Alumni Connect With Incoming Business Students

About 20 incoming first-year students in the Barowsky School of Business (BSB) were given the opportunity this month to meet virtually with a half dozen BSB alumni, including Brad Johnson ’17, whose journey through Dominican was remarkable and inspirational. He studied a semester abroad at Oxford University and now works in New York City as director of tech banking at First Republic Bank.

“I started at First Republic in a customer service style role, and actually almost left to join a tech company. But a group of mentors sat me down to have a long discussion about what I wanted out of my career, and ultimately helped me land in my current role in a new group being built out at the bank,” Brad says. “It was a bit of a risk joining a new initiative of the bank, while also being young in my career, but I believed really strongly in my boss and couldn’t be happier with where I am in my career. Dominican teaches you to find mentors with those above you and really leverage relationships to help navigate uncertain times. First Republic is about three times the size of Dominican, but still feels small which I appreciate.”

Brad joined five other recent BSB alumni on the Zoom session with the first-year students. They were Jake Quast ’19, a lead consultant with alliantgroup in Houston, Tx., Sophia Stetson, a member of the Business Leadership Program for LinkedIn in Chicago, Xavier Williams ’19, who is joining the Charles Schwab Financial Consulting Academy in Indianapolis, Rachel Sadacca ’12, marketing manager for Facebook in San Francisco; and Jessy Marshall ’16, a producer at Mahalo Digital in Marin County.

The introductory session was hosted and organized by Dr. Denise Lucy, executive director of the Institute for Leadership Studies, Dr. Françoise Lepage, Sarlo Distinguished Professor of International Business; and professor of management Dr. Christopher Leeds.  It is the first time BSB has held such a meeting between incoming students and alumni prior to the start of the fall semester. The first-year students forwarded questions to the alumni in advance of the virtual meeting and the alumni were more than happy to respond.

“I think what all us as alumni said to them is what we miss the most was being in close proximity to a tight-knit community like Dominican,” Brad said. “We let them know that they’ll find lifelong friends at DU, and also build relationships with faculty that are equally just as strong and you really won’t find at a big school.”

That was the case for Brad. He was recruited to play basketball for the Penguins at Dominican but, he said, “when narrowing it down to a few schools, Dominican had the best `feel’ when I visited. It seemed like the faculty and coaches really bought into supporting the students.”


During Brad’s senior year he was selected as a recipient of the Thomas and Joanne Peterson Endowed Scholarship for Dominican Scholars at Oxford. It was the highlight of his Dominican experience.

“It was the most unique experience I had at Dominican,” says Brad, who studied economics at Oxford. “It was my first time leaving North America and so it was a great opportunity to push my boundaries, and, not to sound incredibly cliché, `find myself.’ It never would have been possible without the support of Dr. Leeds and Dr. LePage, so I am forever grateful to them for that, along with my whole college experience. Some of my best friends today are people I met while studying at Oxford.”

For the first-year students, meeting BSB alumni such as Brad before beginning classes at Dominican was a validation of the reason they chose to enroll at the University.

“I am quite sure that the session really strengthened the freshmen's belief in Dominican as the right place for them,” Dr. Leeds says. “They got to see the career success of our recent alumni.”

And what advice did the alumni have for the first-year students?

“Don’t worry as much about your concentration or a very specific job that you want after college and start getting work experience as early as possible to see what you like and don’t like,” Brad says. “Think more about what `lifestyle’ you want personally and professionally, and then seek careers that fit that mold and can help you find the best fit. Lastly, don’t be shy to leverage the learnings and experiences of the faculty and alumni. Penguins love to support other Penguins, and anyone can ping me on LinkedIn if I can help them along their college journey.”

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