Traci first saw Ithaca College on a beautiful summer day when she arrived for orientation. “I remember cresting the hill and coming down 96B,” said Traci of the road that led her to the campus entrance. “I saw the lake, and I thought, Wow, this place is beautiful. I think this is going to be an adventure. It’s just so breathtakingly amazing.”
On a mission to learn and grow, Traci began her academic path as a wide-eyed accounting major who loved numbers. But after a class in Intermediate Accounting, she wasn’t sure she wanted that path as much as she had initially thought. David Long, dean of the business school at the time, urged Traci to keep taking classes in the business school. Then, she took Labor Relations, which shifted her path entirely.
“It’s Professor Markowitz’s fault I’m in HR!” laughed Traci. Professor Jim Markowitz, who taught Labor Relations, was “hardcore in a funny way, passionate and persistent,” according to Traci, and required students to work in teams to negotiate successful outcomes. If all parties weren’t mutually satisfied with the final outcome, all of the students risked a failing grade. “At first, I thought, Wait...what? Can he really do that?” said Traci. “But there is a lot to be said for truly hearing what the other person needs. Even if you can’t give them 100% of what they are asking for, that someone in any negotiation can find a win for themselves is critical.” The class was an eye-opener for Traci.
Throughout her four years as an undergraduate on campus, Traci found herself gravitating to her two favorite spots—the library, which she says spoke to her in a “nerdy way,” and what was then called the Afro-Latin Society Room (now the African-Latino Society Room) located in the West Tower.
“[The ALS Room] was a well-known home away from home for students of color,” said Traci, who, inspired by the leadership of Nelson Mandela, was a spokesperson for the Afro-Latin Society for two years and helped organize protests against apartheid while at IC. “It was a space that I felt very known and appreciated in—and where I didn’t feel like a student of color in a predominantly white institution. It was a really special place for me and many others.”