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Winter 2023 Graduation: A New Generation of Business Professionals

Another December has come, and another class of business students is going forth to change the world.

Another December has come, and another class of business students is going forth to change the world.

On Saturday, December 16, 272 students graduated from the Chambers College, 164 of them undergraduates and 108 of them graduate students. They will go on to work at Big Four accounting firms, nonprofits, government agencies. Some will continue their educations; others will focus on building careers.

All of these students walked the same path across the stage to the spot where they received their diplomas, but their destinations are as varied as the journeys that brought them to that point.

“Our Chambers College graduates are prepared to boldly make their marks on the world of business,” said Josh Hall, Milan Puskar Dean. “What I’ve seen from these students is their courage to turn impossibilities into possibilities, their passion for solving business problems, and their compassion for people. These are the qualities of business leaders in the making."

Here are the stories of the Mountaineers who will work, collaborate, lead, shape the future and change the world.

Photo of students singing at graduation

Brian Kotson

B.S.B.A.D. Hospitality and Tourism

“I’d worked in restaurants since I was 15 or 16 years old. I figured, why not double down on that and go into hospitality?”

Glendale native Brian Kotson wasn’t always a business student. In fact, when he first came to WVU, he started as a psychology major. Then he became a neuroscience major. Then math. Then interactive design for media.

It took him a while to find his way to the business world, but once he did, he was hooked, and his STEM-focused background gave him an edge.

“It was a major asset for me,” Kotson said. “I bring a very analytical mindset to business. I’m a big data guy, and I want to be data forward with my leadership and management to help with profitability.”

Inspired by a class tour to Nemacolin led by adjunct professor and Chambers alumna Carrie Digman, Kotson set his sights on the resort life. A summer internship there quickly led to a job offer, which he accepted. Kotson now serves as a food and beverage supervisor.

He’s especially enthusiastic about Nemacolin’s recent gift to WVU’s Hardy Family Hospitality and Tourism program.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Kotson. “The way they treat their interns and young supervisors – we’re valued, we’re compensated well. I think that every one of my classmates can benefit from time there.

“The WVU Hardy Family Hospitality and Tourism program is phenomenal. It’s going to be world-renowned soon, especially with the partnership of a resort like Nemacolin.”

Who made the biggest impact on you from the Chambers College team?

" Frank DeMarco and Ajay Aluri. I learned so much and developed so much as a hospitality leader from their guidance and charisma. Without them, I don’t think I’d be anywhere near where I am today.”

What are you going to miss most about WVU?

“I’m going to miss my classmates. I already have friends who are in Hawaii, working in wedding planning companies, or in Columbus, managing hotels. I’ve built such a bond with everyone in the program that there are very few hospitality majors who I don’t consider close friends of mine.”

What advice would you give to future students?

“Work. My internships rounded me out, and now I really bring a lot more experience and versatility to the table. You really are going to learn more from actively participating in the industry, and you’re going to be able to apply all these business concepts that you see in every single class. If you get that jump start, you’re leaving more competitive than any other college student.”

Maggie Menard

B.S.B.Ad. Global Supply Chain Management

B.S. Economics

Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Maggie Menard swapped the bayous for the mountains. She was far from home – but in her studies, she took inspiration from her family.

“My dad’s worked in supply chain for an oil company for 30 years, and we moved around a lot,” said Menard. “I grew up in the Netherlands, so I think that was appealing to me, knowing there was an international experience.”

Menard chose to major in Global Supply Chain Management – and soon after, chose to major in Economics as well, inspired by her sister, an economics major and bank employee.

“Throughout high school, I only ever wanted to do forensics. I got to college, and within three weeks realized forensics was not for me. My family influenced me, in a way, to get into these business fields, and now I’m glad I did. At 18, no one really knows what they want to do, but I’ve received a lot of guidance.”

Menard’s journey soon took her to internships at Trane Technologies, a company that works in sustainable manufacturing, and Goldman Sachs.

“I’ve never worried about finding a job, especially having those internships under my belt. The stability in both of these fields is what drew me to them.”

Menard is now exploring her options, but is concentrating on furthering her education in economics through a Ph.D. program.

Who made the biggest impact on you from the Chambers College team?

“My advisor, Julia Broskey, has been a massive help in guiding me through my academic experience. She advised me through several major changes and some challenging courses, and helped me navigate my two degrees.”

What advice would you give to future students?

“You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you have to be the hardest-working person. I don’t remember which professor told me that, but it stuck with me.”

What are you going to miss most about WVU?

“The snow! We don’t get snow in Louisiana. I mean, I’ll miss everything. I love Morgantown. I told my mom the other day I’d be content living in Morgantown for the rest of my life.”

Photo of Ian Thayer at graduation

Ian Thayer

M.S. Human Resource Management

The Chambers College has dedicated itself to developing “pipelines” for students: programs that will deliver them into graduate programs and careers. In Ian Thayer’s case, the pipeline was more like a rocket sled.

“I came here in 2018,” said Thayer. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study. I had an idea that I wanted to do business, so I delved into the realm of human resources. My father came through the MSHRM program back when it was the Master of Science in Industrial Labor Relations. He wanted to take my own path, but I found through my undergrad classes that I really like seeing the intricacies of people – what drives them, what motivates them.”

From there, Thayer’s path was set. An undergraduate degree turned into a graduate degree – and a graduate degree turned into something more.

“The professors have all been super enthusiastic about the program. They know what awaits us on the other side, after we graduate. We’ve had a plethora of industry professionals come in and speak to us about their experiences, from labor union management representatives to higher-up employees from PepsiCo, General Electric... too many to name.

“I was the student relations director for the Society for Human Resource Management chapter here last year. In that role, I mostly acted as a recruiter, and went around to business core classes where I felt like I would have the best exposure to people interested in human resource management. Having a leadership role, I think that’s pretty cool.”

Thayer’s success as a student and leader in Reynolds Hall soon translated into success on the professional front as well.

“I’ve been working with the compensation team at WVU Medicine since June as an intern. My manager wanted to just complement my education, getting some of those hands-on experiences working in human resource management. I was asked to continue on, and accepted the offer three weeks ago. I really look forward to starting and seeing how I can contribute.”

Who made the biggest impact on you from the Chambers College team?

" Dr. Jeff Houghton has definitely made a huge impact. I had him in undergrad as well. He taught our leadership class in the first semester of the program, and he offered a lot of advice that we could take into our professional careers.”

What advice would you give to future students?

“Take advantage of student organizations. Get involved not only because it can be a resume builder, but because it can help in developing your leadership, building relationships, and building a network of people that you’ll know for the rest of your life. They might help you out down the line – or maybe you’ll help them out.”

What are you going to miss most about WVU?

“I pride myself on learning something new every day. I’m really passionate about continuing my education – so I might not be done here. I’m thinking of going back for a J.D. Who knows?”


AM 12/16/23

CONTACT: Andrew Marvin
Multimedia Specialist
John Chambers College of Business and Economics

Chambers College