Scholarships help student achieve career goals in Detroit and abroad

This originally appeared as a feature story for Wayne State University’s Pivotal Moments campaign.

For Alexa Gates, being able to change majors from music to global supply chain management was a key reason for choosing to attend Wayne State; because of the breadth of its programs and the variety of paths a student may take. Another important factor was scholarships.

"I would not be graduating from Wayne State this year if I hadn’t received scholarships," Gates said. "My parents have three children attending school at the same time, so I needed the help."

Gates received the Community of Scholars Scholarship, and it solidified her decision to attend Wayne State. And it was a summer job managing inventory at a jewelry store that sparked her interest in business and directed her toward the School of Business Administration’s (SBA) global supply chain management program. Gates received additional scholarships through the SBA, including the Armstrong Scholarship and a scholarship to study abroad.

"Studying abroad was a pivotal moment in my career at Wayne State," said Gates, who traveled with other business students to Northern Italy in the spring of 2014. "I would recommend the study abroad program to anyone going into business."

While in Italy, Gates and her fellow students enjoyed learning firsthand about automotive operations by touring plants and facilities including Maserati and Chrysler-owned companies Fiat and Mopar. The trip was so meaningful for Gates, it impacted her plans for the future.

“Now when I graduate, I want to work in another country and eventually get my M.B.A. in international business,” she said.

Gates said the SBA faculty also have been instrumental in helping her achieve career goals. Dr. Timothy Butler, in particular, has helped with career planning, and he encouraged Gates to gain real-world experience while completing her degree. With assistance from the SBA, Gates secured a supply chain internship with a focus on packaging at Faurecia, a global automotive supplier.

Gates also has held several leadership positions in student organizations, including the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and the SBA’s Global Supply Chain Management Association. And she founded the SBA’s Beta Gamma Sigma Student Organization, a national honors society that has about 100 members.

With a long list of classes, leadership commitments and an internship, Gates admitted her schedule can be daunting, but it is all worth it. And, Gates says whenever things seem hard, she is encouraged by the support she has received from the SBA’s scholarship donors.

"To me, receiving a scholarship showed that someone believed in me," said Gates. "Scholarships have reduced my stress by paying for my education. That helped me get through tougher semesters and classes."

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