Student Internship Spotlight on Zach Jennings

Zach Jennings

Zach Jennings is a Management major from Abilene, Texas and graduated in December 2019. Zach interned with Edward Jones this last summer. “I learned the basics of what it takes to be a financial advisor. I got to work with other offices and two other interns in town. There were about 200 interns nationwide, so having even one intern in Abilene was awesome, but we had three!”

As Zach prepared for graduation, he also prepared to begin work with Edward Jones as a financial advisor. He says, “I believe my time at ACU helped me find out what I wanted to do moving forward. Not only did it prepare me for my future career, but I grew so much in my relationship with God because of the wonderful people here.” Zach found that he wanted a career with Edward Jones after his experience as an intern and is looking forward to the great opportunities laid before him. 

Zach enjoyed his college career at ACU. We asked him what his favorite thing about being a part of COBA was and how the environment influenced his growth throughout his time here. “My favorite thing about COBA was attending Leadership Summit. I grew a lot in the Lord and made so many good friendships as well. It was a refreshing and soul-quenching experience. I would say that ACU offers not only some of the best education programs out there, but what makes ACU great is the community. You actually get to know your professors and you’ll realize they want to get to know you too. The community of ACU is welcoming, inclusive and Christ-like. The people here are what sets ACU apart from the rest.”

Helping students find how their gifts and talents can be used for God in the workplace is something COBA is passionate about. For those students who aren’t sure what career path they want to take, COBA and ACU provide exploration through the COBA Edge professional development program and the guidance offered at the Career Center. To learn more about the COBA Edge program, students can email Steph Brown at srb19c@acu.edu. Students can also learn more about internships, interviewing, and career search information by reading the COBA student newsletter, looking through Handshake, or contacting Steph Brown or the ACU Career Center. 

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.

 

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.

 

Alumni Spotlight on Kelly Lytle

Kelly Lytle

Kelly Jeanne Lytle (’12) is flying high these days. Graduating with a B.B.A. degree in marketing from ACU and a M.B.A. from the University of North Texas, Kelly is using her marketing talents and customer service experience to bring extraordinary customer service at the next level at her position with American Airlines as a Senior Analyst for their Premium Guest Services.  Customer service runs in the family. Kelly is the daughter of former Dean and Professor of Marketing, Dr. Rick Lytle and his wife, Jeanne. Dr. Lytle is known for his expertise in the area.

After graduating from ACU, Kelly worked as a Wilberforce Intern with Grace Nelson in Washington, D.C., as an Associate Marketing Manager at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, and then as a Business Development and Loyalty Program Account Manager at American Airlines in DFW. All of these experiences have helped shape her work ethic, her ideas, and her faith.

Kelly’s faith in the workplace is important to her. She says that she strives to use faith as the lens that she views all of her decisions, interactions, and the words with which she speaks. She says, “It is the hope I cling to and the rock I stand on. I know that sounds cliché, but in this environment with a politically charged climate, I have to remember who has the final say and who I am ultimately accountable to.”

Young alums often acknowledge the stark difference in their working environment vs. the environment at ACU. Kelly’s experience has been no different. “Leaving the world of ‘hugs and smiles’ at ACU is vastly different in the workplace. You begin to transition to handshakes and learning how to work without constant compliments and reassurance. However, you bring that mentality into your interactions in a professional way and learn that at the end of the day everyone has a story and is human. Give grace to those around you because you don’t know what they may be going through.”

Kelly hosts ACU AMA students

We asked her if she felt she had faced any challenges as a young female in the workplace and if so, what advice she has for other young alums who will likely experience many of the same issues. Kelly said that working with other females has been the most challenging. “I would encourage everyone to stay out of workplace drama. If they are talking to you about others, they are talking to others about you. Try to use your words to build others up, use your time at work to get your tasks done with excellence, assume the best of each other, and don’t rely too heavily on affirmation from your boss or other female leaders. Make sure and keep a healthy line between personal and professional conversation until you feel like that relationship welcomes it and is a trusted confidant.”

Kelly’s time at ACU helped shape the person that she is today. “I wouldn’t trade my time at ACU for anything. Business professors like Dr. Lytle, Dr. Pope, Dr. Phillips, Ms. Brister, and many others taught me that the marketplace is our mission field as business professionals. It is easy to think that because you aren’t a missionary, a pastor, a youth minister, etc., that you do not have a direct impact on the kingdom, but that’s wrong! We have the opportunity to be an influence to everyone we come into contact with that may not go to church. In the gospel of Matthew, we can see Jesus teaching in towns, synagogues, houses, grain fields, boats, and temple courts to name a few. All that to say, I realized at ACU that the marketplace is my mission field and to be excited about the work/people that God can touch through me! What a cool thing!”

Some of Kelly’s favorite ACU memories revolve around being a member of Sigma Theta Chi, participating in Homecoming, playing in rivalry intramural games, and pledging. When asked who her favorite ACU professor was, the answer should not surprise anyone that knows her. “I have to say Dr. Lytle was my favorite professor….I am a little biased ! I was very nervous to have my Dad as the Dean and try to impress all his friends (all my business professors), but I am so thankful I did. I want to be like my Dad when I grow up; making the work environment fun, developing strategy for hard to solve problems, being able to craft a vision for the future, and making his personal interactions count. Like my Dad, I want to leave people feeling special after they talk with me, bringing energy into the room, having an easy laughter that’s contagious, and ultimately seeking God in everything – in the good times and bad. Obviously, I could go on and on, but this man has changed me for eternity and I am so blessed to have learned from him at ACU and every day.”

Kelly advises current students to, “Listen to your professors and ask them questions. They literally have dedicated their life to teach you, so they care a lot and want to help! At ACU, it is super unique in the fact that they want to invest in you, so invite them to your intramural games, go eat at their homes, and sit with them in chapel. I would also encourage you to learn more about how to read through legal contracts and write creative briefs; ask your professors about this and they would be happy to help you. Lastly, for interviews, dress business professional and arrive early; set up a practice run with your professors or Tim Johnston or the Career Center for free coaching.”

She advises incoming freshmen to, “Have fun, buckle up, and cling to friends that seek God in public and private (they may be your best friends for life). Be thankful to whoever is paying for your education or has granted you scholarships. Get involved. Get sleep. Dig deep into Jesus Christ and the opportunities in front of you to learn about him (chapel, bible class, World’s Backyard, Meals on Wheels, etc.).”

Kelly also advises students to use at least one summer for a professional internship and one to spend time in something that creates memories, helps you grow, and that you enjoy. “I was able to work at T Bar M Summer Camps for one summer and then PFSweb for the second summer. Also, study abroad and go to Leadership Summit! I dare you. You won’t be disappointed if your heart is in the right place.”

*The comments mentioned in this blog reflect the beliefs of the interviewee and not those of the company.

The Return of the ACU AMA Chapter

Written by junior marketing and art major, Isabella Maradiaga

With over 30,000 members, the American Marketing Association (AMA) is “the essential community for marketers” that offers national conferences, events, and professional training. As marketing continues to play an integral role in the business world, the demand for a similar community has grown in educational institutions. For this reason, AMA now has 390 college chapters and 14,000 student members across North America. Students are joined in collegiate chapters by faculty and staff who share their passion to grow in their field. ACU’s College of Business Administration wishes for students to have the same opportunity to be a part of this association and has officially re-joined this professional association with our own student chapter.

Reagan Morgan (’08), Director of Marketing for PFSweb, discusses marketing and customer service with AMA members

Marketing majors have been looking for real-world experience in their field and the American Marketing Association (AMA) chapter is back on campus, looking to provide opportunities for students to learn and grow. A few years ago, this student organization was very popular for organizing events like branding workshops and working along with faculty to develop marketing plans for the annual AMA International Collegiate Conference where students traveled to join over 1,700 marketers in New Orleans. At this competition, students presented their marketing plans on a case study determined by AMA to compete with other universities. AMA also provided students with the opportunity to have hands-on experiences, participate in networking events, and meet professionals in their field. Last spring, the newly formed AMA officer team hit the ground running to launch the return of this organization. In April, a group of five students led by AMA sponsor and Enrollment & Student Development Manager, Lindsay Palmer, went on a field trip to visit companies PFSweb, LiveArea, and American Airlines. In visiting these organizations, students had the opportunity to learn about the internal procedures that lead to successful marketing decisions and to meet with ACU alumni who are currently serving marketing roles in these companies. Because of the time volunteered by our alums, our students were able to learn about different areas in their field, such as: digital channels, customer loyalty programs, global marketing, channel strategy and customer service.

AMA members meet with Kelly Lytle (’12), Senior Analyst for American Airlines Premium Guest Services

At their visit to the American Airlines office, students were briefed on all of the different loyalty and customer service programs that American Airlines offers as well as having the opportunity to visit the Admiral’s Club, where they were able to observe the importance of the smallest marketing decisions, including things like partnerships with hand soap and printer brands, and how those decisions impact the customer experience.

After such a significant networking and learning experience, AMA’s officer team is working on a plan to provide similar opportunities to all of its members. This student organization wants to encourage students from every major to consider the chance to set themselves apart in the marketplace, gain some digital marketing skills, and enjoy networking events with business professionals. AMA’s President, Kaman Turner, says, “Everyone should be a part of AMA, especially marketing majors. The vast network and real life experiences AMA provides is THE place for young professionals to grow and build their own brand; while also working with others to impact the community and make a difference right now.”

Make sure you check out the ACU student chapter for AMA this fall and start gaining some real-world experience! For questions, contact Lindsay Palmer at lindsay.palmer@acu.edu.

COBA is Saying Goodbye to Three Legends in the Classroom

The end of the academic year brings about the season of awards, recognition, and change whether it occurs in elementary school, high school, or college. While we celebrate our graduates and the next chapter of their lives, the College of Business Administration is not immune to transition, either. We are  saying farewell to three inspirational professors: Dr. Rob Byrd (Associate Professor of IT and Computing), Dr. Malcolm Coco (Professor of Human Resource Management), and Dr. Terry Pope (Professor of Finance) as they retire. Students, colleagues, friends and family joined to honor them at receptions on May 6th where tributes and well wishes were shared with each of the retiring professors.

Rob Byrd with SITC students Paula Berggren and Lauren Walker

Rob Byrd came to ACU in 2009 and was known for not only helping students dive deep into the world of Information Technology and Security, but also helping them develop a deeper faith and spiritual walk. Recent SITC graduate, Lauren Walker (’19) described Byrd as a passionate teacher who wanted to maximize students’ learning and push them to be their best selves. She said, “He never missed an opportunity to show us how the knowledge and skills we were gaining can transcend all areas of life. He never settled on just letting us ‘get by’ with our education. He constantly challenged us and pushed for excellence and innovation. As a mentor, he was a person who saw the best in his students. He wasn’t afraid to say the hard things, and encouraged us to go after the things in life we never thought we could achieve. ” Dr. Byrd baptized Lauren last October and she recounted that Byrd was “just simply himself”, never afraid to be transparent, witty, cynical, and show a genuine interest in his students. She said, “If anyone of us needed help with something school related, or even personal, it wasn’t a doubt that he was just one phone call or text away.”

Dr. Byrd

While some students might have been intimidated by a professor like Byrd, Walker said, “The last thing I guess I want to say is that like all of the SITC professors, Dr. Byrd is so special. Dr. Byrd is such a softy, but of course he would never say it. He has such a servant heart, and has touched so many students’ lives over the years, and of course I just happen to be one of them. He’s one of those professors I will end up telling my children stories about!”

Byrd is transitioning into a new career as Staff Technical Project Engineer with Collins Aerospace at their headquarters location in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said, “This position will be a challenging adventure for me-just what I was hoping for. Working at this level will allow me to be involved and responsible for both the design/development and the budgetary/systems aspects of the assigned projects and programs. The nature of the work will be classified, but will be in support of national defense and will draw from my education, experience and certifications. I thank my colleagues for their support.”

Coco with students Grace Smith and Dayle Hayes

Malcolm Coco arrived at ACU in 1989. Coco was well known for helping students find jobs through his internship class, mentoring students through Human Resource classes and the Student Chapter of the Human Resource Management organization, his love for the outdoors, and playing the Beach Boys loudly during office hours.

Coco said that when he came to ACU, he only intended to teach for 2 or 3 years and then planned to pursue a career as a pilot for an airlines. Thirty years later, he says, “I’m still teaching and enjoying every minute. Associating with great Christian faculty and staff and having the opportunity to shape young lives has been a blessing to me. I’m wondering where the 30 years went to!”

Dr. Coco with his family

When asked what the best advice he would offer to students would be, he encouraged students to be the best you that you can be. Always strive to be your bosses “go to” person, meaning when there is an important project with a short turn around and it needs to be done correctly, you want your boss to always think of  you as the person he or she trusts to get the job done. He said, “Winners make it happen and losers let it happen.”

To his colleagues, Coco said, “It has been a blessing to me to have the fortune of knowing so many God fearing, Christian faculty. Your example and support for me and my family for these past 30 years has been tremendous. Thanks for the memories.”

Retirement for Coco will be a mixed bag. He will continue to teach as an adjunct faculty member and will continue to manage the COBA internship program. Coco has no plans to slow down. He said, “My children and grandchildren all live in Abilene, so I’m planning for some serious grandchild time. Hobbies of hunting and fishing will continue. I have already joined several civic organizations and intend to do volunteer work for several non-profits.”

Pope with daughter Abby Pimentel and wife Gayla

When he wasn’t teaching a finance class like STAR (Student Trading and Research), you could find Terry Pope on the golf course, working on his new baseball podcast with Tim Johnston, or in his shop working on his next furniture project.

Terry Pope answered the call by Jack Griggs to come and teach at ACU in 1992. Pope said that teaching at ACU has been a great experience, “When I came to Abilene, having already worked for twenty-three years in industry and academics, I was thinking that I would teach for about fifteen years. However, teaching at ACU was so rewarding that I just kept showing up, year after year. ACU is a special place to our family, since Gayla and I, all three of our children, and three of our grandchildren have attended.  Our other six grandchildren will likely follow in these steps.” Pope went on to say that it’s been great to be a part of the ACU community.  He said, “I felt that everyone on campus strove for excellence in what they did and sought to be pleasing to God.  Being a part of that environment made me a better person.”

Terry, Gayla, Beth, and Don Pope

When asked if there was anything he’d like students to know, he said, without question that the favorite part of teaching at ACU was getting to know so many students.  Pope estimates that he has taught about four thousand students and tried to get to know each one of them saying, “I have many great friendships today with former students.  Every student was different – different backgrounds, different interests, and different personalities.  That diversity made our community better. I hope that I communicated to my students that being a Jesus follower comes before all else.  While I taught Finance, I said ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’.  Brilliance in Finance is not the main thing, but only a compliment to following Jesus.”

Pope said that his colleagues at ACU were great and continue to be his close friends.  He recounted, “I remember telling someone early in my career at ACU that I had underestimated the joy of being able to work daily in a Christian environment.  I felt a closeness and shared purpose with colleagues all over campus, even though we might not have been well acquainted. To all of these colleagues, I say ‘keep it going’.  Investment managers must communicate to their clients that ‘Past performance is no guarantee of future results.’  Every day is a new day that requires our best efforts and a continuing renewal of our minds.”

Pope plans on staying in Abilene and continuing to be closely connected to ACU while spending time playing more golf and tennis, doing more woodworking, taking piano, traveling, studying, and volunteering. “There are many more things that I will want to do that time will allow.”

Combined, the three educators have almost 75 years of experience teaching ACU students. Their dedication to students and peers as well as their example of excellence in the classroom and in their faith walks will truly be missed. The words “thank you” seem inadequate for what they have meant to the lives of thousands of students.

Click on the highlighted links below to view pictures and video messages in tribute to each of the retiring professors.

Pics from the retirement reception

Rob Byrd video

Malcolm Coco video

Terry Pope video