As a young boy, I would stand on milk crates behind the cash register at my parent’s Italian restaurant. I was too short to see over the counter, too young to be near the dangerously hot ovens, and too inexperienced to answer the telephone, but this did not hinder my spirit, as I eagerly welcomed patrons and showed them to their seats. It was at this young age that I knew business was my calling. As the years passed, I no longer needed the milk crate, but my persistent inquisitiveness remained. It is because of my stubborn curiosity and untiring dedication that I successfully transitioned from a college student to a working professional and back again as I grew into myself and realized my true passion — research and education.
As a naïve but ambitious undergraduate at Youngstown State University, I sat in the front row of Marketing 300, notebook and pen in hand, eager to learn “the secrets” to marketing — a topic I found most interesting. Quickly, I realized these secrets were much more involved than I had previously thought. What I did not realize, until years later, is what a profound influence my marketing professor, Dr. Cynthia Anderson, would have on my career objectives and me as a marketing scholar. I admired her contributions both on and off-campus and her commitment to education and helping students. She fed my appetite for knowledge in marketing and business theory and ignited my desire to join academia and impassion other young minds in marketing. After graduating from the Williamson College of Business in 2005, I kept in contact with Dr. Anderson as she remained an influential mentor as I pursued my career in industry.
To gain professional experience, I applied for and accepted a management opportunity in hospitality. While working at a full-service, resort hotel, I was quickly promoted through the ranks to General Manager, assuming forecasting, marketing, and sales responsibilities. In this role, I was involved with the community and was integral in forming a tourism board to promote the place I called home. As a founding board member of the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau, I served in leadership positions and helped allocate a budget to market the county and run the organization. This was an incredibly rewarding opportunity for me because of an unending dedication to and sense of pride in my hometown. It was a privilege to contribute to the progress and promotion of my community. After gaining experience in applying the knowledge I acquired in college, I decided it was time to return to school and advance my understanding of business.
The University of Akron proved to be the perfect fit for me to pursue my M.B.A. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant and work closely with outstanding marketing faculty, including Dr. Deborah Owens. After graduating with a focus in Strategic Marketing in 2008, I was approached by Dr. Hausknecht, the Chair of the Marketing Department at The University of Akron, to teach a course in Consumer Behavior. After teaching my first class, I ended up teaching an additional 13 classes over the next three years! I am so appreciative to have had such caring and involved mentors to guide me down the path of success.
As a first-generation college graduate, I will always remember the hard work and sacrifice my parents made to help me achieve my dreams. I have been so fortunate to have a wonderful family support system to guide and encourage me. My parents instilled in me at a young age the importance of education. Today, I find myself offering the same advice to my students, urging them to work hard and pursue the power of knowledge. Education is truly a lifelong pursuit and I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to dedicate my life's work to educating others--both through my research and in the classroom.