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Maryann Akinboyewa '14: How I Spent Spring Break 2014

Student Spotlight Series

Apr 8, 2014 | Article by: Sarah Scalese

Maryann meets the "POD"


Maryann Akinboyewa '14 was among the 13 students who participated in the ninth annual Winston Fisher Seminar, presented by The College of Arts and Sciences.  Akinboyewa, a senior pursuing a double major in marketing management and writing and rhetoric, penned the below blog post detailing her experiences. 

Spring break 2014 was nothing but the best. Instead of returning home to Maryland, I went to New York City with 14 other SU students to participate in the Winston Fisher Seminar. The program takes 12-15 SU students to N.Y.C. for six days and five nights over spring break for a series of one-hour conversations with fellow Arts and Sciences alumni to discuss how liberal arts degree prepares you for a career in various business industries. Admittedly, I felt apprehensive about the trip. I hadn’t seen my family since January and I began to wonder: Should I have just gone home? As soon as I got to the City, however, I immediately felt more comfortable as I quickly bonded with the group of students I was with.

We stayed at the Pod, which is something everyone should experience at least once in his or her life. The room was so tiny! I couldn’t remember the last time I had slept in a bunk bed. Nonetheless, everyone took our living conditions in stride. Hashtag #podlife became an inside joke between us students.

One of coolest things about being on the trip was getting to hear from several SU alumni. They told us about their career paths, shared words of wisdom, and wished us good luck on our journeys. There was so much knowledge shared with us that week. Here are 3 lessons I learned during the Winston Fisher seminar:

“Choices. Your life is defined by the choices you make.” – Craig Schmell

Choices. Say that to any one of the members of Winston Fisher 2014 and they will know exactly what you mean. Craig Schmell, SU alum and Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley, spoke passionately to our group about the importance of making healthy decisions now. Unlike most of the presenters, he didn’t speak to us about his own career path. He stated right from the beginning “I want to talk about you,” as he urged us to perform esteemable acts and act in manner that we are proud of. I think what I took away from that is that we must live a life of integrity.

“There are no shortcuts to success.” – Pamela Stern

One of my favorite speeches was from SU alumna Pamela Stern. She encouraged our group to never stop learning as she gave us each career books to read. I got the book “How to Talk to Anyone,” by Dr. Keith Souter. Pamela spoke about the importance of building your network, getting outside of your comfort zone, and working hard for the lifestyle you want. Life after college isn’t easy, and you know what? It isn’t supposed to be! I appreciated her words: “There are no shortcuts to success.” It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when things aren’t going well, but after hearing so many stories from alumni, I realize everyone goes through the motions. Work hard, stay kind… things will certainly come together. 

Winston Fisher Seminar students

“You’re defined by the initiatives you take. You must do the thing you want to do.” – Benjamin Wagner

Benjamin Wagner, also a SU alum, spoke to us about staying teachable and following your passions. He used the concept of “Do it Yourself,” or DIY. If there is something out there you want to do, make it happen! No one is saying it’s going to be easy, but life is short and I’m learning more and more every day that we must do the things we wish to do. Benjamin also encouraged the group to constantly set and re-set goals. There is always something to work toward. And of course, our ability to accomplish our goals is defined by our ability to take initiative.

At the end of the week, we had to present a business plan to a panel of 6 judges and our classmates. Talk about intimidating! Everyone stayed up all night working on their business plans. I woke up very tired and anxious about the day’s events. I was definitely nervous as I walked up to the front of the room to make my presentation. I took a deep breath and shook out the nerves (literally). Suddenly, I felt the fear roll off my back and I just went for it. The judges really liked the business idea I presented and my peers were so supportive!

In retrospect, my spring break feels like a dream. I can’t believe how much we accomplished in just one week! My favorite part of the trip was meeting the other students that participated in the seminar.

Even though we all walk different paths on campus, I believe it was destiny that all our paths crossed in this manner. I still see so many of my Winston Fisher classmates on campus. We all greet each other with genuine love and enthusiasm because we shared such an unique experience. The Winston Fisher seminar was life changing and definitely one of the highlights of my college career thus far. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to participate and truly would recommend the program to all liberal arts majors.

As we all learned that week, there is no one path to success. It doesn’t matter what you majored in or what school you went to. If you want something, make it happen. And perhaps, the greatest lesson I learned that week was simply this: Be Yourself. I wore my converse shoes for the majority of the trip (even when I was presenting!) because I felt comfortable in them. I found that all the stress and anxiety melted away when I was just being true to myself.

Don’t apologize for your major because liberal arts majors have skills that can take us far. We have what it takes to succeed. Always remember that. 


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Contact Information

Sarah Scalese
315-443-8085
sescales@syr.edu