Olivia Aschenbrenner, a marketing major from Cedarburg, WI, was named the December 2014 Outstanding Marketing Student by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire marketing faculty. She was recognized for her scholarship, leadership, and community service at the December 10 dinner for graduating marketing students hosted by the faculty.
Meet Olivia Aschenbrenner
As part of the nomination process, Olivia Aschenbrenner was asked by the faculty to submit an essay on how her experiences at UW-Eau Claire contributed to her leadership abilities. Gretchen Hutterli, College of Business assistant dean, interviewed Aschenbrenner about her essay which focused on the value of failure and perseverance.
GH: I have read many student essays for this recognition and yours really stood out. You wrote, "The greatest aspect of leadership I've learned through my experiences at UW-Eau Claire is that failure isn't final: it's what you do with that failure that determines success." As a five time All-American gymnast, an honors student, and a student leader, you've obviously been very successful at UW-Eau Claire. Why write about your failures instead of your successes?
OA: I think success is a wonderful thing, and it should be praised. However, I think failure is almost more important. It's easy to get discouraged if you don't succeed at first, but difficult to get back up and try again. I think perseverance leads to success, so it's absolutely necessary to recognize that for every success story you hear, there are many more unrecognized failures.
GH: A good example of persistence leading to success is when you applied to become a university ambassador. The first two times you applied you weren't selected but the third time was the charm. Most people would have given up. What was it about the job that made you persist?
OA: I loved the idea of being part of a group of students who are so wholeheartedly dedicated to this university. That organization still blows me away with their drive and effort and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. I persisted because I knew it was something I wanted to do, and the thought of giving up seemed to contradict everything that group stands for. Those students represent leadership, passion, and enthusiasm, and so with those three ideals in mind, I strove to improve myself.
GH: Your dislike of public speaking is another good example of how you deliberately sought experiences that would make you stronger. What did you do to face or overcome this fear?
OA: I took a position in AIESEC as vice president of talent management. Part of this position required me to stand in front of the organization and run the weekly meetings. It was intimidating at first, and I would be lying if I said I didn't get nervous before each meeting. Each week though, the nerves became less and I started to enjoy it. I also took a business communications class (BCOM 405) which required teams of students to teach the class for two days on a chosen topic. Standing in front of a group of my peers and educating them on a topic did not sound appealing at first, but after the first 10 minutes or so it was actually enjoyable.
GH: Kudos to you for not taking the easy route. Many people wouldn't have done what you did because they were afraid to fail. Has your experience as an athlete has given you a different perspective about failure?
OA: In any sport, it's unrealistic to expect to win every game, or meet, or competition. Even practices don't go well 100% of the time. Being exposed to that lesson at an early age helps develop a strong work ethic. I'm sure all athletes can relate to that.
GH: Is it fair to say that your failures have made you a stronger person?
OA: Not to sound cliché, but what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger. In almost every experience there is a lesson to be learned. Keeping a positive outlook on life makes it possible to see those silver linings and makes success come more easily in the future.
GH: It seems to me that you have developed many important characteristics needed for successful leadership while at UW-Eau Claire. Now that you are graduating, what are your future plans?
OA: I'm still trying to pin down a definite plan post-graduation. I've been talking with a few different sales-oriented businesses and I'm excited to see how those pan out. I definitely want to work in an engaging environment where I am able to interact with a variety of people, and I think sales fits those criteria very well.
GH: We all look forward to hearing where you land. Best wishes always and please stay in touch.
Other students nominated by the marketing faculty for the award and recognized at the event were as follows:
- Erik K. Olson, a marketing and Spanish, professional business/professions major from Bloomington, MN.
- Eric Sipe, a marketing major from Eagan, MN.
- Sarah Wittmann, a marketing and Spanish, professional business/professions major from Combined Locks, WI.
- Brooke Yoder, a marketing analytics major from Sun Prairie, WI.
For more information about the marketing awards, contact Dr. Scott Swanson, UW-Eau Claire Department of Management and Marketing.