Student Spotlight: Kayla Kozak

Senior Kayla Kozak knew exactly what she was going to do with her career since the age of 3. All of her experiences and even her education prepared her to pursue a professional career in golf. After attending a private golf academy in high school, she signed to join University of Central Florida‘s golf team. Everything was going according to plan…until the demands of her commitments and pressure to excel made her question everything. 

Kayla decided to “restart” by transferring to CofC after her freshman year and switching her major from psychology and communication to business administration with a minor in economics. Though she turned from her lifelong dream, she discovered herself in the process. The switch to a smaller campus size allowed Kayla to engage in diverse experiences that has shaped where she is nowFor instance, her involvement in Kappa Alpha ThetaImpact X, Young Life, PRISM, club tennis, being an Econ Scholar, interning with Wild Dunes Resort, interning at Charleston Country Parks and Recreation, and her study abroad experience in Australia have all allowed her to learn more about her interests while engaging in professional development. 

Perhaps the most influential factor in her process of self-discovery is the mentorship she received through Impact X, an entrepreneurship program provided by the School of Business that brings students from different majors together to create startup companies based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Through this experience, Kayla worked with students majoring in studio art and computer science to develop a produccalled Hydro Hub, an automatic plant watering system. 

You place the device in the soil and based on soil moisture levels it will release water from the glass reservoir. It also connects to your IOT device where users can keep track of their devices and plants on our app. It is designed for travelers, those with a second home, or innovators looking to try out the latest technology.”  

Kayla and her team placed 2nd in competition out of 6 teams and won a monetary award to invest in the product. This experience contributed to her confidence in her career search, and she considers it to be the most substantial experience in her undergraduate career. What she learned through this experience has impacted the direction of her career. 

I learned in starting a business that in order to be a good leader you have to practice active listening and keep your eye on the big picture. My leadership style has changed to one where I observe gaps in the process, manage deadlines, and serve as the spokesperson for the group. You get out what you put in. If you are the silent person, you will get by, but if you take initiative, you will thrive and learn more about yourself.” 

In the process of self-discovery through Impact X and other campus involvement, Kayla has decided to pursue a career in businesses that have client facing roles with team building responsibilities. In fact, she has secured a position with PepsiCo/Frito Lay as a Supply Chain Associate where she will assist with individual and team development while supervising others. She will have the opportunity to participate in various components of project management while solving operational issues. She will also have exposure to various departments within the company to gain deeper company understanding and increase in responsibility.

Although she did not pursue a professional career in golf like she had always imagined, Kayla has discovered her true interests and has set herself up to succeed in her future career.

 

-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Student Spotlight: Ethan Bain

Growing up in the Bahamas, Student Employee of the Year Ethan Bain wanted to attend college in a place that felt like home. At College of Charleston, he found just that. Along with the beautiful subtropical campus and moderate class size, Ethan found his niche as he chose his major.

Freshman year was challenging for Ethan as he adjusted to life in college. He found himself only going to class and then going straight home to study, which made it difficult to make friends. He changed his major multiple times before landing on economics with a minor in business administration and data science. Once he found the right fit with his major, things started falling into place. Classes became truly engaging for him, he was able to start making connections with friends, and he landed a job as a Peer Advisor in the Academic Advising and Planning Center. Through this position, Ethan has been able to help students going through the exact same thing he experienced as he changed his major.

In Ethan’s student employee position, he meets with students individually to answer questions related to academics and walks them through how to make decisions.

“Often times, students come in with a lot of stuff going on, and they worry about classes. After they come in and have the meeting, you can visibly see a weight lifted off their shoulders. It makes me happy to know I’m helping them achieve their goals.”

Ethan excelled in this position and became the recipient of the 2020 Student Employee of the Year award! Ethan practiced and honed his skillset to help him succeed in this position, and says:

“Put others before yourself. When you’re working, especially in my position working with a team, it’s not so much about you; it’s about what’s important for the entire team. Don’t be afraid to voice your own opinion because it is important to have your voice heard, but you should make decisions ultimately to benefit to the team.”

Ethan takes his role seriously and has grown to understand the significance that student employees have at the College.

“We take a tremendous load off the professional advisors which gives them the opportunity to see more students. I also work in the Center for Student Learning, and in that role, we meet with students and help them have a better outcome in their class. Their grade in that class may determine if they get to keep their scholarship or not. I know how important that is.”

Not only does Ethan’s role as a student employee allow him to help others, but it is also preparing him for his career aspirations to go into economic and policy research in order to advise governments on monetary policy. He hopes to apply his advising skills on a larger scale by advising governments. Finding the right fit for his major has led him to succeed at CofC and has prepared him to enter a profession he is excited about.

2020 Student Employee of the Year, Ethan Bain, receiving a plaque recognizing his reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and contribution to his department.

 

-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor