Meet Jonathan Rugamba, one of our newest COBA alumni. Jonathan graduated on Saturday, May 12th, with a double major in accounting and finance. After graduation, he will be returning to his hometown of Kigali, Rwanda. His goal is to build up an equity firm within the next 10 years through which he can channel as many job opportunities as possible for the people of Rwanda.
Rugamba will be creating the start-up with a team of 5 of his “fellows” back home. Three of the team members build software and the other teammates will work to find clients to purchase the software. He said the start-up is still struggling to get off the ground but they hope for the best in the future. When asked how being a Christian will mold his work with co-workers and clients, Jonathan said that “I think most of my Christian values of love and unity will be vital in forming a strong team bond.”
When asked how the education and experiences at ACU and in COBA have helped him prepare for life after graduation, Jonathan stated, “Future is always the future, we can only guess at what it truly holds. We may feel prepared but we can’t certainly be sure. However, I have really gained a lot of knowledge, and that is the best preparation in my opinion. Knowledge never expires but grows.” One of Rugamba’s favorite experiences while in COBA was his time in STAR (the Student Trading and Research class) because it most mimicked the reality of the business world.
Rugamba’s advice to current students who want to follow this same type of work is to find your strength and remember that this is a never-ending journey. He advises incoming freshmen to “Have an end-in-mind, work towards it, love people and try to find the best in them. However, you are the best judge for yourself so the challenge lies in your hands. And above all strive to make sure that one day you will live your dream.”
Graduation is only a few days away and it’s the time of year we sadly say goodbye to our graduating seniors. We are proud of our students and we’d like to introduce you to a few of them on this blog, letting you know how their time at ACU has molded them, where they are headed after graduation, and what advice they have for the new freshmen class coming in the fall.
Allie Cawyer, Marketing major from Plano, Texas
After graduation, I will be moving back to Dallas and hoping to work in the corporate event industry.
For the last year, I have been working with University Events here at ACU and it has only made me more excited to pursue events full time. So, getting to actually do events all the time and working in that position is making me excited for graduation. Plus, no event is the same so I will not have to worry about doing the same thing every day.
My favorite ACU memory was probably when I studied abroad two summers ago. The experience was unlike any other and I not only learned about all of the other cultures but also about myself.
My favorite class was Leadership Summit because I got credit for taking a class in the mountains of Colorado, but the takeaway was much more than just the credit hours. So many people poured into us during that week with life lessons, truth and God’s word that nothing can compare to it.
My advice would be to be as involved as you can within your department, no matter what it may be. Get to know not only your classmates but also your professors because they truly care about you and your life. Start it early on, so that you get the full experience all four years.
Steven Yang, English major and COBA Student Worker from Chiang Rai, Thailand
After graduation, I am going to Regent University of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I am excited to be done with my undergrad and be able to travel home and see my family in Thailand.
Steven (tan jacket in the middle) and friends hiking over Spring Break.
My favorite memory at ACU is climbing different buildings, having game nights, and biking around Abilene.
My favorite class was Literature for Young Adults because reading stories from this class connects me to my past and helps me find my identity.
I would tell incoming freshmen to work hard
but never lose the ability to see the silver-lining in life. Life is too short and too hard to not be happy.
Katie Isham, Accounting major from Decatur, Texas
After graduation, I plan to work at PwC in Dallas as an Audit Associate. I’m most excited to go out and use the skills and knowledge I’ve learned throughout college to bless others. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I know that God has big plans- I’m just glad to be a part of them!
My favorite ACU memory…. hmmm. There’s not a certain memory that sticks out to me, rather my favorite thing about ACU is the people. Finding and creating friendships with diverse people who have the same aim, to love the Lord by loving others, has been instrumental in making me who I am.
My advice to incoming freshmen is don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. You’ll regret the opportunities you didn’t take and the friends you didn’t make. Keep your relationship with the Lord your main priority and join a church and Bible study right away! Regardless of what happens in your next four years, know that God so loved you that he sent his son to die for you as an atonement for your sins, so that through GRACE you are saved, not by your own works. Give all the glory to God!
Jack Oduro, Accounting major from Garland, Texas
After graduation, I am going to take a missional focused trip to Ghana for
the summer. Then, I begin getting ready for my full time job with Weaver & Tidwell LLP in Dallas. I am excited about graduation and grateful that all of my family is in one place for the first time in two years.
My favorite ACU memory is…truly, any time I got to spend time with the people at this school was inspiring. Some of my best moments may include late night strolls around campus and potential trespassing with life-long friends, friendships which began here.
My favorite classes were Social Entrepreneurship with Laura Philips and Leadership Summit with the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership. They are both up there in the extraordinary classes category. They both live up to ACU’s commitment of creating leaders for Christian service around the world.
My advice for the fishy is to seek to genuinely serve others because big changes start with the little acts of service.
Congratulations to the class of 2018! As Minor Meyers said, “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
Each year, COBA inducts new members into the ACU Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society serving business programs accredited by AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). Membership in BGS is the highest recognition a business student can receive in an AACSB accredited business program and a student must be in the top 10% in order to be asked to join the organization.
Last month, at a luncheon in their honor, COBA welcomed 34 new members to the chapter. Current BGS officers and faculty encouraged the new members to continue to learn and lead with integrity, honor, and commitment to excellence and asked them to be active participating members in the ACU Chapter, helping to further advance the mission of the College of Business Administration.
Dr. Andy Little, Associate Dean for COBA, said, “Beta Gamma Sigma is COBA’s academic honors society for business majors. It is an important recognition for these students, because it is an invitation-only organization, and membership signifies hard work, dedication, intelligence, and commitment. Within the organization, at ACU we emphasize honor, wisdom, and earnestness. The students complete service projects during the year, as well as other activities.”
Membership in Beta Gamma Sigma provides many benefits, including educational and professional opportunities to support members on campus and throughout their professional lives. Click here to learn more about Beta Gamma Sigma. Congratulations to our newest BGS members!
2018 Beta Gamma Sigma Inductees are:
COBA donors, scholarship recipients, Dean’s Council, and faculty and staff gathered on Thursday, March 22nd, at the annual Ruth Allen Griggs Scholarship Luncheon. The luncheon, inspired by the memory of the hospitable Ruth Allen Griggs, seeks to honor the spirit of generosity and to encourage others to give back. Each table was buzzing with discussion as students, donors, and faculty members conversed about their experiences at ACU and why giving is so important.
Ann Griggs, Ann Berger Griggs, and Jack Griggs
Students Anna Hornell, junior management major from Fort Worth, TX, and Darius Bell, senior computer science major from Frisco, TX, represented students who have received COBA scholarships, speaking to the audience about what receiving those scholarships has meant to them and the impact that it has had on their education and experiences at ACU.
Anna Hornell, junior management major from Fort Worth, TX
Anna said, “The Ruth Allen Griggs Luncheon was such an amazing opportunity for students and donors to meet! It was a time for students to express gratitude to those who allowed them enriching and even life- changing opportunities and to be inspired to generosity both now and in the future. I am hopeful that donors enjoyed connecting with students and hearing about the experiences that they have blessed them with.”
Darius Bell, senior computer science major from Frisco, TX
Darius said, “Giving back creates a thread that binds us all together. Although it is not always easy or convenient, it gives birth to community, community gives birth to a culture, and a culture gives birth to a lasting hope. Receiving this scholarship from the College of Business Administration revealed to me that ACU’s mission and vision extends past the plaques the name is written on and actually lives within the hearts and lives of the donors.”
Gary Skidmore, guest speaker, talks about the importance of giving
Gary Skidmore, Chairman of Aberdeen, member of the COBA Dean’s Council, and former ACU Board Trustee spoke to the crowd, relaying a story Dr. Condoleezza Rice tells about her grandfather. “She said that when her grandfather went to college, he paid for his first year in cotton. His sophomore year, he was asked how he would pay for school and he said, ‘I am out of cotton,’ so they said, ‘You are out of luck.’ He asked how the other boys were going to pay. They said, ‘They have what is called a scholarship and if you wanted to be a Presbyterian minister, you could have a scholarship, too.’ My grandfather said, ‘That is exactly what I had in mind.’ Dr. Rice stated that ‘My family has been Presbyterian and college educated ever since. That access to education changed everything. Not just for him, but for generations to come.” Skidmore noted that because of her family’s legacy of education, Condoleezza Rice has gone on to become both a Professor and Provost at Stanford University, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State. He went on to say, “We’ve all likely received some sort of scholarship” citing statistics that 75% of all college students receive some sort of financial aid and that scholarships are one way we model what Jesus taught us as Christians – to help others. He stated, “We don’t know what will happen if someone is enabled to attend ACU…how their life will be changed. I know I don’t want to learn someday, if only someone had given, cancer would have been cured. In giving, both the giver and the receiver benefit.”
Dean Brad Crisp summed the event up by saying, “The Griggs Luncheon is a favorite event of mine because of the way it reflects and underscores our values. As COBA updates our guiding statements to describe our deeply held values, we are emphasizing how our Christian faith leads us to gratitude and generosity. This event allows our students to express their gratitude for the generosity of our donors.”
Dr. Brad Crisp
The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership Development is an emerging organization within COBA. The mission of the Lytle Center is to challenge individuals to wholeheartedly follow Christ, equipping them to be leaders of integrity at home, work and in their community. The Lytle Center holds weekly chapel for students, with guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds who come speak to students about the ways in which they enact their faith in their leadership roles and how students can do the same. This semester, Lytle Center Chapel has had the pleasure of welcoming guests like Anthony Williams, the mayor of Abilene, who encouraged students to have the courage to get out of their comfort zones and face the issues before them in order to lead well.
Students have enjoyed learning from community leaders and being able to participate in the founding and forming of the Lytle Center. A student-run Advisory Board meets once a month to talk about the progress of the Lytle Center, to brainstorm new ideas, and to strategize how goals for the Center can be reached. We think that the student involvement is key; their help in structuring the center is essential to establishing the value and utility students will receive by involvement. The Lytle Center wants students of all majors – not just business – to become involved. A significant part of the foundation and forming of the Lytle Center has focused on how leadership extends beyond the business world. The Lytle Center believes that all students, regardless of major or career path, need to have the tools to lead in an effective, Christ-like manner. We look forward to seeing increased participation with students all over ACU’s campus.
The Lytle Center has become the point organization for many of COBA’s pre-existing leadership programs, uniting them under one body. Now in its 20th year, Leadership Summit is being planned within the Lytle Center, with guests like 2014 Time Person of the Year, Kent Brantley and President of Kellogg U.S. Specialty Channels, Wendy Davidson, scheduled to speak at the January short-course held in Colorado. Additionally, the Lytle Center is home to the Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings in Fortune 500 executives from around the country to speak to students about Christian business leadership perspectives they have learned through trial and error in their own careers.
The Lytle Center is working to form small groups for students who are interested in being mentored by older peers and ACU faculty and staff. The center is also working with churches around the city of Abilene to get students more involved in college ministries. The Lytle Center is in the early stages of exploring and planning a week-long service project for Spring Break to South Texas to help relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The service trip will be open for all students to participate.
We are excited to see what the Lytle Center will become and where it will take our students. We envision a new generation of leaders coming forth from involvement with the Lytle Center who rely on their faith to be effective in their communities. Keep up to date with the Lytle Center as it grows and develops by liking the Facebook page and watch for events like Leadership Summit and Distinguished Speaker Series for a chance to get involved. You can learn more by going to their blog: http://blogs.acu.edu/lytlecenter/
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Casey McMullin is a senior financial management major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This summer, Casey traveled around the world interning and studying abroad. He visited countries in Africa and Asia. Casey returned to Abilene with a changed perspective, new skills, and many stories.
Q: Where did you go and what did you do in Africa?
A: I went to Arusha, Tanzania. It was two hours from Mt. Kilimanjaro, which was amazing to see every morning when we woke up. We were based at Neema Village, where they house 40 babies and at-risk or abandoned children. I helped start a microfinance program so that local mothers can start businesses for additional income.
Casey with children in Neema Village
Casey with a child in Tanzania.
Q: Did working with microfinance in Tanzania change your perspective on business?
A: I think that the most challenging part was the difference between Tanzanian and American business and legal environments. When we were building the microfinance program, we had to do everything in accordance with American not-for-profit laws and Tanzanian laws so that they could get loans. A better understanding of business law would have helped.
The nature of business was very different in Tanzania. It was very simple. I had to go back to the foundations and teach the locals so that they could understand what we were doing. At the same time, I had to maintain the financial complexities I had learned so as to ensure that the program would function properly and long past our departure.
Q: What was the most impactful interaction you had with a local?
A: I think that the coolest thing that happened to me happened at the very end of our time in Africa. We only did one test run of a business since it took a long time to set up. We were working with a woman who started a chicken business. We helped her get funding for a bigger coop, food, and medicine for the chickens. On our last day, we were saying goodbye and hugging her. She gave us eggs and then ran to chop down her whole sugar cane. We told her not to, but she cut it down regardless and gave it to us as a thank you.
Casey and Lexi Koon, junior, with the woman who started a chicken business.
Casey with the sugar cane that the woman gave in gratitude.
Q: Where did you go and what did you do in China?
A: We were based in Shanghai and also traveled to Beijing and Hong Kong on the weekends. I took a crash course in basic principles of entrepreneurship and Chinese principles of entrepreneurship. We examined
Casey sitting on the Great Wall of China.
the different opportunities to and ways of starting a company in China, visited start-ups, and talked with a number of entrepreneurs, both natives, and expatriates.
Q: What was different about studying business in another country?
A: One thing that struck me was the sheer size of China. The massive populations changed the way they did business in ways I didn’t think about. It was also interesting to see similar priorities between us as well as what each country values more. For example, the Chinese emphasize education starting at a young age and it was interesting to see how that affected business and the way people were.
Q: Did you have a big culture shock moment?
A: Oh yeah. After spending 8 weeks in Africa where there are no Chinese people, we were shocked as soon as we stepped off the plane. There were so many people walking around and they all seemed so busy. There was a class of 30 kids running around and yelling at each other in Chinese and the only thing we could think was “we are in China.”
Nicholas Weirzbach, Steven Yang, Dr. Andrew Little, Casey, and Jack Oduro smile in front of the Forbidden City.
Q: Compared to interning, how was study abroad different when it came to cultural immersion?
A: In Africa, I felt like I needed to immerse myself a lot more. I think that this was because I was there to help other people rather than studying for my own benefit. Being there for others drove me to learn the language and immerse myself more since I was not there for myself.
Q: Overall, what was your biggest takeaway from this summer?
A: Take any risk. This summer, I saw just how much people live with nothing. I think that the fear of losing something can hold people back, but that is a mindset that you just can’t live with. You should be doing what you love. Look for an outcome rather than a consequence.