Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finding her stride in the B-school

The state motto of Kansas is “Ad Astra per Aspera” meaning, “to the stars through difficulties.” Senior business student Kayleigh Sellens can relate to that.

Kayleigh Sellens
Sellens is a double major who will graduate from the University of Kansas this May with a degree in business administration, with concentrations in supply chain management and international business, a degree in Spanish and a minor in global and international studies. She is on track to leave KU with a 3.0 GPA, but it took some time for her to adjust to college life before she got serious about school.

By graduating in the top 20 percent of her class at Free State High School in Lawrence and scoring a 28 on the ACT, she earned a spot as a University of Kansas 2010 Mt. Oread Scholar. But that first year didn’t reflect her previous academic achievements.

“I think one of my problems was that when I started to struggle that first semester I was embarrassed and didn’t utilize the resources that Mt. Oread Scholars could have provided,” Sellens said. “I should have gone to them for help.”

Her job, where she worked almost 30 hours a week, interfered with her sophomore year by taking her focus away from school. The poor performance as an underclassman motivated her to recommit to her studies. She realized if she wanted to graduate in four years, she needed to step up her game.

“Early in her career, she was told not to pursue business because of her GPA,” said Shu Tosaka, academic advisor at the B-school. “She proved everyone wrong.”

In Sellens’ first semester as a business student, spring 2013, she enrolled in 17 credit hours at KU and six credit hours at a community college. Ever since then, she’s taken no less than 18 hours each semester, along with at least six every summer. She’s done all of this while averaging an overall GPA of 3.62.

“I’ve had to really focus on organization and time management in order to juggle such a busy schedule,” Sellens said. “This semester, I’m only taking 15 credit hours. I’m hoping it will seem like a breeze in comparison!”

Earning a double major with a minor wasn’t enough for Sellens. She wanted even more from her education at KU. Through the Spanish department, she studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for six weeks during the summer of 2012. Last summer, she spent 10 days in Panama with 14 other supply chain management students. She is also president of the Supply Chain Management Club and co-president of the KU chapter of American Business Women’s Association.

“I’ve gotten first-hand experience that I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere as an undergraduate,” she said. “I also think that I’ve gotten better at public speaking and improved my writing skills through my roles in different student organizations.”

Nearly every success story has something or someone behind the scenes helping advance the plot. For Sellens, it’s her mom, whom she describes as her number one fan.

“My mom is a huge motivator for me,” she said. “If I’m struggling with something, all I have to do is call her and she’ll remind that I’m doing the best I can and I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to accomplish all of this if it wasn’t for her.”

While attending a career fair last semester, Sellens found her dream job: working in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as a commodity manager for American Airlines. After she thought she blew her first interview, she didn’t think there was any chance that American Airlines would want a second. As Tosaka said, she’s proving everyone wrong, and in this case, that includes herself. She landed her dream job, and after graduation she is moving to Texas to begin her career in business.

by Dan Dutcher