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Finding their purpose: Chambers College graduates prepared for future of work

The month of December gives us so much to celebrate, especially our West Virginia University winter business graduates who will turn their tassels towards a future of purpose ignited by their years at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics.

On Saturday, December 17, the Chambers College welcomed 248 business graduates into our alumni family.

All of our graduates – 177 undergraduate students and 71 graduate students – joined together in the WVU Coliseum with family and friends at 2:00 p.m. to hear inspiring words from West Virginia University’s President E. Gordon Gee, as well as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed.

Each year, our graduates continue to inspire us with the work they do both in and out of the classroom.

“We often say that our Chambers College students are the future of work, and that has never been more true than it is today,” said Josh Hall, Milan Puskar Dean. “The future of business needs their perseverance, pioneering spirts and compassion to change the world for the better.”

Whether it’s being a role model for undergraduate students as a Chambers College Ambassador or Peer Mentor, tutoring a student with coursework in the Becker Academic Engagement Success Center (AeSC), winning a competition, starting a small business, or choosing to continue their education in graduate school, this year’s graduates are more than prepared to enter the next chapter of their lives.

From landing jobs at Big Four firms like Ernst & Young (EY) and Deloitte, to household names, such as WVU Medicine, PPG, Huntington Bank, Amazon, PepsiCo, and Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts, that next chapter is looking bright.

Emmy Severs, entrepreneurship graduate

Aside from taking a full-time job, some students will also pursue their small businesses.

Emmy Severs, an entrepreneurship graduate from Chester, WV, has chosen to focus on her stationary business, Lemon Milk Paper Co, full time.

“I actually started college as an elementary education major and it wasn’t until junior year I switched to entrepreneurship,” said Severs. “My parents were always stressed, so I told myself I didn't want to be stressed like them," she said. "I quickly realized that any job is stressful, but if you are passionate about what you do and feel fulfilled, the stress is all worthwhile. Once I started my stationery business and realized how fulfilling it is to be your own boss and have customers who love your products, I was hooked. I knew I had to switch to entrepreneurship to chase this newfound passion.”

Severs found her major and home away from home at the Chambers College.

“My favorite thing about the Chambers College are my amazing professors,” she said. “Everyone warned me I would be just a number at a big school like WVU. That is not the case at all. I have great relationships with all of my professors, and I know they believe in me and support me. I am so thankful for that.”

Severs has also been involved with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, the WVU Fastenal Sales Team (where she recently won first and second place at a sales competition) and other extracurricular activities across campus.

“There are so many things I will miss about WVU,” said Severs. “It is hard to grasp that I’ve made so many friends, connections, and memories here, just to leave and move on to another chapter of my life. I will miss the little things like walking to class and seeing a friendly face and all of the organizations I was involved in.”

Faith Figgins, economics graduate

Faith Figgins, an economics graduate from Martinsburg, WV, chose her major because she saw it was a well-rounded program and found that there are endless opportunities within the major.

“WVU offered the best opportunity to pursue whatever my heart desired,” said Figgins. “Within the economics program, the courses hone in on analytic and problem-solving skills applicable to the personal and professional world. The department is full of people who are eager to learn, and mentors that are knowledgeable and willing to guide you on your own path.”

Aside from her day-to-day studies, Figgins has been a Chambers College Peer Mentor for the last two years. She has also held executive positions within student organizations and business clubs, such as Active Minds, Global Business Brigades, Law and Economics Club, WVU Paws, and Baskets of Love.

After graduation, Figgins hopes to take a year off to travel and explore law schools.

Figgins said she will miss the tight-knit community that is the Chambers College.

“The advisers, professors, Center for Career Development (CCD) staff, the graduate assistants, and even fellow business peers, are so kind and helpful. You can ask anyone nearly anything and they will always provide an answer or advice to the best of their ability.”

Some of our graduates, like Mason Harp, are choosing to stay at WVU for grad school.

Mason Harp, marketing graduate

Originally from Fayetteville, WV, Harp admits he chose marketing because he wanted to promote certain brands and businesses. Lucky for him, he got a small taste of that promoting both new and well-known products as the University’s Coca-Cola Ambassador

During his time as a business student, he has also been involved in Delta Sigma Pi, Niedermeyer Scholars, Career Readiness Program, and Public Relations Student Society of America.

Harp said that he will miss all of the support from the Chambers College and his co-workers in the AeSC.

When it comes to advice for future business students, he said it’s the people you meet throughout your college career that will help you in more ways than one.

“Meet all of the people you can meet. Introduce yourself to your professors, people living on the same floor as you in the dorm, and the people sitting next to you in class. You never know when a connection can lead to a job or a lifelong friendship,” he said.

After graduation, Harp has chosen to stay at WVU to pursue his master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). He will continue being the University’s Coca-Cola Ambassador and he has also secured a graduate assistantship (GA) position with WVU Extension.

Our graduates students, near and far, are also celebrating their latest achievements and are proud to be earning their masters through the Chambers College.

Virginia Rose, MSHRM graduate

Virginia Rose, a master’s of science in human resource management (MSHRM) grad from Berryville, Virginia, is now a two-time WVU graduate after earning her undergraduate degree in sport and exercise psychology in 2021. 

“I love WVU and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” said Rose. “My program challenged me and showed me what I was capable of. Additionally, it made it really easy to make connections and expand my network.”

When it came to who she would want to thank from the Chambers College, Rose said all of the business professors and advisors that worked with her in the MSHRM program.

Rose has already accepted a full-time position with PepsiCo as an HR representative after graduation and will be moving to Boston.

Selena Hayes, MBA graduate

Chambers College MBA graduate and West Virginia native, Selena Hayes, also received her undergraduate degree in psychology from WVU.

“My employer of nearly 15 years closed their Morgantown facility in 2021, providing me with the perfect opportunity to further my education,” said Hayes. “I wanted a degree that would broaden my horizons and increase the availability of future career opportunities. The WVU MBA program checked all of those boxes while offering the convenience and flexibility of online coursework.”

“I chose WVU, specifically the Chambers College, because of its solid reputation in the academic community. The program cultivates well-rounded executives and opens the door to a wide variety of career paths. Additionally, everyone at the Chambers College was so helpful and informative when I began researching potential programs, that I knew WVU was the right choice.

I would recommend the MBA program to anyone considering grad school. The varied curriculum guarantees exposure to a wide variety of subjects and creates professionals with expansive business knowledge and unlimited opportunities for advancement.”

After graduation, Hayes will be working as a software consultant, assisting businesses with the implementation and management of ERP software.

“I previously worked as an ERP supervisor, and obtaining an MBA will allow me to take the next step and counsel businesses around the world in the integration and optimization of their processes and platforms,” said Hayes.

Benjamin Craw, MS in Human Resource Management

For others, earning their business masters is their first WVU degree.

Benjamin Craw is originally from Champaign, Illinois, and received his undergraduate degree in business administration from Mississippi State University.

“I changed my major four times during undergrad and had three different internships that propelled me to choose to pursue my masters in human resources management ,” said Craw. “Overall, I wanted to work with and support people while in a business environment, and HR provided me with that opportunity.

I choose WVU because of the reputation and outcomes of the HR program. Additionally, my sister completed her undergraduate degree here and wanted to move closer to family.”

While he is excited for his future in HR, Craw says he will miss the friends he has made and the business faculty that drove him to be his best self.

“Coming to WVU and being part of the Chambers College has provided me with so many opportunities to be introspective, and really think about all of the ways that I can be successful and have an impact on people's lives,” he said. “My favorite thing about my program was the practicum series that we have on Friday mornings. It was an amazing opportunity to interact with industry professionals and gain real world experience. Every single class in the HR program has provided me with additional skills and experiences to take into my future career. Everything that we do in this program builds on one another and provides students with an incredible amount of knowledge in the field of HR.”

After graduation, Craw will be working with Eaton as part of their Human Resource Leadership Development program. His first rotation will be in Irvine, California.

Timothy Holt, Healthcare MBA

Timothy Holt, a WV native residing in Atlanta, Georgia, received his nursing degree from Auburn University and his nurse practitioner doctorate from the University of Tennessee, but he wanted to continue his education through our Chambers College Healthcare MBA (HMBA) program.

“I read that the HMBA program was a new initiative and I wanted to be part of an initial cohort,” said Holt. “The Chambers College has a reputation of being student-friendly and I was looking for a professional program who treated their students more as peer professionals and embraced adult education versus a traditional student. As a healthcare professional, the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely intense and draining, and the HMBA program was very flexible and empathetic towards their students who worked in healthcare.”

Thanks to the HMBA program, Holt is able to take the skills he learned back into the hospital setting.

“I better understand how to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion, how to utilize marketing tools, how to lead in a complicated and ever-changing healthcare environment, and how to innovate within a highly regulated industry,” he said.

After graduation, Holt will continue in his career as a Manager of a Medical Liaison team with bioMerieux, Inc. – a global biotech firm based out of Leon, France and Salt Lake City, UT.

“I will miss the learning opportunity, the interaction with fellow students, the opportunity to learn more from such highly experiences professors, and learning new things about healthcare leadership.”

Making their marks

Wherever Country Roads lead our graduates next, there is no doubt that they will leave a lasting mark on their respective fields. 

“Our business graduates will turn the impossible into possible and change the world in ways that only Mountaineers can,” said Hall.

Chambers College