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Student Spotlight: Rachel Stevens, Management & Entrepreneurship Major

What motivated you to pursue Entrepreneurship and Management as your major?

After completing high school, I found myself uncertain about my career path. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to benefit from the Virginia Promise offered by my alma mater, Fairfax High School. The Virginia Promise, a collaboration between Fairfax Schools and Stratford University, granted graduates a tuition of $2500 or less per school year for up to four years. Having attended Fairfax High School for my entire high school education, I was eligible for four years of tuition-free education. Initially, I enrolled in general business courses, recognizing the versatility of a business degree in various career paths. As I assisted at my family’s bakery in Fairfax, known as Sweet Moments Bakery, I realized the practicality of gaining business knowledge for potentially taking over the bakery in the future. This realization led me to focus specifically on entrepreneurship and management.

Why did you choose Stratford University?

 I selected Stratford University due to the Virginia Promise initiative. Fairfax High School also provided the opportunity for dual enrollment with Stratford during my high school years, allowing me to kick-start my college journey. Stratford’s renowned business program, coupled with the affordability offered by the Virginia Promise, made it a compelling choice for pursuing my degree.

Can you describe the Management program at Stratford?

Stratford’s Entrepreneurship and Management program is enriched with real-world applications. Courses like Global Entrepreneurship, taught by Kevin Manninen, and Human Resource Management, led by Mary Jane Hatton, provided practical insights applicable to my future career. An integral part of the program is the mandatory internship with a business firm. I completed mine at Tech Innovate Solutions in Fairfax, Virginia, which significantly enhanced my understanding by applying theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios.

Share your experience assisting local businesses with international expansion plans. As part of my Global Entrepreneurship class, I collaborated with local businesses to facilitate their global expansion plans. In a team with Alex Rodriguez and Emily Thompson, we worked with the local company, GlobalTech Solutions. The company specializes in renewable energy solutions and was interested in expanding to European markets, specifically Germany and Denmark. Our team conducted market research, analyzed regulatory requirements, and presented a comprehensive plan to GlobalTech Solutions. Although the actual implementation was affected by the pandemic, we provided them with valuable insights for potential future endeavors.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?

While not participating in sports, I engage with the TRIO program at Stratford. I meet with my advisor, Jessica Bennett, regularly to ensure I am on track for graduation. Besides my academic commitments, I focus on my coursework.

What are your plans post-graduation?

Currently, I am employed at the Fairfax City Hall and concurrently assisting at Sweet Moments Bakery as I approach my last semester at Stratford. I am hopeful to continue my career with the City of Fairfax. Additionally, I aspire to take over the operations of Sweet Moments Bakery full-time, contributing to its growth. With my wedding scheduled for May, I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead while intending to stay within the Virginia area.

How has your experience with COVID-19 impacted your college years?

The pandemic has shifted most of my classes to online platforms, primarily through Zoom calls. My physical presence on campus has been limited due to the circumstances, and I’ve adapted to the virtual learning environment. Personally, I find face-to-face interactions more conducive to learning, and I am eager to transition to a more traditional setting post-graduation. Despite the challenges, I am excited about completing my degree and stepping into the professional world.