Hayden Elliott grew up in Owensboro, a small town in western Kentucky. Throughout high school, he was passionate about theater and travelled frequently as an actor. Upon reaching college application time, Hayden decided he ultimately wanted to go to a big school with a reputable business school in a big city with plenty of culture, pride and energy.

His decision to study finance was rooted in a project he completed as a senior in high school. After a study about Google’s cost savings from switching to solar panels, he and his classmates created a proposal and a pitch, complete with financial projections, recommending his school district to switch to solar energy. The idea was eventually approved by the district. The experience impressed on Hayden the impact and influence that finance can have on strategic decisions.

During his first year at Fisher, Hayden joined eight student organizations — which he admits was, at times, overwhelming. After working with organizations such as Block O, Alpha Kappa Psi, Undergraduate Business Council (UBC), the Climate Reality Project, Fisher Impact Day Planning Committee, and Business Scholars, he found his passion.

Hayden currently serves as the president of UBC, an opportunity for him to make a tangible impact on campus, learn the skills necessary to improve other students’ experiences and be an influential voice in the room. As a member of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, Hayden has built friendships and relationships with many fun and brilliant people with whom he’s had the chance to connect. He also has had a handful of meaningful professional opportunities, through internships with Ameriprise Financial, Independence Bank, Nationwide and Abercrombie.

When reflecting on his underclass experience, Hayden emphasizes the value of getting involved to learn your leadership style and to explore your passions and interests. Once you know what you’re passionate about, stick with opportunities that align. Success is different for everyone; it is worth taking the time to define what that means to you. Likewise, there is no right answer to how to split time between a job, a student organization or other commitments; it is different for each person. College is an opportunity to acquire the tools necessary for success; both the path and destination will be unique for everyone.

If there you feel there is a way that the Fisher experience can grow, Hayden suggests reaching out to him or your UBC representative whose contact information can be found on FisherU. Hayden also strongly encourages students who are eager to improve the student experience to consider applying to the UBC when the application opens next semester. UBC seeks to improve the Fisher experience and is an excellent platform for students to have their voices heard.

Sneha Arora is a well-traveled and internationally curious fourth-year student at Fisher who is passionate about sharing her love for business, culture, food, and travel and about giving back to her community. She currently serves as a Peer Career Coach in the Office of Career Management, where she consults with students about resumes, LinkedIn and professional development.

Sneha grew up and went to high school in India, where she took rigorous business courses in accounting, economics and, management studies. She enjoyed these courses and decided to pursue a Business degree. A trip to the U.S. during her freshman year, which included tours of New York City, Orlando and Washington D.C., ultimately prompted her to pursue studying abroad in the U.S. While applying for colleges, she knew she wanted to go to a big school in a big city, with a solid finance and economics program, leadership opportunities and lots of student organizations. She ultimately found a home at Ohio State.

One of Sneha’s most memorable experiences has been her involvement with Taste of OSU, a spring multicultural festival that brings together roughly 30 student organizations and attracts more than 4,000 students. It’s a celebration of diversity and cultures from around the world in which international and ethnic orgs represent cultures through food, dance, and singing performances. Sneha currently serves as the student chair, a two-year commitment where her responsibilities include overseeing all logistics of the event including emceeing the event, communicating with student orgs, marketing the event, raising funds, and assisting in selecting participants. The planning process takes six months, but Sneha finds the end result incredibly rewarding because she believes that participants get a chance to serve as ambassadors of their own country and portray what their culture is actually about, which isn’t always accurately depicted on TV or social media. In her opinion, this event helps both domestic and international students to become culturally sensitive and learn about different cultures.

Additionally, she is currently on the Fisher programming board that is planning the first ever Fisher International Education Celebration Week in November. She also participated in the Consulting Industry Immersion program, where she and her team worked with Nationwide Insurance to provide insights about millennial sentiment toward insurance. Outside of school, she served as a Finance intern at Travelex, a foreign exchange company in New York City, and as a capital markets and origination intern at the National Affordable Housing Trust, a real estate financial intermediary. Her long-term plans include applying to graduate school and earning a master’s degree in finance. In her free time, Sneha enjoys ping pong and traveling.

Sneha’s greatest piece of advice? Don’t get overwhelmed by the size of the university or intimidated by the number of people doing impressive things; eventually, everything falls into place as everyone’s journey is different, and campus gets smaller as you build more relationships. And take advantage of the amazing resources on campus! Namely, the Peer Career Coaches hold drop-in hours in Gerlach Hall (Room 150) during these times – Sneha and her fellow coaches can be an amazing resource for support and professional development.

Mei Huang is a fourth-year student pursuing a double major in operations management and marketing and is looking forward to spending her final year at Fisher as a Peer Advisor. Originally from Beijing, China, Mei spent a year as an exchange student in high school living with a host family on a farm in Gentry, Arkansas, and another year at a Catholic high school in Michigan City, Indiana, from which she eventually graduated.

During her visit to Ohio State, Mei was impressed with the mix of the campus’ classic architecture and modern innovations, and the diversity of experiences that come with attending a large school. She credits some of her early success to upper-class mentors she met through her freshman survey class, as well as through Fisher International Friends, both of which pushed her to get involved and engaged on campus. Throughout her time at Fisher, Mei has been involved in Fisher Citizens Program, FisherCares, Students Consulting for Non-Profits, International Undergrad Future Orientation, Honors Accounting, the Consulting Industry Immersion Program and Buckeye Operations Management Society.

Mei has taken advantage of a number of opportunities at Ohio State, and she is thankful to have explored these experiences before finding her passion and path. Ultimately, she chose operations as her specialization, as she enjoys the technical aspects of supply chain management and how it intersects business and engineering. Additionally, she enjoys evaluating innovations and efficiencies in American supply chain systems using her familiarity with the Chinese logistics and transportation system.

She has pursued her professional interests through an internship at a logistics company in New York City as a sophomore, and spent last summer in the Beijing headquarters of Nestlé as a supply chain analyst. Mei is considering a number of different opportunities following graduation, including pursuing a graduate degree. In her free time she enjoys art, calligraphy, painting, ceramics, bowling, pool and travelling.

Mei’s advice for first-year students? Take advantage of opportunities presented to you, be intellectually curious, and — most importantly — have fun!

As commencement neared, Brett Bakies spent some time reflecting on his college experiences.

Four years ago, Brett started as an aerospace engineering student at Ohio State, but he realized that his interests didn’t fit engineering. He eventually found that fit in the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Scholars program. Besides the ICE program, Brett later interned at a small start-up company and enjoyed working on the predictability of social media sentiment in the stock market. This cemented his major switch from engineering to finance.

After finding the major that interested him, Brett began to develop his career path, first by putting himself in various business environments. Learning from previous internship experience, Brett found an affinity for a fast-paced work environment, such as investment banking, in a big city.

However, the decision wasn’t smooth sailing. Brett wasn’t accepted into an investment club at the college. Shortly after the rejection, Brett seized the opportunity and resolved to improve himself. Brett was later accepted into the Fisher Futures Investment Banking Program, an investment banking preparatory program run by the Office of Career Management. He also received plenty of rejections while applying for an investment banking internship, but he never gave up. Finally, he was selected to Mizuho’s Investment Banking Summer Analyst Program. While at Mizuho, he worked long hours, but he took pleasure in it and believes that working more allows you to learn more. He will be joining the bank as an Investment Banking Analyst in New York City following graduation.

As a fourth-year student at the college, Brett was named the recipient of S. Maurice Bostic and Birch S.M. Bostic Memorial Award, a special Pace Setters Award presented to the outstanding male member of the graduating class. For Brett, his favorite memory from Ohio State was a win over Michigan during his second year, after which he rushed the field and celebrated with Brutus and other Buckeye fans.

Brett’s best advice to his classmates is to be opportunistic and optimistic. You may get thousands of rejections in life, but never give up and be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they're presented.

You don't need to follow a single path — your life is full of possibilities

Meet this month’s student spotlight: Mehdy Slama. Mehdy recently spent a memorable spring break in Sarasota, Florida, where he volunteered for a week at the Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Service Center. The center, co-founded by the late Betty Schoenbaum, a longtime supporter of Fisher, houses 20 non-profits that provide services ranging from fighting hunger and human trafficking to promoting education within the Sarasota population.

The annual spring break service trip is organized through FisherCares, Fisher’s community service organization, in partnership with Buck-I-SERV. This was Mehdy’s second year participating in the trip, and this year he served as a leader with the group. His first assignment of the week was at the Early Learning Coalition (ELC), which aims to create high quality early learning environments for people in the area. With ELC, the FisherCares group helped fill bags with school supplies and assisted with marketing materials. The group also worked with More Too Life (MTL), a non-profit dedicated to helping sex trafficking victims. The students on the trip provided MTL with data analysis insights. Working with ELC and MTL, Mehdy’s eyes were opened as he learned of some of the struggles that others are enduring. The FisherCares group worked with other non-profits throughout the week and spent some of their free time at the beach. They built quite the comradery as they spent time bonding throughout the week.

For Mehdy, giving back isn’t only about volunteering through FisherCares. He also works as a business analytics teaching assistant, helping students with class material during office hours and recitation. Mehdy is also a Fisher Ambassador, giving tours to prospective students visiting the college and answering their questions. He makes himself available to help these students, drawing on many of his own experiences during his time at Fisher.

Outside of giving back, Mehdy is a finance and international business major. He is looking forward to beginning his consulting career with Accenture after graduation and is excited to see where life takes him. He’s eager to find new ways to make an impact, and he has a dream of owning his own consulting firm that provides pro bono services to non-profits.

When asked a topic on which he’d like to deliver a TED Talk, Mehdy’s answer wasn’t the least bit surprising.

“Living for other people”

It’s easy to separate yourself from other people while you’re chasing success, he said. Mehdy believes that life isn’t just about living for yourself and trying to get ahead. If you want to get ahead, you should pull others with you and help them along.

“A journey with somebody else is better than a journey on your own.”