Actually, Maritina, I’m hard-pressed to think of any field of study, career path or creative pursuit that is not greatly enhanced by the research university environment! The exposure to world-class research facilities, the direct engagement with groundbreaking faculty, the opportunity to be part of an academic community with a global impact—those are life-changing experiences for every student. They will change the way you see the world every day of your life. And that’s true whether you’re an art major, a budding architect or elementary educator, or a future businessperson.
But you’ve touched on a question that many large research universities struggle with. That is how to keep students, especially undergrads, from feeling cut off from the research-intensive environment, and how to ensure they benefit from all that it has to offer.
Of course, I may be a little biased, but I think this is something we do especially well at UB. Take the Academies, for example. Each encourages undergraduates to explore timely, interdisciplinary topics in depth—in and out of the classroom—with leading faculty experts in the field. Each gives undergraduates hands-on research experience, even if they are not in STEM fields or other areas traditionally associated with research. The Sustainability Academy, for instance, examines our impact on the environment from a variety of perspectives, both scientific and societal, and is led by a philosophy professor. Entrepreneurship Academy students take an active leadership role as innovators, gaining the expertise and creativity they’ll need to someday launch their own companies and business ventures.
As you’ve already experienced firsthand in your time at UB, our faculty are pioneers in their fields—and they bring that perspective directly into the classroom. That experience is incredibly valuable, whether you’re a future guidance counselor taught by a national expert on school bullying or a media student working with an internationally decorated film director.
Our goal is to ensure that our students graduate ready to lead and contribute. Every day I see examples of students like you bringing their classroom learning to life through research and clinical experience, internships and experiential learning. They’ve applied that knowledge to respond to urgent societal needs, from improving literacy in our city to expanding access to safe drinking water in Africa.
Maritina, you are a wonderful example of this. During our photo shoot, you mentioned the valuable internship experiences you’ve had in sustainability, marketing and managing social media. I have no doubt you will draw heavily on this experience in the years ahead. And I think you’ll find it has currency wherever you go—here in Buffalo, in the U.K., where I understand you are heading after graduation, or anywhere else on the globe.
Here’s the really good news as you think about your next steps after graduation. Again and again, employers tell me they love hiring UB grads because they know they have the knowledge, expertise and global perspective that are critical to success in the 21st century. These assets spring from the basic tools of research: curiosity, critical thinking, a passion for discovery and exploration. Wherever you go, and whatever you do, those tools will make your life better. And they’ll help you do the same for others.
A senior psychology major with a management minor from Grand Island, N.Y., Maritina Tsembelis grew up speaking Greek with her grandparents and dreamed of living abroad. After earning her degree in December, she will make good on that dream—moving to London to pursue a career in analytics, with a specific focus on financial services, consulting or commercial research.