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Cody Sumpter ’11 writes about his experiences in his First-Year Seminar

Cody Sumpter ’11 (Branchburg, N.J.) is currently taking the First-Year Seminar “Entrepreneurial Environment: Exploring Innovation, Risk and Value.” The course is taught by Rose Marie Bukics, Jones Professor of Economics & Business. The economics and business major is also a member of the golf team.

The rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins as my mini-racecar traveled 45 miles-per-hour around the sharpest of turns is a feeling that I won’t soon forget.

The first of two field trips for Professor Bukics’ First-Year Seminar (FYS) class was to Lehigh Valley Grand Prix, an indoor racing facility. My envious friends badgered me about what indoor racing had to do with any class. My reply was consistent, “First-Year Seminar is more than a class, it’s an experience.” The dictionary definition of experience is “practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity.” My FYS, “Entrepreneurial Environment,” certainly exemplifies this meaning. The opportunities, knowledge, and relationships developed in my FYS all add to my remarkable experience.

The learning environment has been challenging and unlike any I have previously known. Professor Bukics has employed a wide variety of methods to enhance our education. We have watched several movies about entrepreneurship, including one based on the Virgin Corporation’s founder Richard Branson, played the “Risky Business” board game, listened to a guest speaker (successful entrepreneur and Lafayette graduate, Charles Abrams ’92), read multiple books and business case studies, and, of course, participated in the aforementioned field trip.

The classroom atmosphere provides each student with the ability to become engaged in the discussions. A typical class consists of in-depth and animated conversations, not simply lecturing and taking notes. We have even had class over lunch several times. My FYS classroom experience has been nothing short of enlightening.

However, more importantly, “Entrepreneurial Environment” has had a great impact on me outside of the classroom. One of the common themes we have noted is that successful entrepreneurs are proficient at building strong relationships. Professor Bukics has not only built a strong relationship with every student by making herself available eight hours a week for help and friendly discussion, but she also facilitates relationship-building with other faculty and entrepreneurs.

For example, the day Mr. Abrams gave his presentation to the class, Professor Bukics provided the opportunity for two students to eat lunch with Mr. Abrams and her. I was privileged to be one of the two students. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet a successful entrepreneur and appreciate the amount of hard work and dedication it took to make his company prosperous. Thanks to “Entrepreneurial Environment” and Professor Bukics, I have created a relationship that has the potential to open doors in my future.

Professor Bukics’ FYS has taught me valuable life skills that I will take with me throughout my time at Lafayette and beyond. In addition to building relationships, I have learned how to acknowledge others’ ideas and constructively criticize. The idea lab, where everyone shares their ideas for a new product, requires us to listen to and appreciate everyone’s product proposals. If not, we are forced to throw out “money” in the pot.

On a more scholarly note, my FYS is demanding more critical thinking, reading, and writing. I have already written several challenging papers based on class readings. Acquiring these skills has promoted my academic progression.

My FYS experience had exceeded all of my initial expectations. It has provided more unique opportunities for me to learn, witness, and develop as a person than I ever imagined.

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