consumer segment.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be starting a full-time internship at Q5 Consulting in New York City.

Who is your favorite business professor? At the University of San Diego, each and every business professor had a meaningful impact on my education by presenting an intellectually intriguing curriculum. Dr. Eileen Daspro was one of the most influential and impactful professors. I have taken several international business courses with Dr. Daspro. This includes Introduction to International Business, where she was so passionate about the topics she was teaching and inspired me to pursue a career in international business. Throughout the past four years, we were able to create one of the most meaningful relationships inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Daspro is the advisor of the Student International Business Council and consistently makes time for students to talk about career opportunities and how to get involved with the major. The curriculum design of her classes gave me invaluable, real-world experience with companies. I am so appreciative to have had Dr. Daspro as a professor and mentor during my time at USD.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I gained from studying business is to take advantage of your opportunities and put yourself out there. Sometimes, as a business student, it can be overwhelming deciding pathways since options are endless. However, the best way to battle that is to just start putting yourself into different opportunities. A professor at USD told me the worst thing that happens is someone tells you no. With this mantra, I went to as many events and student organizations as I could to find the right match for me. Networking is a huge part of business and it requires confidence. Studying business taught me to be confident in my accomplishments during networking events, which ultimately opened up many more opportunities for me.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice to a future business student is to explore all of your interests. Most students think that the only way to get involved in your major or interests is through classes. However, the presence of student organizations and professionals that come to speak on campus are very helpful. When I was a freshman at USD, I was selected to participate in an international dual degree program, but that unfortunately didn’t happen due to COVID. At that point, I had to explore my interests to change my plan. My exploration included club meetings, talking to faculty, and going to hear business professionals on campus. By attending these events, I learned a unique thing about business is the overlap of topics between each major. This allowed me to find my passions in business and continue to be inspired.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? There is not a lot I would do differently in business school. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at USD and the Knauss School of Business, and wish I could do it again. I would love to have had more time to get even more involved in various student organizations.

What business leader do you admire most? During my Fundamentals of Marketing class, part of the curriculum was to listen to the How I Built This Podcast on NPR. Throughout the semester. I listened to multiple entrepreneurs who started the most popular companies we know about today. The most inspiring were the founders of SoulCycle, Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler. They were able to use a blue market strategy and open an entirely new segment of the market for fitness. In today’s society, most people could not imagine fitness without studios such as SoulCycle. It is aspirational to create something of my own with my passion despite there not being an established segment.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? A personal and academic achievement that I am most proud of is graduating college as a first-generation college student. My family immigrated from Greece with hopes that my siblings and I would be able to have more opportunities. I am so grateful to my family for everything they have given me to help me to this moment. I am proud of this achievement because I can now be an example for my siblings and guide them through their own college experiences. It can be difficult not knowing the opportunities available and I am very excited to have gained the knowledge to help others.

Which classmate do you most admire? A classmate I admire is Megan Soong who is a sophomore at the University of San Diego. As a leader, one of my personal goals is to continuously inspire the people around me. Megan was a freshman working on my team for Xecue Winery Consulting Project. As a freshman, Megan showed continuous drive and determination to learn as much as she could. During her freshman year, she founded the Pilates Club, which quickly grew to be the largest student organization on campus. She is always looking for new opportunities to grow her skillset and further her opportunities. I am impressed by how much she puts herself out there and hope she continues to be driven and kind.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Coming from a big family it is difficult to thank solely one person for my success. However, I would like to thank my mom and grandma for always pushing me in school. My mom and I are best friends because of how much she believes in me and always tries to motivate me towards success. She inspires me a lot in my daily life with the way she presents herself in professional settings. Most people begin the college search process in high school, but my mom encouraged me to be goal-oriented. In the 7th grade, she would sit with me and let me plan about what I wanted my life to be. While the dreams have changed over the years, she always takes the time to sit with me and listen to my plans. Without my mom, I would not be the driven, outgoing and thoughtful person I am today. My grandma is also a person I want to thank for my success. In Greek culture, your grandma is your yiayia. My yiayia always told me, “There is no one better than you.” When I was younger, she would always challenge me with math books and reading books. She never doubted my abilities and my intelligence which inspired my confidence. As a little girl, I always felt supported by these two women and they mean the world to me.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Get my law degree
  2. Own a consulting company with a focus on small businesses to help create an impact on my local community

What are your hobbies? My hobbies include painting, reading books at the beach, and cycling. I began painting during COVID as a way to keep my mind focused and started a small business of selling paintings. I have loved reading since I was one year old. My mother used to read me books every day. When I was in elementary school, I would take my book and sit on the playground to read. Lastly, cycling is one of my latest fitness hobbies that allows me to clear my head after or before a busy day.

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

“Maria Klostrakis is a first-generation student of Greek heritage. Academically, she holds a 4.74 GPA and has continuously been on the Dean’s list with first honors. She was recently included among the University of San Diego’s Alcala 100, a university recognition for the top 100 graduating seniors. On campus, she is involved in many activities.

She serves as a Peer Academic Advisor at the Knauss School of Business helping mentor undergraduate students and connect them to resources. Since her freshman year, Maria has been highly involved in the Student International Business Council. During her time with the student organization, she has worked on multiple consulting projects for international companies including a Greek olive oil company owned by a USD alum, Don Javier Tequila Company in Jalisco, Mexico, and Xecue Winery in Ensenada, Mexico. In 2022, Maria was elected president of the SIBC, one of the largest academic organization on campus.

Academically ambitious, she is also a Spanish tutor for the language department and finds it intrinsically rewarding to help other students master the language.

Maria has accomplished all of this while also working part-time as a Senior Brand Ambassador at American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) for over two years. In this role, she manages 25-30 employees and created metrics to achieve the sales goals set for the stores that she supported. Additionally, Maria currently holds a social media marketing internship position at Sweat Circuit, a circuit training gym. This role has allowed Maria to apply her academic learning to immediately benefit her employer through marketing campaigns designed to benefit this local community franchise. Maria’s career aspirations have been focused on working within the consulting industry to help businesses continuously improve and develop in ways that align with their organization’s vision. Maria just accepted a full-time internship with Q5 Consulting New York Office beginning this summer. She is excited for this next challenge as management consulting will allow her to use her creative side and problem-solving skills to find unique solutions to the global issues faced by companies today.”

Graciela Williamson
Senior Director of Student Professional Development


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