Going the extra mile to expand family business
What are some of your high school activities/experiences that helped prepare you for college?
During my high school years, I participated in debating and Model United Nations (MUN) conferences. I enjoyed learning about global issues and speaking about them in public. In my senior year, I took part in the Harvard MUN. These involvements helped develop my critical thinking skills and encouraged me to engage in more proactive roles while coming to college.
What drew you to Beloit College?
Initially, I applied to big-name universities such as UCLA. My family did not want me to go abroad when I got in, so I stayed and enrolled at a local university in Pakistan. However, my family changed their minds and allowed me to get my college degree abroad. Unfortunately, by that time, the UCLA enrollment date had passed. As I always wanted to study outside of my country, I looked up colleges with rolling deadlines and found Beloit. I liked the college and decided to apply. Looking back, it was a choice I would make a hundred times over.
What advice would you give to admitted students who are considering attending Beloit College?
Choosing a school should never be about running after the big names, or it will be the biggest mistake you could make. Instead of focusing solely on reputation, go after a program of your interest. Academics are pretty much the same in every college throughout the country. Principles of economics, calculus, or any other courses will barely be different across any institution; however, the people you meet, the classroom experience, and the relationships you build are what matter the most. At Beloit, you will find people and resources that help customize the college experience to match your needs. You will have the environment to do and excel in multiple things: sports, academics, social and professional activities, and you have access to great, close-knit, and successful alumni.
How do you feel about your first year in college?
As mentioned earlier, I was not that into liberal arts education or small colleges. I was mainly influenced by the pressure of my country, Pakistan. There is always a thing about getting into big-name, Ivy League, and Top universities. So Initially, I really thought I would transfer out of Beloit in my freshman year. However, it turned out the opposite. I loved my freshman year experience. Compared to my friends’ experiences at other universities, I got closer relationships with professors and more opportunities to explore and discover different aspects that I had never thought about. I found my mentorship, especially from Professor Emeritus Ranjan Roy and Professor Bob Elder. At that point, I knew I did not want to transfer any more. I remember that I enrolled in Game Theory with Professor Elder in my freshman year and immediately found my interest in Economics. I also ventured into extra-curricular activities such as the Funding Board of Beloit Student Government (BSG), where I got to work with finances first-hand.
I remember that you double majored in Business Economics and Mathematics. Could you share with us what inspired you to pursue a Math degree along with Economics?
Although I enjoyed economics, I wanted something more rigorous. Along with Business Economics, I declared a major in Mathematics, hoping to improve my quantitative skills. I did not come to college for a math major, and I did not think I was competent enough to do one. However, the experience in Calculus II class with Professor Ranjan made me change my mind. He turned
What student experiences at Beloit College have made a significant impact on your personal and professional aspects?
During my sophomore year, I became a Resident Assistant on campus. It is a valuable experience because you get to work with and for your friends and learn some important skills such as conflict mediation. I also got elected as President of the International Club. The club helped me navigate and have a sense of belonging in my freshman year, so I wanted other students, especially international students, to have the kind of supportive resources as I used to have. I organized many campus and community events such as Beats of the World at C-Haus and Tastes of the World (global cuisine cooking event). I learned so much about marketing, leadership, management, and organization. So far, the International Club experience has been the most practical and enjoyable experience of my time at Beloit. Professionally, I pursued my passion for real estate and did a summer internship with SupplyCore. I learned about valuing properties and worked on a potential acquisition in the food industry. To date, I am very close to people at SupplyCore. Not only just about learning to be more independent (managing my own finances), the sophomore year marked the time that I came out of my shells, professionally, socially, and personally.
Among the leadership positions you have taken while at Beloit, which experience do you remember the most?
Being the President of Beloit Student Government (BSG) is the one. After the very first class at Beloit as a freshman, I always attend the convocation ceremony addressed by the President of the student body. When I first heard the address in my freshman year, I had pictured myself on that stage as student body president. So in my junior year, I decided to run for that position and got elected. Through BSG, I made changes to student body policies and learned how school administration functions, but more importantly, I got a chance to work with the college executives and the trustees. These all were very successful people, some of whom are my mentors today.
Do you think that your education at Beloit has supported you in carving out your career path?
Definitely! The courses offered by both Math and Econ departments helped me develop my professional skills and experiences for my Master’s degree. Some of the other classes also contributed to my growth personally and professionally. The course that I think is crucial for any Economics major is the Quantitative Methods course. I took it with Professor Jermaine Moulton in my junior year. The quantitative and writing skills I gathered in this course have been paramount in my Master’s program. Beloit College, especially the Economics Department, also supported me to secure another internship in the summer after my junior year by granting me the Beloit Economics Endowed Internship Award. With the grant, I was able to complete the internship. I worked as a Financial Associate at Northwestern Mutual (NWM). As an international student in the US, I did not have many connections to introduce and sell insurance products, but I trained myself in communication, sales marketing, and self-confidence. These are some of the essential skills required in the workforce. NWM had a great sales school which really polished my networking skills as relationship-building was centric to this internship. I met some great people who still coach me in my professional life. It was a great networking and personal development opportunity for me as I want to join my family business in Pakistan in the near future.
Did you encounter any obstacles or challenges while at Beloit? If yes, who helped you overcome it?
Yes, I did. I remember that I was struggling in some Mathematics courses, notably the Real Analysis course. However, Professor Emeritus Ranjan Roy (in the Real Analysis course) motivated and encouraged me to continue trying my best for this course. In general, I think the professors at Beloit College are really supportive. They will consistently help you if you are struggling, both inside the classroom and during office hours. Rigorous and challenging, yet the material from these courses is immensely helpful in my Master’s or any higher education program. I think it helped prepare me to handle the rigorous curriculum of graduate school.
I remember I attended your Exploring Beloit events, and I was really impressed by your effort to bring the Beloit community closer to Beloit students. Could you share with us what motivated you to organize that event? Any story behind it?
After working at Kerry Ingredients through the Duffy Partnerships program, I figured out that there were plenty of huge and successful businesses in the Beloit community that I had not known about it before. So I wanted to share that with other fellow students too. So, I hosted Exploring Beloit with the entrepreneurship center to help current Beloit students connect with the available recourses and portray the potential of Beloit’s business community. The panel discussion and networking events featured CEOs of three of Beloit’s largest companies. It was an opportunity for students to think more about professional and career development and what makes a successful business.
What tips would you give to current students? How should they use their time at Beloit College to make the most of their college experience?
For current students, I think you should have a primary goal to focus on. Then it is a good idea to make short-term goals that tie into your primary goal. For me, the main goal was furthering my family business, but I had to build my skills - professional development, communication, etc. - and gain real-world business experience first. Thus, my activities in college focused on business and communication.
What paths did you take from graduation to your current career?
After graduation, I decided to get a Master’s degree combining business and agriculture, which would be ideal for furthering my family business. The perfect match was an Agribusiness degree, such as an MBA for food and processing industries. I attended my Master’s in Agribusiness at Texas A&M University, which is ranked 1st in the nation for the program, and I have recently completed the program.
What is the most significant change you have experienced when transitioning from college to graduate school?
Graduate school was a big adjustment in terms of anything for me; you get limited social time, but eventually, you get used to it.