Emelia Stephan, second from left, on a learning experience in Brazil.
During her four years at WSU, recent graduate Emelia Stephan (’18 Int. Bus.) built an impressive résumé of accomplishments.
In addition to being a member of Kal Joshi’s championship international business case competition team in 2017, she served as the vice president of alumni relations for her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and was a WSU Honors College student. She also was on the Model United Nations team and a member of Team Verde, winners of WSU’s 2015 Global Case Competition.
The team’s winning solution to dealing with plastic waste in Manaus, Brazil, proposed that WSU form partnerships with universities in Brazil and offer training and education in a new system for catadores (waste pickers) and the general population of Manaus.
Verde members received scholarship funds and the opportunity to travel to Brazil for further study. Stephan traveled with the team during her freshman year to visit public grade schools with a focus on early education.
Learning To Lead
None of this is surprising for those who know Stephan. After all, the Richland, Washington, native and daughter of WSU alumni started planning for college in the third grade. What is surprising, however, is that Stephan says it wasn’t always her nature to stand out from the crowd.
“When I first came to WSU, I was an extremely shy person,” she said. “I hated speaking in front of large groups and preferred blending into the background. I didn’t have a lot of confidence.”
Stephan credits her undergraduate experiences for helping her build confidence and strengthening her leadership skills. Her pursuit of extracurricular activities and willingness to step outside of her comfort zone also gave her a deeper understanding about the challenges that other parts of the world face.
Importance of Cultural Experience
“It’s important to go out into the world and experience a different culture(s) and experience that culture in terms of business too. I think at first it’s a little mind-blowing how things can be so different, but in the end, it is worth it because you gain a lot of skills from the experience,” she says.
As for life after WSU, Stephan plans to take a year off and work—she accepted a position with Bechtel International in her hometown—before pursuing graduate school to continue her studies in international business, waste management, and environmental policy.