2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Veda Seay, University of Tennessee (Haslam)

Veda Seay

University of Tennessee, Haslam College of Business

“I am a team-oriented yet independent, passionate, adventurous, and driven analytics/statistics nerd.”

Fun fact about yourself: My favorite ice cream/gelato flavor is spumoni.

Hometown: Oak Ridge, TN

High School: Oak Ridge High School

Major: Triple major in Business Analytics, Mathematics, and Statistics

Minor: Concentrations in the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program and Applied Math

Favorite Business Course: BAS 471 – Statistical Methods

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Business Analytics Society (20/21 and 21/22 Member, 22/23 President, 23/24 Copresident)
  • Haslam Ambassador (21/22 and 22/23 Ambassador, 23/24 Lead Ambassador)
  • Project Inspire (Spring 23 Host, 22/23 and 23/24 Member)
  • Brian Stevens Analytics Student of the Year (23/24)
  • Melton Scholar (23/24)
  • Heath IBEP Student Leadership Council Member
  • Ijams Nature Center Volunteer
  • Oak Ridge Rowing Association Volunteer

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge TN – Summer Mathematics Intern
  • Pilot Company, Knoxville TN – Connect Team Intern
    • Summer Full Time Intern (twice)
    • 23/24 Academic Year Part Time Extended Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m going to attend the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) Program at the Haslam College of Business.

Who is your favorite business professor? Adam Spannbauer is my favorite business professor, and I have been lucky enough to have him as a professor in class as well as a mentor through my student organization, the Business Analytics Society. Professor Spannbauer is so passionate about business analytics and helping his students, and his lectures are fun and engaging. The world of analytics and statistics can be dry and difficult to find exciting, so Professor Spannbauer’s ability to get the class excited and invested is incredible. He goes above and beyond outside of the classroom and puts in a lot of time to help the Business Analytics Society run smoothly and support the members. He makes me so excited for my future career in analytics.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I gained from the Haslam College of Business is understanding the intersection of personal and professional success and growth. Haslam’s business curriculum teaches us to prioritize our professional goals while simultaneously supporting our personal goals. Because I studied and want to work in a field that I love, I never have to sacrifice one part of my life for another.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Be open-minded and play to your strengths. There are so many different majors and careers possible with a business degree, so be open-minded. You never know what field you may stumble upon and fall in love with, so you always want to keep your options open. I have found a lot of value in playing to my strengths and digging into what I am good at. I’ve always loved numbers and problem solving, so I gravitated towards the world of business analytics and statistics because it was a natural strength of mine. Because I was good at my classes, I found fulfillment in what I chose to study, and I’ve really enjoyed beginning my career in this field as well. While acknowledging and working to improve your weaknesses is important, lean into your strengths and leverage what you already have!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? When I decided to study business analytics and applied to the Haslam College of Business, I expected all the students in different majors to be siloed off from one another and not interact with other students outside of their major very often. I was very wrong in this assumption. In many of my classes, I sit next to students who are on completely different academic tracks than myself, and we often collaborate and bring the strengths of our different majors together to work towards a common goal. While my upper-level major specific courses are almost entirely students from my major, I find cross functional collaboration in all my other classes, organizations, and extracurriculars.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I wish I would have gotten involved with business organizations sooner. I joined a few clubs my freshman year, but I was a passive rather than active member. I really enjoyed my time in these clubs, but I wish I would have dug in and made the most of these opportunities instead of just doing the minimum to stay involved. After my sophomore year, I began to get more involved, and I started to reap so many benefits. If I had made the jump to get more involved earlier I would have received all these opportunities and benefits much sooner.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my improved communication skills. I have always loved math, statistics, and other nerdy areas of academia, and I always knew that I wanted a career in a field related to numbers. When I found business analytics and realized that I could incorporate math and stats in the business world, I knew that I was going to need to dig in and improve my communication skills. It was very uncomfortable for me at first, but I committed to myself to go out of my comfort zone and seek out opportunities that would require me to speak or present in front of other people. I took on leadership positions, became an ambassador for my college, and even joined a student run podcast where I interviewed professionals and released the episodes on major podcast streaming platforms. I could have never imagined myself doing all these things and actually enjoying presenting before college, but now I am graduating as a confident communicator.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I admire most is Mark Hajdik. Mary embodies student empowerment and advocacy, and she is constantly looking for ways to get involved in the classroom, college, and university levels to give her fellow students a voice. Mary is extremely hardworking and will always go the extra mile to help her peers. I look up to Mary’s genuine Volunteer spirit, and I am so lucky to have her as a peer and one of my best friends.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Ralph Heath has been an integral part of my success in undergrad. When I was accepted into Mr. Heath’s program, the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program (Heath IBEP), I was placed with Mr. Heath as my mentor. Through our mentor-mentee relationship, I was able to learn so much and constantly have the perspective of a successful professional to look up to and rely on. In addition to Mr. Heath’s mentorship, Heath IBEP has provided me with so many opportunities and connected me with friends and professional peers that I will stay connected to and admire for the rest of my life. Mr. Heath’s support and encouragement has been paramount to my success, and I am so grateful for everything he has done for me and my peers.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I want to get my Master of Science in Business Analytics and come back to teach either as an adjunct or a full-time professor after gaining some work experience.

What made Veda such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Veda’s great! She’s been a standout in class, you can routinely catch her leading prospective students on Haslam tours, and she’s been a phenomenal president for the Business Analytics Society.  She has a knack both for technical class material and for connecting with people; lucky for us she’s very willing to use these superpowers for the good of the community.  I have no doubt that she will crush whatever goals she decides to pursue next.”

Adam Spannbauer
Department of Business Analytics & Statistics
Haslam College of Business

“Veda, I do believe is the standout student in the BAS program for the class of 2024 (very few people are close). When we sat down and tried to figure out who should receive the “Brian Stevens Analytics Student of the Year Award”, the discussion basically went “it’s Veda or nobody” since she’s just stood out that much in classes and extracurriculars.  Adding to what Adam S. has mentioned, she’s one of the elite Melton Scholars this year, working on independent research with Dr. Bobby Mee. She was selected to give one of her presentations in the BAS capstone class for a collection of corporate partners it was so good.

She’s just phenomenally smart and motivated, has mastered both the technical and communication skill required of BAS students, is extremely friendly and helpful to fellow students, super involved with the analytics society, she’s doing IBEP too.”

Adam Petrie
Senior Lecturer
Department of Business Analytics & Statistics
Haslam College of Business

“Over the past year, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Veda Seay, a member of the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program 2024 Cohort. Veda has been an extremely active and supportive member of the Heath IBEP program and an open and candid leader among an extremely strong group of program peers. She is an ardent program advocate sharing the program value and story with sponsors and potential program participants through a variety of roles she holds through Haslam and Heath IBEP. She played a supporting role to keep the program moving during a leadership vacuum, ensuring program participants students had the necessary information and support. She has been instrumental in sharing feedback and input to strengthen and shape the program, ensuring intended student and employer outcomes are met. I find Veda to be an exemplary student, proven leader, and kind and compassionate person and highly recommend her as a Poets and Quants nominee.”

Bob Buckner
Director, Heath Integrated Business & Engineering Program
Haslam College of Business
Tickle College of Engineering


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.