Life has a way of challenging you with unpredictable twists.

For some, these sudden interruptions can derail dreams and halt personal development. But not for accounting alumna Maggie Salek. By the time she started at Fisher College of Business, she’d been through her fair share of unexpected life events and had already mastered the art of moving forward by envisioning an even better future for herself — and Fisher was going to help her get there.

Maggie readily admits she hadn’t given Ohio State much consideration. She had always planned to play soccer at a smaller school, but after a major health event, that was no longer an option.

When she toured campus and spent time at Fisher, she realized that, in addition to the intriguing opportunities and student success stories, there was real value to earning a degree from Fisher.

“I was just blown away by all of the opportunities that were offered at Fisher,” Maggie says. "During my Fisher tour, I saw from the statistics and internship stories that, with a degree from Fisher, I would have a greater chance of having a job offer before I graduated.”

PWC

Driven to reach her greatest potential

Before she even started her studies at Fisher, a life-defining event helped Maggie decide to major in accounting. While in high school, she was in a car accident, which caused her significant financial stress.

I never wanted to feel that stressed again,” she says. "I knew accounting was a field where I would learn to always have control over my finances.”

Her aunt, a CPA, was also a strong influence on her decision to major in accounting. Maggie noticed how her aunt, who had been a stay-at-home mom for two decades, was able to easily transition back into the workforce because of her in-demand skill set.

“I realized how imperative it was to have a major as dependable and unchanging as accounting,” Maggie says. “I want to be prepared like she was — adaptable for whatever life throws at me.”

The support and flexibility available at Fisher enabled Maggie to balance her studies with three jobs. She took full advantage of the experiential learning opportunities that Fisher offers.

Soles4Souls

Thanks to scholarship support, Maggie was able to expand her global perspective through an internship opportunity in London, England. She served as a consultant for the nonprofit, Soles4Souls, through the Second-year Transformational Experience Program in Fisher’s Office of Global Business.

“This was my first time abroad, and I never dreamed I’d be able to finance that experience in college,” she said.

Maggie credits the Honors Cohort program, and the program’s curriculum-based learning trips to Chicago, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil, for giving her perspective and opening her eyes to possibilities for her future.

“We visited different businesses and met inspiring individuals who completely changed how I see myself and what I can do in life,” she said. “These are trips I never imagined I could go on — and they were accessible because of donor support.”

Brazil

A CEO in the making

For Maggie, the Crisis Leadership Case Competition was her most transformational Fisher experience. During the 48-hour simulation, teams are assigned a crisis facing their fictitious companies. Over the course of two days, they put their leadership training and skills into practice to create a response to the crisis, which is delivered to a “board of directors,” comprised of real CEOs and executives, and to members of the media. Maggie served as the competition’s first female CEO.

“Even though we didn’t win, I was extremely proud of myself and my team for what we accomplished,” Maggie says. "It was the most empowering moment I have experienced. To receive feedback from such highly reputable people made me feel like I truly was a good leader and that I really did have the capacity to run my own company. For the first time, I saw myself as a strong leader, as someone who could one day be a CEO.”

“Having so many opportunities here has shown me that I can use my Fisher experience to discover and reach my greatest potential. Fisher not only allowed me the freedom to learn what I was passionate about, but to also practice it at the same time.”

Fisher students

Determination in the wake of uncertainty

Maggie’s final semester at Ohio State brought one more unexpected life event — the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The university was forced to move to online classes and shutter dorms and classroom buildings.

Instead of soaking up her final moments on campus, Maggie was at home in northeast Ohio taking online classes and practicing social distancing, while living with her parents and four siblings.

“It was all so surreal, especially as a graduating senior,” she says. "I worked hard to get to the point where I was taking classes I knew I would enjoy. I missed the interactions with my instructors and peers. I’m a tactile learner and reading out of a book or watching a taped lecture just wasn’t the same. It was hard to find a quiet place to study and watch lectures with seven people in the house. I also missed the little, spontaneous moments that would change the course of my day, like running into a friend on the Oval and grabbing coffee so we could sit and chat for a while.”

For Maggie, one of the most difficult aspects of completing her degree virtually was that she couldn’t say goodbye to the friends, instructors and people she’s come to care about.

“Everything happened so quickly — it was all cut short so abruptly — I didn’t get to say goodbye,” she says. “And with commencement weekend canceled, I’ll never be in one spot with all my senior friends again.”

“But Ohio State students have grit. We want to learn, and we want to succeed. And if Fisher taught me one thing it was how to seize opportunity. Many students, like myself, don’t often have the financial means to take advantage of these learning opportunities, and I realize that many of the life-altering experiences I’ve had through Fisher would not have been possible without donor support. I’m so thankful for where I am today.”

Maggie Salek(BSBA '20)

O-H-I-O