The first seven MTSU students graduating from university’s Department of Marketing Professional Selling Concentration were honored recently at an inaugural stole ceremony in the Tom H. Jackson Building.
Five of these students will be able to wear the special academic regalia when they graduate at the Dec. 14 commencement at Murphy Center. These students include Christine Owens of Knoxville, Tennessee; Forrest Mason of Murfreesboro; Kayli Jones of Chattanooga; Faith Rodgers of Madison; and Drew Christiansen of Murfreesboro. The remaining two students, Caleb (Tate) Huffman of Rockvale and Amanda Post of Smyrna, will be graduating in May 2020.
Organizers of the program, which launched last year, say it involves a significant amount of hands-on learning to prepare students for a workforce increasingly in need of professionals with strong sales skills. Prior to the Nov. 19 stole ceremony, the students participated in a “speed selling” event where they completed sales role plays with local companies.
As part of the concentration, students also participated in the internal Enterprise Sales Competition in the Mel Adams State Farm Sales Lab inside the Business and Aerospace Building. Many of these students also participated in several recent out-of-state sales competitions, including the National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship and the State Farm Sales Competition.
“The sales program forced me to come out of my comfort zone, from competitions to networking events I’ve truly transformed into a confident salesperson,” said graduating senior Faith Rodgers of Madison, Tennessee, while classmate Christine Owens of Knoxville said the sales concentration “has helped prepare me for my future career in ways I hadn’t imagined.
“My biggest gratitude with the concentration is the sponsors,” Owens added. “These employers help pay for our travel and entry into competitions, help us promote the concentration, and they meet with our classes to get to know us and potentially hire us post-graduation!”
One of those key sponsors is Jamie Noe, owner and founder of Insurance Group of America who was instrumental in providing the support that allowed creation of the concentration and the establishment of the IGA Office of Professional Selling.
“It’s been an exciting journey watching this program come to fruition,” Noe said.
In addition to Insurance Group of America, other companies have provided support financially and through their volunteer efforts to help the students in the program. Other sponsors include Enterprise Holdings, Jackson, State Farm, Federated Insurance, Dell EMC, and RTS Financial.
“In fact, it is only due to the generous donations by our sponsor companies that these opportunities can be provided to students,” said Lucy Matthews, an MTSU marketing professor who teaches courses within the concentration.
Mona Hernandez from the Jackson company said the stole ceremony was “a fantastic event! We felt so proud and honored to be invited to witness and engage this excellent group of sales-driven students. We hope to continue to be part of their story going forward.”
Now looking toward a new chapter in her own professional story, graduating senior Kayli Jones of Chattanooga, Tennessee, said the sales program “has been an incredible experience that has added exponential value to my collegiate career.”
“This program has provided me the tools to stand out among my peers and to succeed in the professional world,” she added. “The opportunity to attend sales competitions and compete with other students allowed me to apply my learned classroom skills and to succeed at it. The companies I’ve been able to interact with have only added value and truly given me an inside look into the career field I can’t wait to get into.”
As his May 2020 graduation day approaches, senior Tate Huffman of Rockvale, Tennessee, said the program has provided him the confidence, instruction and training needed to be successful.
“The opportunity to compete against other schools was really exciting and it was also a tremendous learning experience,” he said. “The sales program also has connections with a ton of great companies, which has given me a jumpstart on finding a job after graduation.”
For more information about MTSU’s Department of Marketing Professional Selling Concentration, please contact professors Lucy Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org or Diane Edmondson at email@example.com.