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Making opportunities count: Marissa Leners, 2017 COB Outstanding Student

Marissa Leners, an information systems major from Birchwood, WI, was selected by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire College of Business faculty and staff as the 2017 College of Business Outstanding Student. Leners will be recognized at the 2017 College of Business Celebrate Success! reception on Wednesday, May 10 at 5 pm in the Davies Center Dakota Ballroom. 

The College of Business student receiving this award demonstrates great promise and outstanding achievement in his/her chosen field. Personality and involvement in university activities are also important attributes.

Leners will graduate magna cum laude at the 2 pm commencement ceremony on May 20, 2017.  She has accepted a position as an application analyst with General Mills in Golden Valley, MN.

For more information, contact Gretchen Hutterli, assistant dean, UW-Eau Claire College of Business.

Marissa Leners, In her own words

"I was looking for a university where I could see myself getting involved. I wanted a place where I could imagine myself in the dorms between classes, at the library, gyms, etc. I fell in love with UW-Eau Claire because of the proximity to the Chippewa River, and I knew that I would be able to find my place on a campus this size. 

I began my college career as a management major. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew it would be something in business. That’s why I joined DECA, because I could experience what a finance, marketing, or management professional would experience daily and I could figure out which area I want to specialize in. I ended up choosing information systems because I get to work with all those disciplines!

I found DECA the second day of my freshman year at the Blugold Organization Bash. I got involved right away. My sophomore year I was the vice president of membership and recruitment, and was responsible for communication between the executive board and general members, as well as with prospective members. This position started me on my leadership journey. My senior year I became president. The  skills I learned earlier really helped me to effectively communication with my executive board and members, and coordinate the efforts of our team. 

An important part of DECA are the competitions. You get to pick an industry you’ve interested in, receive a real-life situation, and present to professionals from that industry. Competitions are also a crash course in effective communication because you only have 30 minutes to prepare your presentation before giving it to industry executives -- my freshman year I presented to the CEO of Marriott! You learn how to coordinate your information just enough so it’s organized. Then it’s a lot of thinking on your feet to get through the presentation.

During my four years in DECA, I’ve received 22 medals and two plaques for the competitions I participated in. One medal that is especially meaningful to to me is the one I won this year at the International Career Development Conference. While I have been in the Top 7 in the exam portion in the past, I have never made it to the final round until this year. Being on stage and finally receiving the finalist medal in addition to the exam medal was a fantastic way to end my DECA career.  When I think back on my experience with DECA, I will always remember how supportive everyone was. The conferences are extremely competitive, and not everyone always makes it as far as they would like. But every single member always shows up to support the rest of the team.  

While DECA was an important part of my time at UW-Eau Claire, there are other experiences that shaped my college career. Freshman year I became a building manager for Davies Student Center. I now appreciate all the effort that goes into making a large event occur flawlessly.  I was an Admissions Campus Ambassador, an experience that greatly increased my ability to speak in front of groups of strangers and convey important information to potential students both in person and through phone/email. Junior year I studied at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, an amazing opportunity that helped me become more independent and confident in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. My summer internships at Cargill and General Mills allowed me to grew professionally in ways that cannot be replicated in a classroom. I also came away from my internship with a full-time job offer from General Mills.

It is surreal that my time at UW-Eau Claire is already coming to an end. I don’t believe I will feel done until next September rolls around and I won’t be packing my stuff to come back to campus. Four years flies by incredibly quickly, and I encourage students to get involved right away. Once you get involved, a lot of things will just seem to fall into place. My success comes from piecing together experiences across a variety of opportunities around campus."