In the Winter 2018 issue of Fox Focus, readers were introduced to a group of Fox students who were among the first to participate in the school’s new and improved Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Core Curriculum. The curriculum was redesigned with innovation in mind and focuses on topics such as critical thinking, communication and quantitative reasoning skills.
Fox undergraduate students use these skills every day. The editorial team checked in with Nasir Mack, Meredith Orme and Robert Zurzolo to see what has changed for each of them in the last year.
Nasir Mack, a business management major, has taken on more leadership roles in his extracurricular activities. He is now the strategic partnership coordinator of the Fox Student Philanthropic Society, and he is involved with the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, which is a diverse group of students working shape the school’s culture. He is also starting to explore whether he wants to major or minor in something that will build upon his creative, artistic side, such as Marketing.
“Last year, I was constantly grinding away and pushing for more and more. Now that I am more comfortable in myself and my education, I am learning to stride and pace myself,” Mack says.
Meredith Orme, now double majoring in accounting and legal studies, is involved with student professional organizations (SPOs) on campus and is an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since her freshman year, Orme discovered that she is interested in a career in forensic accounting.
“While my classes have taught me a lot, I think the most important skill I have learned is how to present myself,” Orme says. “I am much more sure of myself and confident in who I am and what I want. I am not only more confident in how I present myself, but in my set of skills. I’ve also learned how to communicate effectively and how to be much more straightforward.”
Robert Zurzolo, after changing his major a few times over the course of the last year, decided on double majoring in finance and accounting in order to pursue a career in investment banking or private equity. Currently, Zurzolo is studying abroad at Temple University’s campus in Rome, Italy. In addition to attending classes and exploring Europe, he has gotten back to his hobby of playing soccer.
“I feel that I have grown as a student; I take more pride in my assignments,” he says. “During my time abroad I have become more appreciative of the opportunities that I have been given, both here and back at home, and it has also reaffirmed my desire to travel as much as possible in the future.”
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
Hometown: North Wales, Pa.
Happy feet: Another of Raman’s interests includes her involvement with Temple Agni, the university’s all-female South Asian Fusion dance team. “(It was) a good step back from anything academic and anything business-wise,” she said. “It was just kind of a good place for me to be the way I am and hang out with my friends, but also dancing is just such a great release.”
Neha Raman, BBA ’18, was “really into nail polish,” but found that her options were limited.
“I wanted a more custom approach,” she said, “and was tired of seeing the same colors over and over again.”
Her solution was to launch a make-your-owl nail polish business – called “Rungh,” the Hindi word for “color” (and pronounced “Rung”) – in November 2015. The Temple junior did so while still a student at North Penn High School in North Wales, Pa. It was not without help – her parents, listed as the business’s co-founders, put up $40,000 in seed money – and not without setbacks.
In time she produced a product that sells for $39.95 and includes six nail-polish bottles with nail-polish base, 18 pigment capsules, a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. She has sold “about 100” to date, but there has been measurable success in many other ways.
Rungh, which has been featured on Zulily.com, was the official nail polish of Philadelphia Fashion Week in February 2016, and that same month Raman was the runner-up in College Pitch Philadelphia, winning $5,000 in the process. In April she was again a second-place finisher, this time in Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, and picked up a $10,000 prize. And in June she made a one-minute pitch to casting associates of the popular television program “Shark Tank,” when they visited Temple’s campus.
She is not permitted to say how that went, but to her father, Niranjan (he goes by N.J.), this entire exercise has been a no-lose situation.
“We thought it would be a phenomenal experience that you can’t get in the classroom,” he said, referring to himself and his wife, Usha. “This is a real thing. … Given the fact that Neha is so young, it’s not like there’s a nest egg she might lose. She’s at the point where she can leverage her youth to her advantage. She can learn from her mistakes. If things don’t go the way she wants, there will be other opportunities open to her.”
N.J. emigrated from his native India a quarter-century ago, to pursue his master’s degree in marketing communications at the University of Connecticut. Usha, who he did not know at the time, came to UConn from the same nation a year later; she was seeking her master’s in nutrition.
They met and hit it off, and N.J. is now a marketing research consultant, while Usha is a senior data analyst at Cigna. They have always told Neha and her younger sister Nina to follow their passions. Neha, not surprisingly, describes entrepreneurship as “taking what you like and enjoy, and turning it into a business.”
“There’s nothing like this,” N.J. said. “We thought she kind of hit the nail on the head (with the idea).”
Neha, who in her spare time performs for Temple Agni, the university’s all-female South Asian Fusion dance team, believes even greater things are ahead for her business. Other products, she said, are on the horizon – products she can’t yet disclose. And she speaks hopefully about her post-college days.
“By the time graduation comes, I’m hoping that Rungh is at a point where I can really manage it full-time and take it even farther,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how far things go in the coming years. That’s my goal: Hopefully by the time I graduate I already have something that is ready to take off.”
For Fox School junior Alexis Werner, social justice and support of veterans collide through her program Seeds of Hope.
Fun Fact: While receiving the 2014 Prudential Financial Spirit of Community Award, she met Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. Alexis also has served as a featured speaker at TEDxPittsburgh Youth.
Alexis Werner has found a perfect balance in her ability to meld social justice and schoolwork.
Alexis Werner has found a perfect balance in her ability to meld social justice and schoolwork.
Last autumn, the Entrepreneurship major won the Pennsylvania Council of Social Studies Future Leader Award through the Pennsylvania Bar Association, for her work with Seeds of Hope, which provides fresh-grown produce to veterans and their fam- ilies. She also was a finalist for the Peace First Prize, a national award that recognizes youths between the ages of 8 and 22 for their compassion, courage, and ability to create collaborative change in their communities.
Werner founded Seeds of Hope in 2011, when she was a student at Shaler Area High School, in Glenshaw, Pa. She credits her stepfather, Gregory Zottola, as her inspiration. Zottola had returned from active duty in Afghanistan with the United States Army in 2011 suffering with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“He had just married my mom (Nicole), who’s a veteran, too, but she never saw active combat. So it was a different transi- tion,” Werner said. “You see someone in your life struggling to cope and, as a 15-year-old girl, it was difficult dealing with such real-world issues. I felt helpless.”
Following consultation with a guidance counselor, Werner started planting gardens in her community. Contributions from a local grocery store chain fetched fruits and vegetables to be donated to veterans. A friend’s father, who owns a greenhouse, donated soil and land, and taught Werner and other area high school students how to tend to the produce.
In its first year, Seeds of Hope used its “victory gardens” to generate more than 1,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables. Since, Seeds of Hope now has gardens in eight states, and
Werner plans for her organization to support veterans and their families nationwide.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD, and one in seven veterans is homeless.
The goal of Seeds of Hope is to curb the cycle of mental illness and poverty within the military veteran population. The gardens were the first step, Werner said. She’s also written and pub- lished a children’s book, “Beginning Hope,” on the importance of proper nutrition, volunteering, and veteran appreciation.
Around Veterans Day, Werner screened her documentary, titled “Our Way Home,” for an audience of 200 in Pittsburgh. (For upcoming screenings, visit OurWayHomeForVets.org.)
“The message is clear: It’s never too late for veterans to get help,” said Werner, a rising junior. “The documentary almost acts as a call to action for businesses to hire veterans to help their transition after their service.”
“What is inspiring about Alexis is that she has taken a difficult and highly personal situation with her stepfather and his PTSD, and has used that experience to develop a documentary film to help others understand what veterans go through,” said Debbie Campbell, Assistant Dean at the Fox School of Business, and Faculty Advisor to Temple University’s Veteran Association. “She is succeeding in making a real difference through her Seeds of Hope program, and now with this film. She is also excelling aca- demically as a Fox School student, which is amazing considering her class load and everything that she has going on in her life.”
Commitment to his fellow students led Fox School senior Ryan Rinaldi to the top job within Temple Student Government
Ryan K. Rinaldi
Hometown: Moscow, Pa.
Fun Fact: Holding public office at a university in Philadelphia, Rinaldi said, would have its challenges. His prescience had plenty to do with his rooting interest. Rinaldi, a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, worried whether his favorite football team would directly influence the result Temple Student Government’s general election. After the results came in, “I was the most proud Cowboy fan to be elected to any type of position in the city of Philadelphia,” Rinaldi said.
Ryan Rinaldi believes the business of politics is business as usual.
The senior finance major proved it during a successful run for Temple Student Government president this past spring, leaning on the tried and true principles he has learned at the Fox School of Business.
“I think a business background really applies to just about anything you do, in a professional sense,” he said. “There are a lot of takeaways that business students receive, just in a professional development way, but also in how to operate. I think that business students operate in a different way, and I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from that.”
He selected his running mates, Binh Nguyen and Brittany Boston (vice presidents for external affairs and internal services, respectively), based not on previous friendship but merit. He then ran on a platform that emphasized service to the student body, unity in the campus community, and future growth, a message he circulated via social media and by meeting with various student groups. As a result, Rinaldi and Co. earned 3,042 of the 4,582 votes cast (66.3 percent).
“When most people think of the public sector, they think of it being a bureaucracy and not very efficient,” he said. “In business school, and Fox gets the credit for this, I’ve learned to communicate efficiently and operate efficiently. … We communicated and operated efficiently, and that was the reason for our success in the campaign.”
In his current role he will oversee a $150,000 allocation budget for 300 organizations, and a $40,000 budget for government costs and programs.
“I think as a kid growing up, in high school too, my dream became to go into the public sector and try to do good for people,” he said. “That’s really the underlying cause of me wanting to run for student government for Temple, because I came to love Temple. … I want to make sure that Temple is doing well, and that it’s in good hands.”