University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Robert Shiller

Nobel Prize Winner Shares Business Wisdom
at Commencement

The Class of 2015 is all smiles as the students wait to receive their degrees.

The Class of 2015 is all smiles as the students wait to receive their degrees.

Students filled with Husky Pride!

Students filled with Husky Pride!

Working in business is a noble profession, and its success should be measured not exclusively by profit but in helping others meet their goals.

That was the wisdom shared by undergraduate Commencement speaker Robert J. Shiller, a Yale University professor and the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Shiller discussed the perceived contradiction between profit and corporate benevolence. But that need not be the case, he said, urging the new graduates to conduct themselves with personal and professional integrity and to never lose sight of the communities they serve.

Already, he noted, many of the nearly 700 graduates have advocated for issues ranging from human rights to corporate social responsibility and environment accountability.

The Golden Rule applies to business, as well as life, and he urged the Class of 2015 to “do unto others as you would have done onto you.’’

The future looks particularly exciting for the Class of 2015, whose graduates have the opportunity to make an impact on emerging fields and rapidly growing international markets. They’ve credited their professors and peers with helping them become more knowledgeable, better listeners, more adept collaborators and stronger leaders. Below are the stories of four new alumni about to embark on their careers.

Dean John A. Elliott addresses the Class of 2015.

Dean John A. Elliott addresses the Class of 2015.

Aileen Tobin '15 (pictured) delivered the student keynote at Commencement.

Aileen Tobin '15 (pictured) delivered the student keynote at Commencement.

Graduate Profiles

Carlos Alvarado: ‘UConn Really Prepares You for the Real World’

Had Carlos Alvarado ’15 been born even 10 years earlier, he might have missed out on the career that seems to be his destiny.

In May, he became one of the first graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree in the School of Business’ new Business Data Analytics program. After a summer internship with global-commerce giant Pitney Bowes, Alvarado was offered a full-time job there, which he began June 8.

Entering UConn as a freshman, Alvarado knew only that he enjoyed math and liked to analyze complicated problems. He was drawn to business, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year that he heard about this ‘hot major’ in business data analytics.

“I couldn’t believe that there was a job out there that was about just analyzing, manipulating and visualizing data,’’ said Alvarado, a native of Stamford.

Even 10 years ago, the technology didn’t exist to make the big-data connections and analysis that can be achieved today. “I am very excited to be in this field because I’ve been told how valuable it makes me to an organization,’’ he said. “I’m not strictly limited to a certain department. I can be a data analyst for finance, HR, accounting or marketing.’’

When Alvarado applied for an internship with Pitney Bowes last year, the manager chuckled during the interview and said, “This internship was made for you!’’

“I took exactly what I learned in my Business Data Analytics course and put it to use in the internship,’’ Alvarado said. “My managers were impressed with my knowledge and they began recommending me to others in the company. What helped get such a good rapport with the other employees was everything that I learned from UConn.’’

Alvarado spent the month after graduation traveling through London, France, Italy and Greece before beginning his job as a Sales Compensation Analyst at Pitney Bowes.

“I loved my time at UConn, especially the Stamford campus,’’ he said. “I feel it was a good choice because the school is great and the campus is small enough to be able to have relationships with your professors. They can become mentors or you could just go to them for some advice, which is something I really value.’’

“I would tell high school students that if they love technology, creating something out of nothing, making improvements to something, then this is the major for them,’’ he said. “UConn really prepares you for the real world.’’

Ting Zhu, University of British Columbia

Carlos Alvarado '15

“I took exactly what I learned in my Business Data Analytics course and put it to use in the internship,’’ Alvarado said. “My managers were impressed with my knowledge and they began recommending me to others in the company. What helped get such a good rapport with the other employees was everything that I learned from UConn.’’

Paige Gregory’s Many Contributions Led to Hall of Fame Induction

Ting Zhu, University of British Columbia

Paige Gregory '15

“I think the biggest ‘take aways’ from the committees I worked on was the value of listening. I came into those projects with preconceived notions of how I would approach them, and over the course of discussions with my colleagues and conducting focus groups with students, I walked away with different perspectives.’’

As an undergraduate student, Paige Gregory ’15 was able to help revive a dwindling scholarship program, broaden guidelines for admission to the School of Business and execute 15 service projects for a business fraternity.

What’s more remarkable is that Gregory, a transfer student to UConn, was able to accomplish it all in just three years. Gregory’s contribution was so noteworthy that the marketing major was inducted as a Student Fellow in the School of Business Hall of Fame, the only undergraduate to achieve that recognition this year.

“I wouldn’t have changed my choice to attend UConn for anything,’’ said Gregory, who transferred from a Boston university. “Coming here was the most impactful choice of my life.’’

Back in high school, Gregory learned to tackle projects with zeal, whether playing soccer or tennis, serving on student government and as a liaison to the Board of Education, volunteering at Big Sisters or working part-time in a restaurant.

“I had big dreams as a kid—I still do—and I think I recognized early on that success doesn’t come without a lot of hard work,’’ she said. “I also have my parents to thank for that, especially my Dad. He has taught me the value of earning your success and has encouraged me to rely on myself and not expect others to take care of things for me.’’

Gregory served on two key committees during her time at UConn. As a member of the West Hartford Campus Scholarship Committee, Gregory and others devised a marketing plan that led to a 260 percent increase in applicants and attracted higher caliber candidates than in the past.

She also served on the School of Business’ Internal Admissions Redesign Committee, which broadened the admission process from relying strictly on GPA to include leadership, volunteer work and work experience. The redesign involved input from student focus groups, faculty, staff and more.

In addition, Gregory worked in the undergraduate Career Development Office as a peer advisor, assisting others with resumes, cover letters and interview preparation.

She also served as Vice President of Event Coordination at Pi Sigma Epsilon, a national business fraternity, where she managed and executed over 15 projects. For instance, in the Fall of 2013, she organized a ping-pong tournament that raised more than $300 for breast cancer research.

Gregory was also the CFO of EcoHusky, an organization that promotes environmental awareness and sustainability both on campus and in the community. She spent spring break collaborating with other students on an environmental service project in the Appalachians.

Raised in Ivoryton, Conn., Gregory has accepted a job as Assistant Brand Manager at Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Mich., where she had a summer internship last year.

“There are obviously several marketing concepts that I will take with me to Whirlpool, but I think the most helpful skill I developed at UConn was the ability to interact with my peers, whether in the business fraternity or in classroom group assignments. You experience a lot of different personalities in those group settings and being able to adapt and work toward a common goal is so relevant in the workforce,’’ she said.

“I think the biggest ‘take aways’ from the committees I worked on was the value of listening. I came into those projects with preconceived notions of how I would approach them, and over the course of discussions with my colleagues and conducting focus groups with students, I walked away with different perspectives,’’ Gregory said. “I think that’s a valuable lesson for when I start to take on managerial responsibilities in the workplace. Gathering lots of feedback can ultimately lead to a better conclusion.’’

Kelly McCourt: An Ivy League Education at a Public University Price

Kelly McCourt ’15 is a two-time North American Irish Dance Champion and it was her love of step-dancing that first attracted her to UConn.

“I participated in competitive Irish dance for 15 years and knew that I was not quite ready to give it up when I went to college,’’ said McCourt, who grew up in Bethel. “Staying within driving distance of my dance studio was important to me.’’

While at UConn, she maintained close ties to Irish culture, but also thrived in her career path as a finance major. McCourt participated in the Student Managed Fund, a $1.8 million endowment that is invested exclusively by students. A popular and prestigious program within the School of Business, McCourt said the experience was one of the most valuable she had at UConn.

“I learned so much about investing and how to analyze a business and how to defend and argue a position,’’ she said. “Furthermore, the Student Managed Fund provided me with the opportunity to meet many well-regarded alumni and has been as close to the ‘real world’ as you can get while still having guidance and an in-classroom setting.’’

McCourt is about to begin a job at Citizens Bank in Stamford as an analyst on the Mergers and Acquisitions team. As a UConn student, McCourt had two internships, the first at Burnham Sterling, a boutique investment bank in Greenwich that specializes in aircraft finance.

The second internship was with Royal Bank of Scotland, where McCourt worked as an investment banking analyst, rotating through corporate advisory and project finance. The company had offered her a job, which she accepted, but after a portion of the company was sold, the position was eliminated.

“I was able to harness the connections I made over the last four years to get myself many interviews, and ultimately chose Citizens for my post-grad career,’’ she said.

“Without costing as much as a private university, UConn has a great curriculum and many post-grad opportunities,’’ McCourt said. “From my experience at internships, I have been just as prepared for a career in finance as many students from Ivy League and other top universities.’’  

The university is large enough to offer many clubs and activities, said McCourt who choreographed the dance club, UConn Irish, for three years and served as president during senior year. The organization also promotes Irish culture through dance, music and food and sponsors an annual Irish Fest for the community.

Yet, the School of Business and its related classes offered a small environment where McCourt said she got to know professors well. Living in the exclusive Business Connections Learning Community on campus afforded her the opportunity to travel to Madrid and Barcelona, foster faculty and peer friendships and enhanced her networking opportunities.

Ting Zhu, University of British Columbia

Kelly McCourt ’15

"The Student Managed Fund provided me with the opportunity to meet many well-regarded alumni and has been as close to the ‘real world’ as you can get while still having guidance and an in-classroom setting.’’

Marc Schuman Spurred UConn to Create Major in Chinese

Ting Zhu, University of British Columbia

Marc Schuman ’15

“My four years at UConn were a very fulfilling experience. I think that UConn has access to all of the resources that a student needs. The world is at your hands here, with outstanding faculty and a whole network of people willing to help. You’ve just got to go out and find them.’’

When Marc Schuman ’15 found out that UConn didn’t offer a major in Chinese, he knew that had to change.

He took the initiative, with the help of Chinese professors Liansu Meng, Chunsheng Yang and others, proposing the major to administrators in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved the new major, which includes not only language but also literary and cultural studies.

This spring, Schuman was one of the first three students to graduate with a degree in Chinese from UConn. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has accepted a full-time job offer at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City. Schuman plans a career in international business and said he aspires to become an important part of the growing economic exchange between China and the United States.

“I took my first trip to China when I was in high school and everything was so different from what I’d known,’’ he said. “It ignited a curiosity in me about different ways of life. What are the people eating? What games are they playing? How do they conduct business in another part of the world? All of that is fascinating to me.’’

“I feel that helping to create the major in Chinese was my biggest accomplishment at UConn,’’ said Schuman, a native of West Hartford. “My four years at UConn were a very fulfilling experience. I think that UConn has access to all of the resources that a student needs. The world is at your hands here, with outstanding faculty and a whole network of people willing to help. You’ve just got to go out and find them.’’

Schuman said he chose UConn because of its Honors Program, a generous scholarship, and a chance to watch UConn basketball from the student section. He has been described by those who know him as brilliant, unassuming and humble. He graduated from UConn with a 3.92 GPA and served as co-president of the UConn Finance Society.

He studied abroad at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, during the summer of 2012, and also studied at the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China, during the spring semester of 2014. During that time, Schuman also interned with Moody’s in Hong Kong. He discovered the opportunity through Thomas Marshella ’79, managing director of U.S./Americas corporate finance for Moody’s Investors Service, whom he met at a scholarship event on campus.  

Meanwhile, the Chinese major continues to attract student attention. There are currently about ten students majoring in Chinese and dozens of students signed up for Chinese courses of all levels. Schuman believes the program will continue to grow and recommends it for anyone looking for a life-changing experience.

“Living in a foreign country has allowed me to become more understanding and patient as a person,’’ Schuman said. “The more I hang out with people from different parts of the world, the more I realize how similar we are. I no longer only see people as Chinese people or American people, but I also see us all as people of the world.’’

Article by: Claire Hall

Published: June 23, 2015