As an undergraduate at Dominican University of California, Cole Henderson’s study abroad experience in Italy was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Cole’s Dominican experience paved a path for him to return to Europe in the fall, this time as a master’s student studying Bioeconomy at The Technical University of Munich.
Cole, who graduated from Dominican in 2021, was a well-rounded student. He earned a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing, management and international business. He also minored in leadership and global innovation and entrepreneurship. He credits the opportunity to study abroad – his long-time dream – and his connections with students and faculty alike at Dominican as his inspiration for going to graduate school.
“I have plenty of friends and mentors that I would not have ever made if I didn't attend Dominican. I think one of the highlights of Dominican is the relationships you can make with the faculty. At larger schools you just end up as another number, whereas at Dominican you can actually form relationships with faculty,” Cole says. “I would describe my experience as fulfilling and eye-opening. I truly don't think I would be on the path I am now without my experiences at Dominican. Dominican allowed me to create an idea of what I wanted to do in life.”
Originally, when Cole came to Dominican as a soccer recruit and business major, his goal was to graduate, start a career, and travel. That’s changed for the better and the bigger.
“Now my goal is obviously to graduate again, gain experience at a large international corporation in the European Union, and then start my own consultancy firm when I have enough experience,” he says. “I believe graduating Dominican really helped solidify my future plans.”
Cole’s journey to Dominican started when an older friend and former soccer teammate at Rocklin High School, Brendan Adame ’20 encouraged him to join him at Dominican. On his recruiting trip, Cole was introduced to Dr. Christopher Leeds, professor of management in the Barowsky School of Business, and Dominican faculty athletics representative. A scheduled 30-minute meeting turned into two hours, a signal to Cole that Dominican staff and faculty members have plenty of time to offer help and guidance.
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As he progressed through BSB, Cole’s support network expanded to include Daniel Cassidy, assistant dean for academic programs and external relations; Courtney Budesa, director of internships and professional development; Dr. Jacob Massoud, MBA program director and assistant professor of strategic management; Giulia Welch, director of career development in the Student Success Center; Dr. Apollo Demirel, assistant professor of marketing; and Dr. Vafa Saboori, director of MS in accounting program and assistant professor of operations management.
“Professor Apollo Demirel definitely enriched my experience at Dominican. He was so excited to teach his subjects, and this translated into the classroom,” Cole says. “Vafa also had an impact on my experience. His class was the sole reason I became interested in project management and supply chain management.”
As a junior, Cole also pursued his dream of studying abroad. He wound up studying at Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, taking in-person business classes in personal marketing, leadership coaching, and green management sustainability, which particularly piqued his curiosity.
“I've always been interested in nature and animals, and I even thought about pursuing my bachelor’s degree in zoology/ethology as my childhood hero was Jane Goodall,” Cole says. “I think the main moment I became more interested in sustainability was due to the green management class I took in Italy. This was further cemented with the classes I took with Dr. Massoud. I would say I developed an interest by just observing the effects of climate change around our world and then once I learned how much large corporations actually damage the environment, that kind of spurred me into wanting to go in this direction with my life.”
First, however, Cole had to take a detour. The pandemic hit and, initially in Italy, Cole wasn’t overly worried.
“But once Italy announced shutdowns and border shutdowns it got a little hectic as people were trying to leave on buses and trains,” says Cole, who was also taking classes in Italian culinary traditions and culture.
“After the first shutdown I traveled to Zurich to 'escape' the shutdown and from there went to Barcelona to visit some of my friends. In Barcelona, I learned my program was going online. I headed back to Italy to figure everything out and that's when you started seeing a change. Once Italy officially closed its borders, I began country hopping to escape lockdowns to 'try and wait it out' in Europe. I think the biggest impact this had on me was that it solidified my desire to travel.”
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And now he’s going to Germany this fall to study Bioeconomy. The discipline examines macroeconomic structural change towards a globally sustainable economic development. Part of this structural change is the transformation of the raw material base from fossil to biogenic resources. The use of renewable raw materials and microorganisms for food, energy, and material purposes thus forms the basis of the bioeconomy.
“Once I graduated from Dominican, I knew there were certain paths that I wanted to pursue or was interested in. One of those paths was sustainability because I believe climate change is a big issue today,” Cole says. “I want to take a position that focuses on transitioning corporations into more sustainable practices instead of some of these `performative’ actions many take now. One of the main reasons I chose this Bioeconomy program was because it was a perfect mix between the `science’ of sustainability and then applying it to business.”
Photo above of Cole Henderson holding acceptance letter to The Technical University of Munich