Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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NASCAR events are a thrilling part of the American experience. But while fans root for their favorite drivers, not many consider the work that takes place long before the first engine revs. That’s where Jusan Hamilton ’13 is in the driver’s seat.
As an account executive for industry operations at NASCAR, Jusan is part of a team responsible for keeping races on track—managing communications, working with sponsors, and traveling to events around the country. But long before his first trip to Daytona, Jusan was racing around a dirt track in upstate New York.
Jusan’s talent led him to compete in go-kart and stock car races up and down the East Coast throughout his high school years. As graduation approached, Jusan set his sights on professional racing—but he was thinking outside the lanes.
“After I realized I wouldn’t be able to race in the top series in NASCAR, I decided that I wanted to work on the business side of the sport,” says Jusan.
His search for a college that would help him reach his goals led to Ithaca, where he worked toward dual degrees in sociology and integrated marketing communications (IMC).
“My two degrees showed me completely different aspects of the business world and of life in general. They really prepared me to make my own path in my career,” Jusan says.
“Sociology allows you to better interpret what you’re putting out there—how it’s going to affect different groups of people, and how they’re going to see it. From a public relations standpoint, sociology is really useful.
“Marketing and advertising are a big part of what makes the sport go ’round. There are communications aspects with the sponsors, the race teams, the track teams, and the corporate side. The IMC major encompassed everything I hoped to do.”
Jusan’s drive to work in professional racing—along with an education that combined skills and knowledge specific to his career goals—led to three internships in the industry followed by a full-time position in communications at NASCAR soon after graduation. Already rising through the ranks, Jusan is on the inside track toward his career goals.
“I love working for NASCAR; I love working in the industry. My goal is to continue to work my way up.”
What would compel a 40-something owner of an already successful small business to return to school for an M.B.A. at Ithaca College?
Heather Lane, owner of Purity Ice Cream—a well-known and loved institution in Ithaca and the central New York area—had her reasons: “I had plateaued at Purity. I couldn’t beat my best day’s sales,” she says.
Heather always urged IC students on her staff to finish their degrees but was embarrassed she never finished her own. After taking the final classes needed to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology with the University at Buffalo, she was inspired to scoop up an M.B.A. at Ithaca to boost her business.
“I didn’t understand how transferable the theoretical knowledge was until I entered the program, and then it just became this great game: what can I change next at Purity?”
Heather made operational adjustments, which included changing the way customers move through her store and the location of the cash registers. She also modified the prices of certain products.
Then she tackled the human resources side of the business and created a series of videos so that staffers could understand the nuances of making a great sundae or a smooth milkshake, and even how to mop the floor correctly.
Changes like these and others are what helped Heather eventually beat her best day's sales by 40 percent. She credits that growth to her education at IC.
“The M.B.A. program really pushed me to analyze my operation, make sense of it, and do it better,” Heather says.
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