Home planet SOM, sophomore style
Every fall the Isenberg School of Management prints its New Faces directory, with photos and names of all entering students. Beneath each name is a single word the student has provided as a description.
Last year, Jake Chuseds word was whitty. He coined the term to describe his sense of humor lighthearted with a dollop of sarcasm. A year and a half later, at our request, he offers an update.
(In that time hes become president of SOMs undergraduate leadership council, a worker in its undergraduate placement office, a mentor to incoming students, a Bemis Corporation Scholarship winner, and maintained a GPA of just under 4.0, all while serving as treasurer of his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi.)
Now, says Chused without hesitation, his word would be determined. The sophomore from Concord is one of those students who could have gone anywhere, says Dennis Hanno 90G, SOMs undergraduate dean. But he came out here and he liked what he saw. Whatever first impression we made was obviously very positive. In fact, says Chused, it was Hanno himself who tipped the scales. Dennis is one of the major reasons I came here even though Id applied all over, to Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Yale, Tufts, UMass.
Theres a reason Chused lists UMass last: This was the safety school, he acknowledges. But when it came down to decision time he lifts his shoulders. My mom said Just in case, lets go out to UMass. The family called to say they were coming to an open house, and Hanno set up a personal meeting with them. Chused, already impressed by SOMs national ranking and selectivity, was further impressed by the attention. That meeting, and Hannos obvious enthusiasm about the school and Chuseds potential place in it, sold him.
To Hanno, Chused represents, if not a new type of student, at least a type thats becoming more common at UMass in general and SOM in particular in recent years. Theyre the result of the increased selectivity: We accept only 35 percent of applicants now, says Hanno. This is a recent phenomenon.
Also in his first year Chused began working in SOMs undergraduate placement office where, hell tell you, you get to see everything, including just how much a UMass degree is worth. Working there is amazing, he says. You see all the kids coming through, who is getting jobs for what reason just sort of everything in perspective. Hes not surprised by the schools much-touted placement rate: More than 200 of last years grads were hired directly through the placement office, at an average starting salary of $37,000. SOM students are all pretty different, but we know where were headed, says Chused. A lot of kids in this school are motivated by success, and know what we need to do and get it done.
Chused is one whos definitely motivated by success. With a 4.0 his first semester and a 3.6 his second (Pledging, he explains, but thats not bad for a pledge) he began casting around for more ways to get involved. The opportunity arrived in the mail over the summer an invitation to join U-Lead, the schools new undergraduate leadership council.
Letters had gone out to all the schools 1,500 undergraduates; Hanno expected perhaps a dozen responses. He received close to 200. Chused sees this as indicative of the school itself theres a really strong sense of community and enthusiasm. He was subsequently elected president by the membership.
U-Lead is an advisory board to the school, says Chused, and that involves more than picking colors for the new wing. The council has started getting to the nitty-gritty in curricular matters; its academic assessment committee, for instance, figures out which classes have issues and what needs to be done. Were given a lot of opportunity to take the school where we want it to go.
Chused has also had the chance to see SOM alumni in action. He attended the Business Advisory Council meeting in November and was impressed with members willingness to give their time. As a student, its really good to know alumni care this much about their school, he says. Even aside from the donations they make, which are great, its important and necessary to give back, even if its just coming back and voicing your opinions. Chused expects to do so himself: Im very loyal, he says. One hundred percent, I see myself coming back.
After all, hell want to see the progress. Groundbreaking for the new addition was held in November; therell be a new computer lab, interview rooms for recruiters, a new lounge. A new information technology minor will be in place. Perhaps some of U-Leads recommendations will be also. I think a large part of the schools future is a collaborative effort between the way its running now and the way students want it to be, says Chused. Kids who come a few years from now will be in a fantastic position. But I think that to be here now, when were able to play a role in the process, is unique. I get to be one of the movers and shakers.
Chuseds major is finance operations management, and ideally, hed like to work in upper management of professional sports some day. Hanno calls him a CEO in the making. When this is repeated to Jake he tries unsuccessfully to keep his smile to a minimum. Finally he chuckles, as if giving in to this fate: I can see that, I can definitely see that.
For now, though, hes just learning all he can from the school he fondly calls the Home Planet.
My school is SOM, Chused says. I cant imagine if I wasnt in SOM, what it would be like. He pauses. I wouldnt have a home.
Karen Skolfield 98G