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Student Spotlight: Kaitlyn Franza’s Love For Business Develops Skills in the Dean’s Suite

By Samantha Nieto

Kaitlyn Franza

TAMPA (May 5, 2017) -- Kaitlyn Franza, one of the faces of the Muma College of Business Dean's Suite with her engaging smile and gregarious manner, might never have come here had it not been for a chance visit to the Bulls Business Community open house during her senior year in high school.

That was a time of uncertainty and angst that most high school seniors dread: What to do next? But Franza's open-house visit sparked a fascination with the world of business and for the first time, the idea of attending the University of South Florida to study business opened up to her.

Now, Franza is set to graduate. This weekend, she will walk across the stage at the USF Sun Dome and receive her diploma from USF President Judy Genshaft, marking a pivotal time in her life in which she will ask herself – as she has done before – this question: What to do next?

Now, though, after four years of taking classes and working at the reception desk in the dean's suite, Franza has a better idea of what her future holds.

Here's how she got to this point:

During her freshman year at USF, Franza applied to (on a whim) and joined the Bulls Business Community, and the prestigious Business Honors Program, which offers opportunities for students to participate in personal, professional and academic growth, such as networking events and improvisation classes. And Franza was not shy about taking advantage of those opportunities.

Along the way, she gained recognition. While at the Bulls Business Community, she was named the Most Over-Achieving Mentor for 2014 and in the Business Honor's Program, she served as president and administrative coordinator.

Through all her student involvement and frenetic schedule, Franza has maintained a 3.43 grade-point average. She shrugged off that high level of academic excellence, saying the reason for the grades simply is her insatiable thirst for business knowledge.

Originally a marketing major, Franza realized she had a passion for both technology and people, so she switched over to what is now business analytics and information systems.

Being a big fan of project management, Franza enjoys being able to communicate with both sides of a company: the dense technical side and the regular business people side.

"I like being that middle man and helping with projects and improving processes," Franza said. "I find it really cool."

She began her university networking experience by volunteering as a marketing intern in the Muma College of Business Dean's Suite during her first semester and shortly after earned a position as a paid student staff assistant at the reception desk.

"It's been an amazing opportunity," Franza said. "I don't think a lot of people understand that you really get a sense of what the college of business offers from that front desk."

While working there, she has been invited to some of the more auspicious occasions at the college. She attended the naming dedications of the Muma College of Business, the Collier Student Success Center, the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy and the Hasbini DBA Suite.

She's witnessed parts of Muma College of Business history, all because of her job at the front desk.

As a freshman, Franza joined the Alpha Omicron Pi fraternity which focuses on supporting the Wounded Warriors Project in Tampa. There, she has worked on her leadership development skills, by taking on the roles as treasurer and marketing chairman for the program.

Kerri Allen, advisor for Alpha Omicron Pi, believes Franza is one of the most impressive young woman she's ever mentored.

"I had the privilege of witnessing her model core values of integrity, honesty, compassion, courage and respect," Allen said.

Last summer, Franza accepted an internship at Dish Network and spent ten weeks in Colorado, where she underwent a three-week program learning sales and call-center training and in-home services. Because of the extensive customer-service experience, that internship changed her view on business as a whole.

"Seeing how they train their employees to put the customer first, it was one of the most eye-opening things because I think in internships you normally get so focused on your work that you lose sight of the customers out there," she said, "and that everything you do directly affects the people who are interacting with that customer."

After graduation? Franza already has accepted a full-time job offer at defense contractor Raytheon in its Information Technology Leadership Development Program. The two-year rotational program begins in June.

And after that, Franza plans to continue her education.

"I know that after I get this diploma, I don't want it to stop," Franza said. "I want to continue advancing because technology is such an ever-changing field and I need to stay on top of everything."

Throughout the last four years at USF, Franza has strived to make her family proud and make the most of her college experience and she is confident that as a senior about to graduate, she has accomplished just that.

"As a Muma student, the one thing that I've learned is that the only thing constant is change, meaning that no matter what is holding you back, the future is always changing," she said. "No matter what obstacles are in place, remembering that change is coming should give you hope to keep going and fighting because the future is going to be worth it.

"Looking back on my freshman year, I made so many changes then that have affected me now," she said. "People are intimidated by change, but it helps me calm down and more importantly, it gives me the sense that you can be the face of that change."