FEATURED STUDENT: MELISSA DUONG

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CB: Tell us a little bit about your background. As Lizzie McLean (Sport Management ’13) asked, “do you have a cat? What’s the cat’s name? What’s your favorite color?” On a serious note, are you from Memphis? Did you grow up here or travel?

MD: I am 100% Memphian born at the Methodist Hospital downtown. I have never lived anywhere else and I pride myself in coming from a city of great music, food, and people.

Yes, I do have a cat. My cat’s name is Spooky and I dressed her up as a ghost for Halloween.

My favorite color at the moment is anything pastel. Light purple, turquoise, lime green… it changes from time to time depending on my mood. Ask me in a month and I’ll give you a different answer.

CB: Why did you want to major in marketing? What made you choose CBU?

MD: I wanted to major in something that I felt very strongly about. I knew I wanted to primarily stay in the School of Business, but I had no idea what to concentrate in. With the help of Jenny Cowell, I had two informational interviews with different advertising agencies around Memphis. After that, I knew marketing was my calling and I have been obsessed ever since.

CB: We heard you completed a marketing internship at First Tennessee Bank downtown over the summer 2012 semester working as a “B2B and Wealth Marketing Intern,” and inquiring minds, such as Catherine DelBove (Accounting ’13), would like to hear all about it. What can you tell us about the internship?

MD: First and foremost, can I point out that I never imagined myself working for a bank? When you think of marketing, the last thing you think of is marketing for financial services. I had always seen First Tennessee around my community and had heard they were a wonderful company to work for. When I saw their company pop up on CBU’s NACE Link, I jumped on the chance and filled out an application immediately.

During the summer, I worked under two marketing managers, one in Business-to-Business and the other in Wealth Management. I worked on more than 30 projects from creating sales sheets, pitch books and flyers, updating the FTB.com website, creating web ads for various FT products and services, event planning for a high profile client event, research that corresponded to a new marketing campaign (this was my most important project), and much more (I have a spreadsheet of projects available on request). The intern program coincided with the Memphis Leadership Academy so I also got to attend awesome events around the Memphis area and network with executives of various companies. It was the most amazing experience, and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to join such a wonderful program.

CB: Are you involved with campus life? Tell us a little about your experience with campus activities, groups, fraternities/sororities, etc., and what it means to you.

MD: I am heavily involved with two organizations, Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Sigma Pi.

Growing up, I never had a sister (even though I begged my parents…. I would find out later that you cannot choose the gender of your siblings). When I started my freshman year, my roommate mentioned the sororities on campus, but I never really thought anything of it. We both decided to go through recruitment together and it was the best decision I have ever made. Joining ZTA has opened up major possibilities for me that I would have never imagined for myself. Through them, I gained leadership skills, developed my personal character, and overall discovered who and what I wanted to be as a person.

When sophomore year came around and I became more enveloped with business classes, I decided to rush DSP. Through DSP I learned more about the business side of, well, everything. With the professional events my chapter hosts and LEAD, I have gained so much insight into the business world from networking to business etiquette. Having a leadership role in an ever-growing organization, such as Deltasig, has given me the motivation to make positive change, not only through the Epsilon Psi chapter, but in my life.

CB: Have you done any volunteer work or performed community service through any of the organizations you’ve been involved with?

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CB:Beth Adkison (Accounting ’12) wants to know, “Who is your inspiration? Who has taught you the most?”

MD: My inspiration is my mentor, Miss Martha Beard. I have known her since I was eight years old, and she has definitely made a huge impact in my life. From my choice of college to my career she has influenced me so much in large life decisions. Seeing that she is so successful in her career and in the Memphis community has made me realize that I could do so much more than just having a full time job.

CB: You’ve been working as a social media project specialist in the work/study program for the School of Business, as the B2B and Wealth Marketing Intern at First Tennessee, and were recently named Vice President of Delta Sigma Pi’s Epsilon Psi chapter. How do you think these experiences have been valuable to your future career path?

MD: All these experiences have taught me to: 1) Be accountable for my actions, and 2) Take the initiative. Being in these roles, I have realized that in the real world, people want to get things done. There is no time to sit around and wait for something to happen; you have to do it yourself. Opportunities aren’t just going to wait for you to take them; you have to try your hardest to be the opportunity before it is available to everyone else to take.

CB: Do you consider yourself a leader, follower, or independent innovator? Why? And how has this affected you at work and in the classroom?

MD: I would say that in new situations, I tend to be a follower. I observe what is being done and why it is being done and assess the situation. Once I get familiar with my surroundings and learn the background info then I slowly make my way to voicing my opinion more and gain more responsibility from my supervisors.

CB: What are your plans and goals for life after college? How has CBU helped you on the way to achieving those goals?

MD: My plan after college, like any other college student, is to find a full time job. I would prefer to work in marketing with an advertising agency or a marketing department for a large company. After that, I want to go back to school to get my MBA.

CBU has helped me realize that there is more to attending college than just getting a degree, it’s about the relationships you form with people on the way there. I would not be in the position I am now without the support I have gotten from the people here at CBU.

CB: Looking back at all that you’ve learned and experienced, what advice would you give to a first-time freshman?

MD: Reputation is everything. You will be very surprised at how many people you know and how many people will talk poorly about you if you do something questionable. Memphis is a “small” big city and CBU is smaller. You might meet someone who just talked to one of your worst enemies and now has made an assumption about you before you even shake their hand. A quote I always adhere to is: “Be careful how you treat others on your way to the top because you never know who you are going to meet on your way back down.”