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Embracing the Student Experience

Jennie May ’17

When May talks with prospective students in her role giving tours as a University 100 student ambassador, she invites them to think of their upcoming college years as playdough.

Jennie May portrait
Photo by Steve Sartori

In other words, the quality of their experience rests in their own hands and they can shape it in an endless variety of ways. “You can make what you want of it,” says May, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, who majors in public relations at the Newhouse School and marketing and supply chain management at the Whitman School . “You can do different things, whether it’s volunteering, research, internships, or going abroad. And if you plan it out right and get involved and find mentors, you can take advantage of your four years here and also leave something of yourself behind for others.”

Her own experiences at Syracuse offer a lively example. From the start, she embraced the diverse aspects of University life, including joining the Club Swim Team, helping initiate the Digital Media Team at Whitman, spending a semester in Madrid, and taking part in the 2016 Homecoming Court. Also through the Whitman School, May participates in Enactus, a global social entrepreneurship organization. “Each chapter has the purpose of doing entrepreneurship in action, so you’re looking at the community you’re in as well as abroad, and seeing how you can change it,” she says. “Of our nine projects, my favorite is Team Guatemala, where we work with women in Guatemala who make handmade products and sell them on campus and in the local community. All the revenue goes to scholarships so their daughters can go to school.”

If I can be relaxed but challenged, and be able to feel I have a purpose, and see that what I’m doing is actually changing something and affecting someone—that’s where I want to be.

May also serves on the Student Philanthropy Council , helping to build a spirit of giving among her classmates and alumni. Highlights included co-hosting the Phanstiel Lecture during Philanthropy Week last year, and speaking at the Class of 1966 50th reunion dinner at Orange Central. But of all her activities, being a University 100 student ambassador is the one she loves best. “Whether it’s 7 a.m. and you’re dressed in orange and doing bus duty, welcoming prospective students and their families to campus, or giving tours when it’s snowing out—you’re the first face and the first impression they get,” May says. “It’s where I feel like I have the most impact on people who may potentially come here. And it’s a great feeling when [months later] someone recognizes you and says that you gave them their tour and they’re now here at Syracuse.”

Academically, May is equally enthusiastic about her efforts in the classroom and beyond. She especially thrives on group work, case studies, and the hands-on experiences gained through internships at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse and at NBC Universal Affiliate Marketing in New York City.

Following graduation, she looks forward to reporting to her new job as a member of the materials management supply chain program at Pratt & Whitney aircraft manufacturing in East Hartford, Connecticut—a position she hopes will be the foundation for a professional life as rich with opportunities as her education has been. “People always ask, ‘What is your dream job?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know because I’m 21 years old.’ But I definitely know that it depends on the environment,” she says. “If I can be relaxed but challenged, and be able to feel I have a purpose, and see that what I’m doing is actually changing something and affecting someone—that’s where I want to be.”

Amy Speach

This story was published on .

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