Dr. Porter, Glenda the Good Witch and the transformation of Elizabeth Krekel

On Friday we held our first annual Dean’s Awards recognition breakfast. Despite it being Good Friday and 7:30 am, more than 150 students, faculty, staff and Dean’s Advisory Board Members came out for the event. The idea behind these awards is to recognize people and actions that are contributing to an engaging culture in the College, one that stresses getting out of your comfort zone, risk-taking, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and data-driven decision-making.

We received over 80 nominations across ten different awards. The stiffest competition was for “Most Transformative Moment” — an instance where an interaction with a faculty member changed the course of the student’s life or got them to see the world in a different way. Fifteen different faculty members were nominated by a student for this award. Some of those fifteen faculty received nominations from multiple students. A committee of the Dean’s Advisory Board chose the winner. All of the members of the selection committee commented on how satisfying it was to read these students’ stories and how they affirmed the many great things our faculty do here each day.

Space doesn’t permit me to share all these stories with you, but the winning entry by Elizabeth Krekel is provided below:

….I had the opportunity to take Dr. Robert Porter’s Applied Strategic Management graduate course. In May, at the end of the course, the class would graduate with a Master of Business Administration.

As my classmates seemed to be confident in their abilities, I could only think of all the reasons why employers would not hire me, instead of all the reasons why employers would. I have five degrees and three certificates from six schools in three different countries and really felt unemployable. The lack of confidence is not a good foundation when seeking employment.

I sought advice from many people, but no one was able to help me on the path of self-discovery as Dr. Porter. Although he was able to see potential in me, he knew that I needed to discover it myself. In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch of the North told Dorothy that she always had the power to go back to Kansas, but she had to discover it for herself. Confidence is priceless and extremely important in the business world.

Through a series of assignments in his class and one-on-one conversations, I was able to gain confidence and to be confident with my inner self which was really transformative. My journey with self-confidence was not just one one-on-one conversation, but many and Dr. Porter was there to listen and give advice at each point in my zigzag life.

In his course, besides confidence, I also gained direction. I was able to see that I could compete with others (as team leader, I led 4 of 5 non-native English teammates to the best project in class) and I realized how much I love working with international cultures and travel.

In a career strategy paper for Dr. Porter’s class, I wrote,

“In looking at the ‘Flower Diagram,’ career and personality assessments, and my past experiences, I would enjoy the following careers: a U.S. National park ranger, a travel guide or travel book / article writer, an United Nations employee, an International trade/product broker, a Culture advisor for foreign visitors to US and vice versa, or an administrator for a non-profit organization supporting third or even second world countries.”

Since Dr. Porter’s class, I wrote a few travel guides, worked in Beijing, China for a global consulting company, and currently, work for Central Florida International Trade Office in Orlando, Florida. My current job meshes my love for international affairs with business and trade. Dr. Porter stressed the importance of finding your passion and following that passion.

I truly believe that my life the last two years would not have been as fulfilling if I had chosen a different professor for the course. I definitely would not have the career I have today without Dr. Porter’s support and advice.

Well done Dr. Porter, well done.

And a thank you to Leif Bang, Wells Fargo and Dave and Donna Patton for sponsoring our awards. I can’t wait to read next year’s.

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