Fall 2021 Alumni Leadership Series was a Success!

As we enter Spring 2022, the speaker list for the Alumni Leadership Series is starting to take shape. The IT Leadership class has always hosted 4-6 alumni each semester as part of an initiative to share industry knowledge, recruitment strategies, and information about leadership programs. Those speakers were local or passing through Tallahassee. While COVID restricted travel to Tallahassee, Zoom options allowed the series to expand internationally with its reach (last Fall we hosted an alum from England). The Series is now in its 4th iteration and has provided numerous benefits for current students.

Ebe Randeree, Associate Dean in the College, is always impressed by the alumni. He said that “our alumni are so giving of their time and their mentorship – they are always ready to help a fellow Nole and have been key contacts for current students to secure employment. These alumni were sitting in this Leadership class a few years ago and relate well with our students’ challenges and questions.”

The students in the class also spoke about the benefits:

“As a non-traditional student, it was beneficial to me to listen to all the guest speakers that were invited to my leadership course,” said graduating senior Michael McDonald. “Sometimes it can be overwhelming being in a classroom full of students that are half your age and have been exposed to different levels of technology most of their academic lives, but hearing the stories and paths traveled by previous students and current professionals helps to ease the anxiety. Hearing how many of the guest speakers pivoted from other careers into technology with little to no experience gave me the confidence needed to push forward in this field. I truly appreciate each one of them for their time and wisdom.”   “I would say that the best thing about having speakers come to class and talk is the connections you get from them and how they will help you with your career either presently or in the future if you connect with them after they speak,” said graduating senior Rachel Hester. “These speakers are such an important thing to have in class because there’s no other classes that help you establish yourself and build industry links and this one actively does that throughout the semester.” Westen Zawacki-Dorweiler graduated a month ago from FSU and is now working for A-lign. When asked about his takeaways, he said, “Professor Randeree brings a variety of guest speakers into his IT leadership class, who show us the ample opportunities and occupations where they have used their IT and ICT degrees. Additionally, it allows us students to form industry connections and network with those who were in our shoes not long ago. I can personally attest to this – having pursued a career and company that was introduced to me through a guest speaker in this class. The value of allowing students to engage in career defining conversations with potential mentors cannot be undermined!” “The guest speakers in class were great,” said Adam MacDougall. “It was mainly FSU students 5 years after graduating recounting what their college experience was like and the steps that they took to be in their careers. They all worked in a variety of different fields and have found success and passion in what they are doing. We learned what they did and what they wish did and didn’t do throughout the entire hiring process and when starting a full time job for the first time, such as questions to ask and things to be aware before accepting a job and red flags to watch out for. I learned a lot about what pitfalls to avoid and things to do now to be better prepared for the future. It inspired me to reach out to an alum I knew and after hearing his story after graduation I have found guidance for career opportunities that I want to pursue.”


Alumni have been eager to participate; the following joined the class this Fall:

Name Major Location Employer
Chris Cyrille IT 2018 Tampa, FL Power Design
Krista Savoilidis MCS 2020 Miami, FL Amazon
Stephanie DeDecker IE 2012 New York, NY Accenture
Natalie Marcelo IT 2019 Melbourne, FL Lockheed Martin
Jonathon Zayas IT 2019 Boulder, CO Lockheed Martin
Michael Helfrich IT 2014 New York, NY Google
Shannon McWaters IT 2021 Tallahassee, FL Brandt Info Services
Greg Dugger IT 2007 Tallahassee, FL Brandt Info Services
Thomas Turner IT 2011 Chicago, IL RSM
Chelsea Schneider ICT 2017 San Francisco, CA Electronic Arts
Zachary Patterson IT 2017 Tampa, FL Citibank
Raquel Werner IE 2019 Houston, TX Accenture
Jordan Webb IT 2016 Atlanta, GA Cox Communications
Troy Capasso ICT 2016 Cambridge, England US AF
Schuyler Hample ICT 2020 Miami, FL Levi & Associates