Student Spotlight: Lisa Stites ’21

Lisa Stites ‘21                            

What attracted you to Drew?

I really liked Drew’s campus the first time I visited for a tour my senior year of high school. It’s a really pretty campus with lots of trees that just feels relaxing. I was also attracted to Drew for the small class sizes because I knew it meant there would be close relationships between students and professors. I did feel a little nervous about small class sizes at first because I’m generally a shy person, but it turns out that small class sizes help me get out of my shell and participate more actively.

Why did you choose Business as a major and Statistics as a minor?

I started out undecided so it was important to me to be able to explore different subjects. I knew business was a strong possibility because I had been involved in my high school’s Future Business Leaders of America club during most of high school. I’m glad that I was able to explore other subjects during my first year at Drew, such as psychology, microeconomics, statistics, and art history, because this helped me learn more about myself in terms of what interested me and what didn’t.

I chose business as my major because I liked the breadth of career options it offered. In this major you take courses in economics, finance, management, and marketing (among many others), so I liked that I could continue to further explore my interests within the realm of business. I was also attracted to this major because I’ve worked in several different job settings (a law office, a tennis club, and Drew’s Accounts Payable department) and from this I got to witness firsthand the uniqueness of each business, which got me interested in the functions and dynamics of business.

Have you done any internships?

No, but I’ve worked at a real estate law office for almost 6 years, a tennis club for 2 years, and I worked in Drew’s Accounts Payable department for 2 semesters. At one point I was working all three jobs and studying as a full-time student at the same time.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

One of my mentors at Drew is Prof. Alex de Voogt, who is my academic advisor and has been fantastic in helping me plan which classes to take. He’s always willing to answer my many questions and offer me his best advice.  Another mentor is Prof. Maliha Safri, who is my advisor for my honors thesis. She helped me pick out my topic on wildfires and guided me through the process of narrowing down my research topic into something manageable and new. I couldn’t have reached the point I’m at now without her and I’m super grateful for her help. Prof. Sarah Abramowitz and Prof. Yi Lu were also mentors to me in Statistics. They both had a significant role in fostering my interest for statistics and always helped me when I didn’t understand a concept. They are both a big reason I decided to apply for the M.S. in Data Analytics at Drew.

Have you studied abroad? Done any short, long, or nycTRECs?

I participated in the Semester on Wall Street this past summer. Although it was virtual, I still learned lots of new information about how financial markets work. It was all very applicable material that I can use both now and later in life. My favorite part of the Wall Street Semester was the Drew alumni guest speakers. It was a great opportunity to ask questions from people out in the workforce and it was especially great that they were all Drew alumni because we could ask them questions about their Drew experience.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

Access to education is important to me. I think education is a very valuable thing that everyone should have the opportunity to pursue.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew? 

I loved seeing squirrels and groundhogs on my way from the Commuter Lot to Brothers College. I also enjoyed going on field trips to NYC for my DSEM course and an art history course, in addition to visiting a farm to help pick vegetables for America’s Grow-a-Row.

 How has being a commuter with limited resources affected your journey?

Coming from a family with limited resources influenced my decision to graduate one year early so I could save money on tuition. This experience helped me develop independent learning and time management skills. I took two 5-week online summer classes one summer and it was very intense but also taught me how to learn on my own since there were no professors synchronously teaching the class, it was basically just me and the textbook. I have also taken five classes instead of four the past three semesters, which helped me develop time management skills. Being a commuter student also helped with time management skills because I always had to give myself enough time to get to campus in case there was any traffic and be on time to work after.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out that you wish you had when you started?

Don’t be afraid to try new things, like an on-campus job or a club. Everyone in the Drew community is very friendly, supportive, and there to help you. For commuter students, I recommend always trying to find the time to stay on campus a little longer if there is an opportunity to work on homework or study with fellow classmates. It’s a great opportunity to get to know people.

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I hope to get a job that combines business and data, such as a business intelligence analyst. In 5 years I hope I will own my own house, have 2 or 3 dogs, and possibly be involved in real estate investment too.

Do you have any fun facts you would like to share?

I’ve been playing the violin for over 10 years and have played in the Abbey Orchestra at the Delbarton School in Morristown, NJ for the past four years.

I can also identify almost any dog breed on the spot because as a kid I would study dog breeds for fun (I really love dogs).

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