The Power of Connection

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Maddie Dwyer understands the power of getting involved. A senior double major in business management and marketing, Dwyer has fully explored a variety of avenues at the university – both inside and outside the classroom. She’s thrived as a student, and has used her coursework to chart a course as an entrepreneur. In her work as an Orientation leader, she has helped legions of new students navigate the university experience. In a very real sense, though, Dwyer is simply paying things forward: she was drawn to the university by the strong community and by a presentation given at the W.A. Franke College of Business. 

“It just felt right,” Dwyer says. “Seeing and hearing all these amazing things about NAU are what sold it for me.”

Embracing the business side 

Dwyer, who hopes to one day lead her own marketing team, was compelled by The W.A. Franke College of Business’ presentation while on a tour of the university. During the presentation, she heard about an opportunity for undergraduate students to attend an annual Q&A session and lunch with Warren Buffett, the famed chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway and third wealthiest person in the world in 2011. From that moment on, Dwyer knew she wanted to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and learn from one of the best investors in modern history.

Before that, however, Dwyer enrolled in a BizBlock course, which combines essential components of management, marketing, and business communication into one course where students are grouped together to develop a business plan for actual investors. Dwyer and her group, spearheaded by recent graduate David Lorenz, came up with the idea for a concessions service that allows students attending university athletics events to text in orders without leaving the comfort of their seats or missing key plays.

The idea was an immediate hit; the group finished second at a venture capital presentation held by the college and sixth at a national competition in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Dwyer says the experience presenting her group’s business plan, which included a meeting with the National Board of Directors for the College of Business, provided her with a chance to apply classroom lessons in a real world setting.

“It showed me what I’m learning in class really does apply to real life,” Dwyer says. “Not many people get to say they’ve experienced what I have, and it makes me stand out.  They’ve all been experiences you can’t buy.”

Due to their recent success, Dwyer’s group was offered a grant from the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology to start their own business.

Learning outside the classroom

When Dwyer isn’t busy with classes or related coursework, she can be found hard at work elsewhere around campus. Before the start of her freshman year, she was offered a position in Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation answering phones after an employee in the department saw her socializing at a gathering for incoming freshman.

Dwyer became an orientation leader at the start of her sophomore year. She says working with students and getting them excited to attend the university has been one of her favorite parts of the job, because it allows her to share her own excitement.

“It has been an incredible experience and something that has just molded me and helped me learn who I am,” Dwyer says. “It’s made me so much more of a leader than I ever would have thought, and it’s all about the students, which is awesome.” 

If Dwyer has to credit one extracurricular activity with defining her role as a student, it would be her current role as president of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. As both her parents participated in Greek Life, Dwyer knew she would get involved with a sorority, but was surprised and honored to find herself with so much responsibility. Still, she says the opportunity to socialize with her peers and lead a group of young women has provided her a chance to grow on a personal level. 

“It’s been a huge honor to be chosen,” Dwyer says. “I think it’s nice to know that the girls in my chapter saw good qualities in me and felt comfortable putting me in that role. It’s been a great learning experience.”

Opportunities for the future 

In the end, Dwyer says managing time between all her endeavors has allowed her to grow as a person, and that it wouldn’t be possible without the support of her close mentors. She cites Mary Bowers, a senior lecturer in the College of Business, as her favorite professor due to her passion and desire for her subject.

Dwyer says having this steady support system in place has allowed her to not only hone her craft in the classroom, but also make great progress toward her long-term goals.

“The opportunities for growth here go back to that one-on-one relationship you develop with your professors and not just being a number in their eyes,” Dwyer says. “You’re a person and a student, and they’re working to make your experience better every day.”