Ifechi Akaniru, Marketing and Finance

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Ifechi Akaniru

When Ifechi Akaniru’s father immigrated from Nigeria to America, he worked blue-collar jobs to sustain himself and pay for school. While others were preparing for graduation, he was in a taxicab driving his classmates to ceremonies to pay his tuition. Stories of his cabbie service taught Akaniru the importance of perseverance, hard work, and steadfast resolve. They also fueled her drive to win scholarships so that she would not add to his burden.

She has been successful in that endeavor, earning seven prestigious scholarships. One of them, from USF benefactor Lynn Pippenger, helped her build a personal relationship with the woman who helped build Raymond James. As a result, Akaniru has interned at Raymond James twice, gaining analytical, organizational, and networking skills.  More

Isabela Castrillon, Business Economics

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Isabella Castrillon

Isabela Castrillon recalls overhearing conversations between parents and their freshman children on college move-in day.  She eavesdropped as a mother reminisced about a professor who changed her world view and a father remembered how he and his friends founded a fraternity in college. Castrillon says she stood in nervous silence with her mom.  Arriving on campus, she knew she could handle the academic rigor, but being the first person in her family to attend college, she was aware that she didn’t necessarily have the guidance she would need in order to succeed.

Castrillon made a concerted effort to find mentors and to attend networking events – even if she wasn’t sure how it would benefit her in the short-term.  She joined the Corporate Mentor Program and was encouraged by the program director to attend a career fair. More

Katelyn Chin, Marketing and Supply Chain Management

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Katelyn Chin

Early in her first year at USF, Katelyn Chin did something few freshman do.  She visited the USF Career Center and began building relationships with its career counselors.  She took advantage of its personal and professional development programs and got a head start on her career development plan.  One of the lessons she learned:  USF has many outstanding students and the most successful ones do more than just make good grades – they stand out from their peers.  And she decided she was going to stand out.

She started by joining the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, a professional student-led organization that has given more opportunities than she could have ever dreamed. Not only has the organization given her lifelong friends and networks, but it also gave her More

Jennifer Cohen, Finance and Marketing

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Jennifer Cohen

When Jennifer Cohen’s family moved to America, her parents relied on her as they grew their franchise business with Börner Germany, a company that produces kitchen tools.   Though just 14 years old, she spoke English better than her parents and she would often help translate.  She often found herself handling clerical tasks alongside her parents.  She soon became intricately involved in the business, processing large orders, meeting with CEOs, reconciling statements, and handling customer service tasks.  Today, she helps manage the UAE franchise of the business.  

This isn’t her only business experience.  Cohen has held additional part-time retail jobs while in college and served as an aftercare counselor in an elementary school.  Why? Because she doesn’t like to have too much time on her hands!   More

Laura Del Castillo, Finance and MIS

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From an early age, Laura Del Castillo took school seriously and had a competitive nature when it came to achieving her dreams. Throughout high school and continuing into her college career, Del Castillo learned that it is not enough to just get good grades; you have to get quality experience as well.

Within the first week of working as a full-time intern at JPMorgan, Del Castillo impressed her manager with her strong work ethic. She led her team to first place in the JPMorgan expo competition, in which 10 team members compete to create a product or service that adds value to the company.  Working with JPMorgan helped her to grow not only professionally, but also as a student, as it led her to pursue a second degree in management information systems. More

Nicole DeNicola, Management Information Systems

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Nicole DeNicola

After losing her father at the age of 7, Nicole DeNicola coped with the tragedy by focusing her attention on school. That focus eventually led to an invitation for her to be part of USF’s Bulls Business Community, a living-learning program for high achieving incoming freshmen.  She participated in nearly every BBC workshop and extracurricular learning opportunity and says that this is where she developed the networking skills that have helped her in so many areas – and even led to an invitation for her to give a speech about her USF experiences before 300+ people at a scholarship luncheon.  During her speech, Nicole noted that her father never had the opportunity to attend college, and said that she aims to honor his memory – and make her mother proud – by excelling academically.  The USF Honors College student has clearly done so, earning a spot on the dean’s list for the past five semesters and travelling with the Honors College to study in London and Paris. More

Duane Driskell, Accounting

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Duane Driskell

Although his family struggled financially growing up – his family of six lived in a two-bedroom apartment – Duane Driskell says he was determined  to overcome the adversity that comes with poverty.  And, thanks to his mother’s strong emphasis on school, he knew that it started with college.  So he worked hard in high school and was able to come to USF as part of the invitation-only Bulls Business Community.  He was also able to gain early admission to the business school and be part of the Business Honors Program, which means he will take extra research courses and requires him to earn high grades and complete as honors thesis.  The work is hard, but Driskell is determined to succeed.  

Driskell says that the choice to be part of these two groups has lead him to dream, introducing him to things he was completely naïve to before, such as  internships, study abroad opportunities, and the importance of networking.   More

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