Clayton Johnson (C’09) admits he was “skeptical about the liberal arts concept when I first came to Principia.” But now, there’s no question in this business major’s mind: “I appreciate studying a variety of subjects, and the communication skills I developed are extremely useful. I can carry a conversation with anyone, respecting many points of view.”
Clayton is finding that the Business Department classes he took at Principia—finance, marketing, MIS—are extremely relevant to his current position as sales representative for Merlin International, an information technology solutions company based in Colorado. Merlin’s main clients include the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and the Veteran’s Administration. Clayton’s sales focus is on secure data storage.
“I have a great deal of respect for the business faculty at Principia,” Clayton says. “Each professor brings a lot of professional experience to the classroom. I especially appreciated our case studies in Strategic Management. . . . [The] problem-solving approach was good preparation for real-life business situations.” Clayton minored in German, and went on the Austria mini-abroad his sophomore year.
During his senior year, Clayton spent time in the Career Advising office calling former business majors. “Most alums willingly shared insights about potential career paths, ideas about opportunities, . . . and advice on what they did,” says Clayton appreciatively. He still stays in touch with a few of those contacts.
Clayton played football his freshman year, worked for campus security, and volunteered on the fire brigade. He started a “Panther Racing Car Club,” modifying an on-campus garage for students to work on autos. He also co-founded a “Support the Troops Club," collecting items to send to U.S. armed forces.
For now, Clayton plans to stay on in Colorado: He love the access to outdoor activities, and is an avid hiker, off-roader, jet skier, and snow skier.
It’s a long way from Ghana, West Africa, to the U.S. Midwest. But for business major Gifty Aryeetey (C'10), it’s been a wonderful journey of discovery that may, eventually, take her full circle.
Currently working on her MBA at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, Gifty says, “My career goal is to be a consultant working with people in developing countries. I would love to help educate small business owners in Ghana and other countries about best business practices, demonstrating a better way to use resources.”
During her four years at Principia College, Gifty expanded her own worldview—and did the same for the campus and peers around her.
“The business department professors had a very high standard and pushed me a lot,” says Gifty, who also minored in Economics and theatre. “I was joyful at the end of each term because of the feeling of accomplishment.”
Economics, of course, seems a natural complement to business studies. But theatre?
Being on stage, Gifty says, helped her break out of her comfort zone and gave her a skill she uses daily: “I learned so much about oral interpretation, which is something I use every day with presentations in my MBA program!”
In her senior year, Gifty went on the Barbados Abroad, interning with the Ministry of Education. She and other students produced a video to inform teachers about print and electronic resources that could enhance their teaching effectiveness. “It felt great to be part of this greater cause,” Gifty says.
During her junior and senior years, Gifty was a resident assistant (RA)—“a great opportunity to practice Christian Science,” in her words. She was elected President of the international students her senior year, and directed the Whole World Festival her junior year. She also started a program to establish diversity heads on each house board to better represent the international students on campus.
Before starting her graduate program, Gifty worked for nearly a year at Bank of America. “I soon felt that I wasn’t making full use of my education, and . . . began to consider next steps, talking with Jim Brandt in the career office,” Gifty says. This led to learning more about the UMSL MBA, and voila!
As she looks ahead to graduating in 2013, Gifty often reflects gratefully on her Principia experience. “The Prin environment is where you go to refresh, cleanse, and rebuild your faith. Prin loves and nurtures its students, providing an educational environment free of negative thoughts. I feel I came out of Prin prepared for life because of that.”