International Business and Economics Major

Raymond Edwards"This fall I told the incoming freshman at convocation that IUP is a place full of opportunities, and that if one takes advantage of these opportunities, he can get an Ivy League quality education here. I gave them many examples, but let me tell you my story, and you be the judge of my assertion."

As a freshman, I came in as a business student enrolled in both the Robert E. Cook Honors College and Eberly Honors program. From week one I was reading, writing, and discussing assignments such as Plato's cave and Descartes deconstruction of the world. I was learning political science and debating policy, and learning the basics about business. It took no time at all to make friends who I could count on for a study partner or a good time. I was continuing my piano studies and singing in university ensembles, and I was immediately involved in several organizations on campus, from business related clubs to student government, from Italian club to service organizations.

By the end of the year, I had learned my weaknesslanguages. I decided that if I was going to learn Italian, I needed to be immersed in it. So I self-arranged a home-stay immersion program in Siena, Italy. With financial support from RECHC, I learned more about Italian language, wine, and culture in a month than I could have in a decade otherwise.

The following year, I fell in love with economics. By the end of the year, I added a second major, and by my third year had completed my degree requirements, including and honors thesis, which examined the gender gap as an indicator of success at the Olympics. Because of my expeditious work, I was accepted both to the London School of Economics summer school and the American Institute of Economic Research as a summer fellow. I chose the latter and spent two weeks in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, with economic graduate students, professors, and researchers. I attended seminars and conducted independent research and decided that I would apply . . . well, we can come back to that in a little while.

Back to my second yearI applied and was appointed to the IUP Council of Trustees. As the student representative to the council, I have a vote equal to that of my trustee colleagues and mentors. This unique experience has given me the insight of what it is like to run a multimillion dollar business from the top. I don't know how you could have a better business experience. Over the next year, besides my role as a student, I attended countless university-related meetings, events, and ceremonies, from ribbon cuttings to black-tie events, from football games to one-on-one meetings with deans, faculty, students, and administration, including the IUP president. Time management and organization were key, especially while I served simultaneously as president for the IUP Ambassadors Student Alumni Association. I got key public speaking, decision making, and writing experience too.

Following my sophomore year, I took an internship at the Sovereign Arena and Performing Arts center in Reading, Pa. I thought it would complement my experiences as a marketing coordinator for a student magazine and with the Obama campaign. I learned a lot, but mostly about what I don't like!

My last summer, I was fortunate enough to take a senior synthesis class "fin-de-siecle Austria" or turn of the century Austria. The class involved a month-long trip (again with RECHC support) to Vienna, Austria, where our class experienced the food, music, architecture, and culture first-hand. With weekend excursions to Venice and Munich, it is easy to forget our beautiful twenty-five-mile bike ride along the blue Danube from Melk to Krems.

Senior year has gone by at warp speed so far. I can't believe it's already Homecoming! Besides school and extracurricular activities, my friends and I have already attended a Pirates game and OAR concert, and plan to attend Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C. This year, I still hope to present my work at a conference, and I'm working with an Economics faculty member on her research. All of these experiences have me convinced that I've made the most of my time at IUP. I know my education is as good as any, because I'm competing for a spot in some of the most competitive jobs and graduate programs, not to mention my application for the Rhodes scholarship!

Ray is currently a Product & Marketing Analyst at AllConnect Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia (as of Fall 2013).