Professional Value Statement

11080563_10153248625793824_1357448054909927795_oAnother speech I had the honor to give at the Board of Trustees Dinner with the Champlain College Class of 2015, Alumni and Faculty and Staff. Here is what I learned from my 4 years studying at Champlain:

So far my personal experience as a student, young professional and traveler has been very unique. The most valuable things I learned came from not only my professors, business courses, my study abroad programs and travels, but from my fellow classmates and the people I have met worldwide that reassured my trust in humanity. Their experience and the stories they have shared with me helped me realized three things to succeed not only in a college setting but in my own personal and professional life:

1. Have a strong heart and an open mind.Hintergrund

Before I started my extensive global experience, I tried to prepare myself as best as I could. I checked the average weather in each location. I extensively read about their cultural contexts. I watched videos and reviews of being an expat in a specific country. I followed blogs of students who were studying abroad in the perspective countries. I did everything I could to avoid any sort of surprise. And even though I could defer my culture shock, I still got it. At points I felt lost, helpless and uncomfortable. Sometimes I even felt like I had no control over anything. In China for example, my culture shock got so intense that I was questioning every life decision I had made. Was I in the right industry? Was I taking advantage of the right opportunities? Is this making me happy? Will this help me grow?

It took time, but as I self-reflected about what I truly stood for, my values and morals, I had a better time comparing those to the culture I was in, and accept them as they are. There is no right or wrong, there are just two sides of situation.

Sometimes you can feel lost and unsure about your next move, your next job, or just your next chapter in life. And even now, as I am approaching graduation I realized that there is nothing as powerful as a strong heart that not only allows your heart to shine but an open mind that keeps you flexible enough to adapt to any situation. And if there is one thing I know, it’s that change is inevitable, and having not only a strong heart but an open mind will be beneficial.

2. Be courageous enough to make lemonade.

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Going into higher education, I knew I wanted to travel, but I couldn’t have foreseen the vast opportunities in front of me. While I was taught that the world is my oyster, it’s almost overwhelming with all the possibilities out there. Could I really do anything I want anywhere I want it? Obviously there are more components in play to answer that questions. But the first step is courage. Yes, there are many opportunities. Some might not be presented to you at the time you are seeking them, but they are there. I never would have guessed that I would have the opportunity to work in China, live in Spain, discover Ireland, and travel to 10 countries in 2 years. But there it was, an opportunity. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have the courage to take advantage of that experience.

I understand it can be difficult to find out where and what you want to do with your life, even when the lemons life gave you are right in front of you. With a little bit of courage I was able to take advantage of the opportunities I never before dared to do. My college’s motto “Audeamus” – “Let us dare” is now imbedded in me and I hope I continue finding courage to continue my journey to grad school in Europe.

3. Last but not least: Learn the importance of community.

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If you study the life of any notable person, you’ll find that the main character operates within a web of support. As tempting as it is to believe that we are the sole heroes of our own stories, we are enmeshed in cities, companies, families and institutions like Champlain College who shape and help us. I am grateful of everyone’s contribution to my local and global experience and to have had the opportunity to have meet some amazing influential people that I hope continue being my community, my support system and my friends, even when our paths may part.

For more information, check out my Personal Value Statement Page

Gender Stereotyping in Marketing – Exploring the implications through the major methods of ethical analysis

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Gender stereotyping has been an ethical controversy as it is inevitably linked with marketing. As it can be seen as a method to focus onto the target market and its specific segments, its implications are detrimental. Nowadays, everyone has experienced the impact of advertising, some more than others. Yet, marketers also have a lot of social power over perpetuating and challenging stereotypes. This paper will explore the female gender stereotyping in today’s marketing through case studies, using utilitarianism, deontology or virtue ethics, its implications and the changes in marketing trends to reverse negative stereotypes.

Case Study 1: Nine West

The first case study is about the brand Nine West, which mostly produces shoes. Its recent marketing campaign in 2014 was widely criticized by consumers and the media. With their slogans such as “Husband Hunting,” “Walk of Shame,” and “Drunch,” which implies drunk lunch, the campaign suggests that women are single mindedly oriented on the dependency of a male significant other, are to be shamed when there is an interaction with that man, and are so bored that a weekly brunch turns into a drinking session. Meanwhile, the campaign is missing the fact that today’s women are hunting for success, goals, dreams and visions – not husbands.

From a deontological perspective, considering the ethics of freedom and dignity, this campaign was working against fostering, preserving and respecting the fundamental humanity. In contrary, its marketing suggests that women now think they have a very specific, and outdated social role to step into (no pun intended), choose to go husband hunting and act to buy shoes for this occasion.

Personally, I agree with the deontological perspective. The Nine West strategy is outdated and its implications are single minded. As if women only buy a new pair of designer shoes in occasions such as hunting for a man or taking the children to school. It’s upsetting that Nine West thinks it’s alright to assume every woman thinks one dimensional. I think that the strategy could have been successful, if the occasions of buying new shoes were along the lines of “New day as CEO,” “Walk of Pride” or “Gaining Independence.”

Case Study 2: Victoria’s Secret

The lingerie company’s latest marketing campaign for their product called “Body by Victoria,” shows 10 thin models with the slogan written over them “The Perfect ‘Body.’” As these three words in combination with women that represent a body type that less than 5% of the female population has and can healthily obtain, promotes negative body image. Having a negative body image together with a pressure of obtaining “the perfect body” can lead to much more and detrimental implications. This can lead to eating disorders of all kinds, self-esteem issues, and insecurity.

As this is a topic that personally reaches me, I have a strong opinion about this specific campaign. I agree with the 10,000 signatures of a petition against the campaign, that this is causing more harm than good to any woman at any age. After this petition that started in the UK has reach a global wide trending issue, the company quickly changed its slogan to “A Body for Every Body.” Strangely enough, the slogan of their 2012 campaign was “I love my body.” Within two years Victoria’s Secret went from empowerment to destruction of a healthy body image.

The utilitarianism perspective focuses its measure of right or wrong on the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. I agree in aspect to “The Perfect ‘Body’” campaign, that Victoria’s secret has harmed the greatest number of women. By displaying women with a body type that only 5% of the female population has, it promotes something unachievable for the rest 95% of us. I also think that the concept of negative body image has gone beyond just displaying an unattainable goal. It is now a deeply imbedded issue, it is suggesting that we women ought to have a certain type of body, no matter what the rest of the human being may be, think or do.

Case Study 3: Always

Always recent marketing campaign #LikeaGirl from 2014/2015 is not focused on the product, but their target audience, women who have been influenced my advertisements and society to think their body and entire potential is minimal. The advertisement states “You are incredible. You are unstoppable. And you do thinks #LikeaGirl” to change the meaning of “like a girl” from an insult into something positive and amazing. Especially inspiring was the Superbowl commercial that portrayed different ages of women and girls who were asked to do something “like a girl”. As the older young women would do these actions exaggerated, ditsy and almost embarrassingly humiliating, the younger girls would do thinks “like a girl” by doing them as best as they could, whether that is running fast, throwing far or fighting hard. This emphasizes Always’ question “When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?”

From a virtue ethics perspective, everyone, including companies come to a point where they have to choose between the right way and easy way. Always chose the right way, as they are no longer promoting their product to make profit, but supported self-acceptance and pride to reach their target market, Women. The results showed that 76% of girls’ ages 16-24 no longer see the phrase “like a girl” as an insult and two out of three men who watched the commercial said they would stop or think twice before using “like a girl” like an insult.

At this point, I would personally say that marketing doesn’t necessarily have a special obligation to challenge or undermine stereotypes, however, in my opinion they would be more successful. In the end it is not about what the commercial said, or what the product does, but how the brand makes the customer feel that creates a connection between the company and their target markets. And as a young female professional, I already strongly associate myself with those brands that do challenge female gender stereotyping.

My personal opinion

As I sometimes feel like a victim of negative gender stereotyping, I would like to take this moment to discuss my opinion about the creation of campaigns that miscommunicate their intentions. It’s important to note that there just isn’t one definition of the female body. In respects of the campaigns, Nine West and Victoria’s Secret, I speculate who made these advertisements and to whom they actually were tailored to. If it is a case that the campaigns were designed by the opposite sex, and without additional support by the female marketers, miscommunication is inevitable.

There has always been a miscommunication between the genders about perceptions of the complex issue of body image. In regards to communication, I’d like to take the liberty to assume that many men might feel women don’t tell them directly enough if they are doing something wrong, and many women feel that men don’t tell them directly enough if they are doing well. This means that not only is our perception of each other off balance, but so is our communication. Men and women simply have different styles of communicating, different languages almost. So if the true goal was not just self-expression but communications, then it’s not enough for language to be right; it has to be shared, or at least understood.

But let’s assume that for this paper we all are after self-expression? How can you successfully express yourself, if your perception of yourself is altered by how others look at you? As an inspiration to this ethical controversy, I took a look at Jean Kilbourne’s documentary of “Killing Us Softly,” where she explained how the media has altered how we look at ourselves and how my own way of looking at myself isn’t really mine. The media has influenced me by comparing myself and my body not only to women that represent less than 5% of the population, but to bodies that through Photoshop don’t even exist in reality.

So how can this bring any happiness to the 95% excluded women when we all see over 3,000 ads per day? Some companies have already taken a step into changing the direction of marketing campaigns, such as Dove’s campaign for “Real Beauty” and Always “Like a Girl” campaign.

Personally, the recent Always campaign has impacted me the most, as it inspired me to change the phrase “like a girl” from an offence to a praise. It promotes the exact opposite as the Victoria’s Secret campaign, and goes beyond their profit. It is ethically right to take the courage and address issues that aren’t easy to solve, such as gender stereotyping. Changing not only society’s perspective of women’s roles, but the language and our ways of communicating with each other, is difficult. Always definitely took a risk with this campaign. However, I think it’s refreshing and encouraging to finally see someone take a nationwide stance on the imperfections of our society. Especially the United States likes to think their improvements on equality are above and beyond global status, it isn’t perfect. I am happy to see the trends reverting to something more relatable to find confidence in one self.

Stu McGowan – Speaking from Experience

10551111_10152302299967887_5974414784134769356_nThe moment Stu McGowan stepped into the classroom in his bright orange snow jacket, with his bright yellow hair and a heart shaped tattoo behind his ear, he already had the whole classes’ attention. The fact that his embrace with Elaine and their warm but short conversation was so welcomed, showed us that this is someone she knows and trusts. Someone that will have much more to offer than just professional insight on an industry.

I don’t want to call it a presentation from Stu McGowan, but a class session about our future and some little advice now that we are all approaching Graduation. His brief life-story was anything but a tale of woe. His background was anything but linear. More like an eclectic complementation of travel experiences, acquired skills and connection of people. Beside his upbringing in Japan, his sporadic education at UVM and his videography for educational purposes, I was mostly intrigued by his “real” estate business that he establish in the North End of Burlington, VT. His business was more than just an industry. He was surrounded by need so the only thing he could have done was help. So he fixed up houses and rented them out to those in need. He also trained community members to renovate, who would then train others. He created real houses, real homes for real people.

The main reason he may have been so successful was because every single thing he did was helping the community. And if that is not lesson to live by, I don’t know what is.

However, he also made some very good comments that made me think about my own life more than of those surrounding me. We seniors are approaching graduation and an opportunity to really do what we think is right, not just easy. As it is myself who I wake up to and myself who I go to bed with, it is only fair to create a life for myself where I can wake up and go to bed happily. Stu reinforced that the next chapter in life shouldn’t necessarily be scary, but be anticipated.

There are some hard facts we can’t ignore:

  • Salary jobs are not reality anymore, because they are not stable nor will they last. There is nothing bad about working to make money and maybe pay off some of those student loans, but we shouldn’t get stuck in the little bee environment, where we work all day to live a life we don’t have time to enjoy.
  • Considering the interconnected global state us graduates are facing, it almost seems like we have endless options to travel to and settle down. But unless we keep flexible with that, it will be hard to find the job we want.
  • We won’t get the job we want initially. And by the time we do get it, it might not be the job we want then. Change is inevitable and so are changes in goals. This should not be feared but embraced.

These hard facts should not stop you from doing whatever you want. Why not do what you want to do when you want to do it? Why not take this opportunity to physically expand our horizons? Why not now? Why not be the person you want to be?

As Thomas Edison said: “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

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Leadership Inspirations Spring 2015: Angela Merkel and Jack Ma

Leadership Inspiration

Leadership Inspiration

I would like to share two of my current leadership inspirations: Angela Merkel and Jack Ma. Although from different backgrounds and industries, I believe that both leaders have key characteristics that shed insight on important qualities of leadership.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany and has overseen the Eurozone Crisis and regarded by many as the driving force for the strength and continued unification of Germany and of the European Union. For me, Angela Merkel’s leadership is marked by her curiosity, humility, and trustworthiness, along with developing those around her.

Because she was trained as a chemist, with no previous experience in politics, she has an analytical mind, reviewing as much information and evidence as possible before coming to a conclusion. By doing so, she is a leader who listens to those around her and involves others to make the most informed decision, based on what her people actually want. Angela is also extremely humble for the German people. She regularly voices that any success she may achieve is because “We did it together”, implying that her accomplishments are actually an accomplishment of the entire country.

She also is trustworthy as she has proven to make the right decisions in the past for Germany and they trust her to continue to do so. In terms of actions, Angela Merkel does not order or force others to do what she wants, nor does she use Germany’s power to affect other nations. Instead, she simply sets parameters, and then lets everybody else make ‘choices’ themselves, promoting and helping to develop the leadership in other European countries. More than that, she behaves as a role model for the German people, who then can set a good example for the rest of Europe and the world. The result is that Angela Merkel was named “The Most Powerful Woman in the World” by Forbes Magazine in 2014, with Germany increasingly seen as the country to turn to in Europe.

Jack Ma

My other role model currently is Jack Ma (Ma Yun), the founder, former CEO and current Chairman of the Board of Alibaba Group. His leadership is defined by his determination, ability to influence others, and his visionary nature.

Jack Ma is a very perseverant leader. He started with almost nothing to his name, coming from a family with no influence in Chinese society and continually overcame obstacles in life to end up creating one of the most successful Chinese companies. He also had the important trait of being able to influence others and inspire his employees into pursuing opportunities even though they seemed uncertain. He is a visionary, with the ability to anticipate changes within the technology industry and lead his company accordingly.

Jack Ma has refined his leadership by acting in a way that has inspired many. When starting the e-commerce business Alibaba in 1999, he described his vision of the new trend to several employees and successfully convinced them to stay with the company. Yet, he realized that all hiring decisions should be based on attitudes rather than abilities. He noticed that the people with the greatest expertise left but those with medium expertise believed more in the company. Most of these employees are now the VPs and directors of Alibaba.

Perhaps most telling, however, is that when Alibaba expanded globally, Jack Ma resigned as the CEO, realizing that someone else could do a better job than him and benefit the company more. His vision for the company was going beyond what he could do himself. As a result of Jack Ma’s leadership style and actions, Alibaba is considered one of the most valuable technology companies today. In addition to various other recognitions, in 2008, Barron’s named him as one of the ‘World’s Best CEOs’ and he has frequently been compared to Apple’s Steve Jobs. Jack Ma is a leader and role model for young people throughout China, inspiring them to overcome their own obstacles in life.

Although Angela Merkel and Jack Ma have different backgrounds and different styles, I found three insights about leadership styles from them; the importance of having a shared mindset, leading through change, and promoting leadership throughout.

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For a shared mindset, I have seen how Angela takes the responsibility of being a role model for German people, who will then share the mindset and set a good example for the rest of Europe. Her policy decisions are based on the shared mindset of Germany, because she listens to their needs.

With Jack Ma, he was able to influence others to see the same vision of the future that he did, sharing a culture throughout the company of innovation, and he continually communicated this to his employees. Both Angela and Jack are effective leaders through change as well. Angela’s analytical mind allows for her to change her position on key issues if she is provided evidence supporting it, and is then able to implement the new policy in a way that is accepted by her people, as they trust her decisions. Jack Ma is a visionary leader who frequently was the one causing the change to his industry, constantly looking for the business opportunities of tomorrow, and he was successfully able to bring his company with him by creating the right mindset within.

Finally, Angela and Jack are excellent leaders in their ability to promote leadership throughout. Angela has sought to help other leaders make informed decisions without forcing them, in addition to inspiring her own people to be the best they can and set examples, becoming leaders themselves. Jack Ma created new leaders within his company by rewarding those who believed in the vision. He is also a role model for the youth of China and promotes their personal leadership by showing how to overcome obstacles in life, and that having dreams is more important than work alone. Both leaders are role models in their own countries and are models for me to use for my own future leadership styles.

Adulthood 101

There are times where I am really proud of the things I have accomplished:

  • I’ve traveled to 29 countries
  • I speak two languages fluently and a third one proficiently
  • I’ve had several jobs and internships domestically and abroad
  • I make great pancakes

And yet, there are some things I am still struggling with.

  1. I go to the grocery store to buy healthy things, get hungry half way through and buy frozen pizza for dinner.Easy Weeknight Meals - As you walk into your #apartment after a long day at the office, the last thing you probably want to do is cook #dinner. While there’s no shame in popping a frozen pizza in the oven every now and then, you can prepare easy weeknight #meals–even if you’re on a budget (and we don’t mean heating up another packet of ramen noodles). Try these quick healthy recipes to give your microwave a break and increase the deliciousness-factor of your evening meal. [Rent.com Blog]
  2. When I do end up eating a healthy meal, I reward myself with a cookie (or five).'Today Me will live in the Moment, unless it is Unpleasant, in which case I will eat a Cookie', Cookie Monster Quote.  I'm with you : )
  3. I can never finish my lettuce. Some of it always ends up turning brown in the bottom of my drawer of my refrigerator.dinner should probably be sometime healthy since we've been eating junk the whole trip.  we had lettuce on our burgers last night.  you picked it off.  it left its essence.
  4. For a third of the month I make all the best decisions for myself: healthy food, going to the gym, reading a book. And yet, I reward myself each time with the unhealthiest things like candy, Netflix and chocolate.
  5. I set my alarm in advance to go the gym before my day actually starts. I hit snooze and barely make it to my first class. It just wasn’t meant to be that day.
  6. When I manage to get my laundry done and put away within 24 hours, I reward myself with some chocolate.
  7. Coming back from work, I’m thinking “I’m going to read a book for fun!” I get home and get caught watching Netflix instead.
  8. Sometimes I think I really should get my life together. Within an hour I’m eating tacos at Chipotle.49 Thoughts Everyone Has At Chipotle

But here is my superpower: Sleeping the full eight hours (and more) is kind of the only healthy thing I do regularly. Naps, too! So, so, so great at sleeping. Gold medal in sleeping.

When all else fails print art print quote by DimpleLanePrints, $18.00

Small Scoop on Big Data – Speaking from Experience – David Wynn

David WynnRecently we had a speaker in our capstone class at Champlain College, introducing us to the big deal of big data.  Meet David Wynn, the Senior Product Manager in Digital Marketing Services at My Web Grocer. With his wide-ranging experiences from data analysis and digital marketing to teaching, publishing, and educational technology, he develops, operationalizes, measures, and promotes targeted digital advertising solutions for Grocery Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods clients.

As I am only introduced to Big Data, I thought I wanted to share with you 3 things I learned from him.

  1. What is Big Data?

Big data is an extremely large data sets that may be analyzed through simple models to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interaction.

Fun Fact: The amount of data is growing 4x faster than the world’s economy.

This means it’s a big step in humankind’s quest to quantify and understand the world. And with the huge amount we have, we can let the data speak for itself.

  1. Data collection, Data base and Data process

Data is collected to help business understand their customers. But with the vast amount of data that is collected, it is important to create a data base that is: Relevant, Personalized and Optimized. This can be achieved through a five step process: Identify –> Action –> Measure –> Learn –> Action. Or to state it even simpler:

Build –> Measure –> Learn –> Build

Big Data Presentation MWG

This will help business understand the consumer behavior of their customers and thereby answering questions such as: Would this person have bought this product if you haven’t shown him the ad? Does this advertising work? Especially in the current e-commerce evolution, people shop differently and for different products, and this changes a lot of aspects in Marketing.

  1. Who has my data and where did they get it?

The exchange of information between businesses has been going on even before the internet. Now we use “cookies,” which are pieces of data left on your browser. Here is how audience based targeting works using cookies:

  1. Cookie IDs are collected from site visitors (these are collected by several business or organizations)
  2. IDs are added to a cookie list, or segment
  3. Ads are shown to members of this segment
  4. Retargeted visitors are more likely to convert
  5. Qualified cookie IDs increase the effectiveness of the retargeted segment

This shows how valuable of an asset data can be to any organization, because it gives them a deeper insight on their consumers. Right now I still have some questions: Are cookies able to correlate what you are doing on the internet to your actual identity. Are cookies to most businesses just an ID to a specific browser, or is there more?

What now?

I have a feeling that soon the “cookies” might actually be able to not just be an ID on my browser, but my ID for my digital presence. We are in a strange time, because the law hasn’t caught up to technology yet, where it is hard to find ethical common ground. It’s not a question anymore of what kind of data we should collect, because we have the capabilities to collect them all. We have to ask ourselves where the ethical moral lies in using the data?

Why and How – My Champlain College Experience

On February 17th, 2015, Champlain College hosted an Open House for perspective students. I was fortunate to speak infront of the students and families in the Welcoming Session. I was asked  to share why I chose Champlain College and my experience so far. Now I want to share that with you as well.

10984551_10153142679758824_6117684202115059720_oBefore we get into that however, I should probably give you a little bit of a background about myself. Like I said, I was born and raised in Germany and moved to Colorado when I was 15. By the time I was a junior in High School most of my friends had very detailed plans of where they will study and what they will study, while I was more along the lines of asking myself: what if the hokypoky is what it’s all about? My answer was to take a gap year in New Zealand where I worked at the Department of Conservation and had a chance to narrow down what I wanted to do with the coming years.

For me, it was a matter of finding the right kind of higher education. While I initially wanted to go to a large state university, my mother asked me to a least consider a smaller college. And so, at a college fair at my high school in Colorado I met Nicole Lentine at the Champlain College booth. She explained to me the upside-down curriculum, the International Business program and the study abroad opportunities – I was intrigued. By the time I visited the campus during the accepted student day and had the chance to talk to the business professors and students who have studies abroad – I was sold.

Now as a senior, I can say that my college experience has been very unique. In my first year here I was able to score a great work study position at Admissions as a Student Ambassador. The position showed me how being energetic and enthusiastic, combined with the willingness to learn something new can be very successful: by fall semester my second year I was tour trainer, by spring semester Lead Student Ambassador. That same year I also was selected to be a peer advisor, where I helped incoming students acclimate to college life and the Burlington community. I was also part of the Financial Sophistication Track of LEAD, where I facilitated workshops of understanding credit and the Career Track, where I helped with workshops on how to write a resume and ace a job interview. Overall, I can’t even begin to describe how my co-workers and Champlain as a community helped me create a home away from home.

Like I said, one of my main reasons I came to Champlain was the study abroad opportunities and to travel. I had this idea to visit one new country every year, so that I will have seen as many countries as my age. My first semester here at Champlain College I was 19 and had traveled to 19 countries. Now I’m 23 and I have visited 29 countries.

How did I do that? I took every opportunity I could. I participated in a summer internship with the Stiller School of Business, sponsored by the Freeman Foundation to live in Shanghai, China. For three months I got to work at an international school as the admissions intern and explore north-eastern China. After a week traveling around Japan, I went directly to Barcelona, Spain for the Fall Semester to attend a third party study abroad program. Every other weekend that semester, I was traveling around Europe. I continued my abroad experience by spending the Spring Semester in Dublin, Ireland at Champlain’s Campus. There I also interned at the World Trade Centre Dublin for three months. After my semester in Dublin, I had the opportunity to attend the Thunderbird School of Global Management, an international graduate school in Arizona, to start collecting graduate level credits and earn the Certificate of Advanced Global Studies. I returned this January after 20 months abroad to finish my last semester here in Burlington, Vermont.

I’m facing graduation now and even though I still sometimes think about the hokypoky, I have decide to return to Europe for graduate school and earn a Master Degree in Global Management.

I can honestly say that I could not have had such an experience without the supportive community here. And I hope that whoever is interested in Champlain will take the time to explore the vast opportunities available to you at Champlain College.

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