Throwback Thursday with Kent Akers

As an Associate Director of Advising and as advisor to Financial Management majors, Kent Akers spends a lot of time talking with students while helping them plan their academic career at ACU. With counseling degrees in psychology (B.S. ’09) and Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT ’11), Kent also helps students with issues like pre-martial counseling, career aptitude, and more. Kent shared a few of his favorite memories with us on this Throwback Thursday.

 

 

 

What was your best memory from college?

My best memory from college was either being at the football game where ACU beat WTAMU 93-68 or playing baseball for Coach Britt Bonneau.

 

 

 

What is your best advice for college students?

My best advice would be to keep your dorm room door open as much as you can. My best friendships in college came from people who would walk through my open door and from the open doors I chose to walk through.

 

 

 

What do you wish you could tell your college self today?

I wish I could tell my college self that doing too many things is not a good thing. Choose a couple of things to be really involved in and do them well. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Internships with an EDGE: Preparing Students for the Workforce

Internships matter. That’s what the COBA Professional Development team and the ACU Career Center want to imprint in every student’s mind. According to a 2017 NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition study (click here to read), “Grade point average and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate student are the major predictors of initial career outcomes.” What the study found was that participation in internships in college greatly increased a student’s chances of becoming employed within six months of graduation. In addition to creating better opportunities for employment, internships help students discern what types of careers they want to pursue after graduation. We talked to two students who completed internships this summer to see how their internships impacted them.

Jemimah Wavamunno

Jemimah Wavamunno, junior management major from Kampala, Uganda, interned for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., focusing on public and foreign policy. Her favorite part of the internship was, “Getting to grow alongside interns in my program (National Student Leadership). I feel in the professional work-space, I learned even more about my desired field of postgraduate study – Foreign Policy/ Affairs. Therefore, I have a better understanding of what I want to learn in the future.”

Jemimah’s advice for students who are looking for internships is to keep their options open while applying. “Don’t just search for what might look good on your resume. Look for something that will pertain specifically to you and your journey. Pray over all your offers to choose the right one, and don’t be so downcast over your rejections.”

Luke Stevens, senior marketing major from Montgomery, Texas, interned with Pharos Resources, LLC in Abilene. Luke served as a Retention Intelligence Specialist performing data analytics and visualization tasks. His favorite part of the internship was learning the Tableau software. “It is an amazing

Luke Stevens

program and will be very useful in any business setting.” Not only did he enjoy acquiring new skills, but Luke sees this internship helping him in the future in large part due to the support he received from the Pharos staff. “Pharos is a great support system, not just a job. The leaders care about you and want you to succeed in your career. Having their support along with the skills that I’ve learned here will propel me into a career of success.” Luke felt as though his largest area of personal and professional growth came from gaining responsibility “to perform tasks that will actually be seen by clients. I never felt an overwhelming fear of making a mistake. Instead, I learned to have a healthy understanding that I must constantly give my best work.”

Luke advises students looking for internships, “Don’t stop looking for internships or making connections. The offer to intern at Pharos came late in my search and it turned out to be better than I could have hoped.”

Steph Brown

We spoke with Steph Brown, COBA’s Professional Development Manager, to learn how she is working to get students engaged with her office and prepare them for successful outcomes after graduation. Building on relationships with faculty, the ACU Career Center, and her ten years of experience in counseling, advising, coaching and leadership training, Steph is working to implement a new program that strengthens COBA’s business and technology professional development. The EDGE Professional Development Program (E = Explore, D = Develop a Plan, G = Gain Experience, E = Employment) helps students take intentional steps each semester to prepare for entry into the professional world of work. Steph says, “Intentional professional development planning in college is critical for students to successfully compete for and gain internships and jobs. Students who begin this process their first year of college have significant advantages over students who do not.”

The EDGE Professional Development Program is designed to develop, equip, and connect business and technology students for career success. By utilizing online self-learning Canvas course modules, weekly workshops, one-on-one coaching appointments, and campus resources, students gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience that enables them to compete for internships and jobs. All business majors are encouraged to participate in this professional development program and all technology students have mandated requirements for participation.

Freshmen explore majors and career paths. In their sophomore year, students learn how to manage their professional impressions and create career plans. Each year, students update their resume and create professional portfolios to market themselves to employers. In their junior year, students begin developing professional networks in their industries of choice, learning how to search for, apply to, interview for, and secure internships. As a senior, students expand their networking skills and continue to market themselves professionally. Students also learn strategies to transition from college to the workforce.

COBA’s focus on internship and job preparation through the EDGE program is indicative of the importance placed on the investment that students and parents make in college; an investment of their money, time, and hard work. In the 2017 Job Outlook survey from NACE (click here to read), only 5 percent of employer respondents said that work experience is not a factor when hiring new graduates. The majority of employers are looking to hire college graduates who have completed an internship or gained some kind of work experience while in college. Professional development programs like EDGE and the ACU Career Center, along with internship experiences, accelerate entry-level career opportunities. We think that’s the kind of pay off a college investment should have. Do you have questions about the EDGE program? Email Steph Brown at stephanie.brown@acu.edu.

Steph Brown

After a yearlong vacancy in the Professional Manager position in COBA, we’re excited to introduce you to Stephanie Brown, who was hired this summer to fill the post. Steph comes to us with an exceptional resume and a very interesting background as a collegiate and professional volleyball player. As a former athlete, here are Steph’s “stats”.

Steph grew up in Union, Missouri and earned a M.S. in College Counseling. She is married to Clint Brown, who is a Defensive Coordinator for ACU Football and they have one daughter, Ava, who is 11 years old. Their family also includes two German Shorthair pointers, Gunner, who is 14 and Buddy, who is 15 and a half.

In her position as Professional Development Manager for the College of Business Administration, Steph is tasked with orchestrating the Professional Development Program for all Business and Technology students, through teaching, training, coaching, leading, management and partnerships. She is highly qualified for such a large task. Steph worked for more than six years as a Career Coach at South Dakota State University (SDSU), for 3 years as a Professional Academic Advisor with SDSU, and for 2 years as an Academic Success Coordinator with SDSU. Prior to her work at SDSU, she had careers in social work, human resources, non-profit market management, teaching, coaching, counseling, and professional athletics.

We asked Steph what drew her to this work. “I have always known that I would work with people. Building upon an undergraduate major in psychology, I worked in the helping professions. My time spent in Division 1 athletics at the University of Nebraska (volleyball) and then later on the USA Olympic Team and professional athletic career abroad instilled in me a love for coaching people toward positive outcomes. When I went to solidify my Master of Science degree program, I chose college counseling as it was the best fit for my skill sets and career ambitions. I believe that college is such a formative time for students and if they get the right support and guidance, they can make effective decisions that will set them up for success for the rest of their lives.”

Steph may never have landed at ACU but her husband, Clint, interviewed for the Defensive Coordinator job in January of 2019 and Steph came with him on the interview. They were both very impressed with the mission of ACU, the campus personnel, facilities, and opportunities for students. Equally impressive was the family-friendly community of Abilene. The position for the Professional Development Manager was still open and Steph actively pursued applying for the position after she moved to Abilene in April, as it was a great fit for her skillsets and interests.

Steph enjoys working with college students because it’s such a formative period in their lives. “College students’ development happens across so many important domains and critical time frames in life. It is empowering to know that you can guide, coach, teach, and shape this development from a supportive position in their lives and know that you helped them on an aspect of their journey.”

When she’s not working, you’ll most likely find Steph enjoying the outdoors. “Growing up in Union, MO I lived in an area north of the Ozarks full of river convergences where rafting, canoeing, camping, hiking, and exploring were our chosen recreational pursuits. I enjoy service to people and community. If given time, you will find me serving our environment on clean ups like the one I recently did with volunteers at Abilene State Park. I am a dog lover and adopt senior dogs, as they are a pet population that are often overlooked. I enjoy mentoring youth and exposing kids to the outdoor opportunities that can restore them. I also enjoy doing small random acts of kindness. Listening to others’ passions and interests and fulfilling them with small tokens of kindness that match those passions and interests is fun for me. “

Students and new co-workers might be surprised to learn that Steph is a twin. “I have a twin brother named Roger and have two other brothers who are twins, as well (Barry and Brad).  I come from a family of seven kids and at 6’2” I am the third SHORTEST in my family. My dream is to thru-hike the AT (Appalachian Trail), a 2,200 trail that runs from Georgia to Maine.”

As a competitive person, Steph has lofty goals and ambitions for her new job. “I want to be an effective Professional Development Manager for our students. I want to help them identify their career strengths, empower them to set and work toward their career goals, and help them gain opportunities as a result of their work. I want students to walk out of my office stronger and more confident in their professional identities than when they walked in.”

Throwback Thursday with Dr. Sarah Easter

Assistant Professor of Management, Dr. Sarah Easter (’06) may be in front of the classroom teaching today, but not too long ago she was a student at ACU. In fact, she was a very involved student, participating in Beta Gamma Sigma, SHRM, Leadership Summit, Phi Eta Sigma, Spring Break campaigns, Alpha Kai Omega, Wildcat Week, and was named to Who’s Who and as a University Scholar. She’s got great advice for current students as she reflects on her time at ACU.

 

What was your best memory from college?

I had a wonderful group of friends as a student at ACU and I have so many fond memories from these years in Abilene – from movie nights complete with a jumbo Tron and stadium style seating in friends’ living rooms to themed parties to playing ultimate Frisbee followed by ice cream club. This was a fun and joyous time and my college friends and I still reflect fondly on our fun memories together.

 

What is your best advice for college students?

Enjoy the present journey. It passes by all too quickly!

 

What do you wish you could tell your college self today?

This relates to my advice for college students today above – I tend to be a planner (which can also correspond with being a worrier). I wish I would have learned to be more content in the present and enjoy right where God had placed me in Abilene as a college student rather than continually thinking about what was next after college.

 

Dennis Marquardt Hits an Academic Triple

It’s been quite a summer for Assistant Professor of Management, Dr. Dennis Marquardt. Marquardt was

Dr. Dennis Marquardt

voted as ACU’s 2019 Teacher of the Year in May, a prestigious honor as faculty member nominees are submitted by students, and he was named as the new Director for the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership, succeeding founding Director, Dr. Rick Lytle. Dennis was also part of an award winning research team whose paper received recognition at the Academy of Management Conference in August in Boston, MA. The annual conference features over 10,000 management scholars from universities across the globe. We asked him to reflect on the awards, his new position, and what his plans are for the year ahead.

ACU’s Teacher of the Year award came as a surprise for Marquardt, who is deeply humbled, grateful and thankful for the honor. “When it was announced in the first graduation service, it took a little while for it to even register that they were talking about me.  Since there are so many teaching giants at ACU that I deeply admire and respect, I really never thought I would get such an award.” When asked what drives his teaching, Marquardt explained, “It’s a sacred trust when a student comes into my classroom; something I try never to take for granted.  Students are often told that the best way for me to show that I care for them is to maintain the highest of expectations for each of them. I want them to wrestle with tough questions, be exposed to new ideas, and be better equipped as a person than they were before coming to class. While learning is always a chief priority, the thing I care most deeply about as a professor is who my students are becoming as people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, ‘intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.’ I couldn’t agree more.”

Marquardt teaching at Leadership Summit

Marquardt’s passion for teaching students is evident in his classroom on the ACU campus and in his sessions at Leadership Summit, where he has served as a faculty member and mentor for the last four years. He’s also been involved with Lytle Center weekly chapels and a weekly morning men’s Bible Study that was born from Leadership Summit attendees asking Dennis and Tim Johnston to bring more of the lessons from the mountain to Abilene. Moving into the role of Director for the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership is a natural fit for Marquardt. The Lytle Center is new to many people and Dennis looks forward to spreading the word about the mission of the Center. “Our slogan is: ‘Serving God in the Workplace, Serving the Workplace for God’. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, we believe our calling is to be leaders who influence others for the advancement of the kingdom of God (where hope, peace, and life abound). Because of this, we want the students, alumni, and faculty that we serve to be skilled and capable leaders. This means they can effectively promote a vision, drive change, resolve conflict, build teams, make decisions, and empower others. As highly capable leaders, our students and alumni become effective at the work they do and influential in the environments they operate in. We emphasize in the workplace since work is something we were all designed by God to do. The workplace is also a place of unique community, a unifier of sorts. Nearly everyone at some point in their life will engage in formal work. We work with and for people from all walks of life and backgrounds. While few go to church, nearly all go to work. If the world desires hope, peace, and life then the workplace is a great place to bring it”.

Dr. Marquardt is excited about the opportunity to continue and broaden the work of the Lytle Center. He

Dennis and his wife, Monique

has clear goals and a vision for where he would like to take the Center in the coming years. “The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership exists to promote hope, peace, and life in the workplace. We do this by introducing individuals to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and equipping them with cutting edge leadership competencies, so that they can be effective servant leaders in the workplace. That’s what coupling faith and leadership means to us.”

Dennis knows that this bold vision will come with some challenges, knowing that the most difficult challenge is in measuring the outcomes of the work done through the Center. “What we are really trying to do is promote spiritual leadership transformation and that requires a consistent commitment to character forming habits and behaviors over time. While we definitely want to inspire, inspiration holds limited power to change. Change requires building authentic relationships, having courageous conversations, and a lot of patience.”

Marquardt is very excited about adding more co-curricular options for students to learn important leadership competencies such as conflict resolution, time management, and ethics.  He’s also looking forward to learning about and partnering with the “many great leaders across campus who are already doing great work in leadership development.”

Along with being a great teacher and mentor, Marquardt is proving that he is a strong researcher. A research project that he was invited to be a part of a several years ago by his doctoral advisor, Dr. Wendy Casper, was recently recognized at the Academy of Management Conference. He says, “This award is really a testament to the leadership and brilliance of my co-authors. I was fortunate enough to be invited onto this project by Dr. Casper. Our first author and tireless leader on the paper was Dr. Sabrina Volpone at the University of Colorado Boulder. Also, Dr. Derek Avery from Wake Forest University, a legend in management and diversity research, was a co-author. I learned so much from each of them and it was a great privilege to be a part of this meaningful work.”

The research team accepts the award at the conference – sans Marquardt who was not able to attend.

The team’s paper received recognition at the conference on August 14th in Boston, MA. The annual conference featured over 10,000 management scholars from universities across the globe. “Our author team is deeply honored that our paper was selected to receive the International HRM Scholarly Research Award, given annually to the most significant article published in international human resource management in the prior year (2018). This is awarded by the Human Resource Division of the Academy of Management. The conference theme this year is, Understanding the Inclusive Organization, which the findings of our paper fit well with.”

We asked Dr. Marquardt to summarize the paper for our readers. “We began our research with the question: Do individuals who grow up as a minority in their home country gain unique skills and abilities that might make them more effective as expatriate workers living in a host country? By analyzing the experiences of international students studying in the United States, we found that the more varied minority experiences people had in their home country positively related to more rapid acculturation as they studied in the U.S. This more rapid acculturation then related to higher levels of psychological well-being and lower intentions to leave the United States. We found that these relationships were influenced by cultural intelligence and the perceived diversity climate of the university. Overall, the paper demonstrates that minorities bring unique strengths to organizations, specifically those working in international assignments. The paper was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and can be found by clicking here.

The topic was intriguing to Marquardt. “The richness of the minority experience has long been of interest to me. While there is a wealth of research on the challenges that minorities face, the unique strengths and abilities that minorities bring to the table because they have had to overcome those challenges are less well understood. It is my hope that our research helps shed some light in this area.”

Dennis hopes that students and those in the workplace can make applications from the team’s findings now. “Our students are entering a workplace that is more globally minded than ever. David Livermore in his book, Leading with Cultural Intelligence, indicates that ‘Ninety percent of leading executives from sixty-eight countries identified cross-cultural leadership as the top management challenge for the next century.’ Our research demonstrates three significant resources worth considering when working and leading cross-culturally. The first is an understanding that having a minority experience provides an individual with vital resources for navigating novel cultural contexts. The second is the value of developing cultural intelligence, a personal capability related to understanding other cultures and behaving appropriately in different cultural environments. The third is the importance of fostering an organizational diversity climate that values unique backgrounds and provides support for people from non-dominant groups. I think students will largely learn about the importance of these resources as they see them modeled in the way that professors engage their classrooms.”

Dr. Dennis Marquardt’s dedication inside and outside of the classroom is evidence of his own personal mission to serve and mentor students to help honor God and bless the world. Congratulations on a much-deserved summer of accolades, Dr. Marquardt!

Throwback Thursday with Dr. Laura Phillips: Even Your Professors Were Students Once

Dr. Laura (Cleek) Phillips and Dr. Mark Phillips at a Galaxy Spring Formal

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that the person teaching your class was once a student like you are today. But, it’s true. Whether they are ACU alumni or received their degree from another institution, our faculty and staff have walked much the same paths that our current students tread. They’ve worried about midterms, finals, and dating. They’ve complained about curfews, Bean food and chapel credit. We thought it would be fun to highlight and share some of their memories of college life over the next few weeks. This week our blog features Dr. Laura Phillips (’88). She and her husband, Dr. Mark Phillips (’88), typically teach on our campus during the school year, will be teaching business classes this fall in our Study Abroad program in Leipzig, Germany. We hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane and the pictures that they shared with us.

p.s. I think I (M.C.) was one of the freshman involved in the colored water gun Capture the Flag game mentioned below…I remember being very pink, red, and blue afterward and have a picture somewhere that proves it. Thank you, Laura Phillips, for a fun memory. And sorry you had to bleach the steps of the Ad Building.

What was your best memory from college?

That’s a hard question. Some of my more memorable experiences include:

  • The time I planned a campus-wide party in Bennett Gym featuring student bands, Southern food, and casino tables. To decorate I hung metallic streamers from the ceiling by attaching them to helium balloons. It looked super cool. We had some trouble with power outages throughout the evening. I attributed them to the bands overtaxing the very old Bennett electrical systems. We learned, when the police arrived at the party, that the outages were actually caused by the balloons slipping through the open windows near the ceiling and shorting power lines all around the north side of Abilene. Apparently, we knocked out the computers on campus, the traffic lights in the area, and who knows what else. Oops.
  • The time I planned a Capture the Flag game for Welcome Week that used water guns and colored

    Mark and Laura at Galaxy Grub

    water. Each team had its own color. I used a LOT of dye to make sure that you could see the evidence when someone got shot. Unfortunately, the dye was so strong that it colored the front of the Ad Building as well as the steps, meaning that I spent a few hours after the game bleaching the front of the Ad Building and the steps. Oops.

  • The time I planned a HUGE pizza party in the double gym for all of the Sing Song participants. I ordered the pizza from the Bean because it normally was pretty good. In this case, it was truly terrible and the students responded by using it in a gym-wide food fight. Fortunately, the gym floors were covered with brown paper so no actual damage was done. The pizza was so bad that the Bean actually acknowledged its pathetic-ness and provided snow cones for everyone on campus later that semester.

What is your best advice for college students?

You have your whole life to be an adult and you can have many different careers. Don’t rush through

everything. Take time to do memorable things. Share experiences with the people around you. Do something weird. Definitely do what you need to do to get a job but don’t worry so much about starting out in the perfect job.

What do you wish you could tell your college self today?

I would tell my college self the very things I listed in #2.