September 30, 2013
Before her collegiate career began, Deanne Bhamgara knew two things: she wanted to study business, and she wanted to study it in America.
Born in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, and raised in Nigeria for most of her life, Bhamgara had her first encounter with the Mountaineer way of life at a career fair.
"I had really researched regarding the top business schools. WVU was one of them. Mr. Michael Wilhelm, the Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, had come to Nigeria at a fair. The thing that truly surprised me was that he remembered my name. He inspired me to come to WVU," she recalled.
This positive first impression led her to Morgantown, nearly 6,000 miles from home.
"I feel it was an advantage for me coming to West Virginia first. I missed home a lot, but here the environment is very friendly and people are easy to talk to. One thing that I really experienced was the whole 'southern hospitality' ideal. It made it easier for me to adjust," she said. Bhamgara said that she's been able to travel to different states during her time in America, but that the kindness of West Virginians is noticeable and special.
Today, Bhamgara is a senior economics student in high academic standing at B&E.
"(Undergraduate Advising Director) Mr. Joe Seiaman encouraged me to take Professor Stratford Douglas for Econ 202 and from there on, I really thought I would pursue econ as my major," she said. She has also enjoyed economics classes with Professor Dongwoo Yoo.
"I think that economics, in general, is the basis of why the business field runs – it starts from there and ends up in different fields when the money comes in," Bhamgara explained. "Economics is everything. I'm also interested in finance because I'm interested in the whole banking field," she said.
Bhamgara's goals include pursuing a master's degree, possibly in finance, and then working for a global company such as Goldman Sachs.
"The most important thing is taking good professors. Here, they teach you well. They motivated me to pursue the course, the line I have taken. I would prefer to do my master's here. I love the professors here," she said. "Eventually, I would love to work in the U.S. for a global company. My aim is traveling the whole world and working everywhere, if possible."
Throughout her collegiate years, Bhamgara has also been able to experience the marketing side of business with an internship at the 7UP Bottling Company in Ibadan, Nigeria. There, she provided customer service support regarding payments and credits due, resolved problems and worked on market information surveys.
"I expected meeting a lot of top dealers, which I did. I had face-to-face communication with them. It was different because (the Nigerian) culture and markets are different than it is here," she said. "That really benefits me, as it makes me more open and exposed to different kinds of scenarios. It also gave me self-discipline regarding timeliness. That will help me out in the future," she said.
"Internships are important because you get a real experience. I'm an econ major, but now I have an experience in marketing. It was nice to get a different perspective on business than finance and economics," she said. "Marketing, I feel, is more about how you deal with situations. There were times when the customers were not satisfied, but it was all in how you pursue them and how you talk to them (to solve the situation). In economics, it's more about the knowledge that you have, the math implications. I like (marketing and economics) both," she said.
Outside of school, Bhamgara has worked in the Stalnaker dining hall and has served as a member of the African Student Association, the Indian Student Organization, and as treasurer of the International Student Organization. She has helped plan and participated in events such as a Mini World Cup Soccer Tournament and the International Tea.
"I've always wanted to do something that involves meeting people from different cultures and I think that is a great experience," she said. "It's important to bring people from different cultures together. Now since I'm the treasurer of the ISO, money plays a big role in the organization and I have to talk to people to get sponsorships for events like that to take place. Getting to build relationships and getting funding for the club ties in well with my business major," she said.
Bhamgara said that her parents have been the strongest influencers of her stellar academic achievement.
"My dad is my role model. He has a sense of humor but he's also very disciplined. He's diligent but at the same time he spends a lot of time with family. He knows how to balance things," she said.
"My parents encouraged me to study in America. I am so thankful for the support they have given me. I am here, who I am right now, because of my parents. They can't wait to come for my graduation in May (2014). I'm glad it's in the Coliseum because it will be just like the pictures they've seen."