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Top 40 Business Students 2017

Community Leaders:

It is with great pride I introduce to you the 2017 TOP 40 business students of the JU Davis College of Business.

With the program in its 5th year thanks to our generous sponsors Brown and Brown Insurance and Predictive Results, Advantage Business Magazine gave well deserved recognition to some of the finest students in the state.

When I started as the Dean of the College more than five years ago, JU was already a fine institution. Thanks to the business community and support from alumni, we have been able to increase the admissions standards for students and increase enrollment at the same time. Now, we have more than 300 graduate students, 45 of which come from overseas. Much of this international growth has come into new programs launched to serve the future needs of Florida businesses and our community. The business analytics program is just one example of connections we are making. We are training our students to be world leaders in this emerging field and work with important international communities in China, India, Latin America and Europe.

Launched in 2015, our doctoral program has grown to be one of the most successful in the United States.  What started as a dream to help doctoral candidates who wanted to teach part time or be a resource to quality business schools internationally, has become a signature program with 57 students.

On the master’s level, we have codified our focus on a practitioner-oriented education. We brought on respected faculty such as Abdul Missa and Jack Parker from prominent industry positions because of their ability to train and mentor professionals in real-world skills in finance and consumer products. Our plan is to continue to attract more practitioners and PhD credentialed faculty that are top-flight in their field and concentrate on applying theory to practice.

You may have heard the Davis College of Business stepped up in a big way by announcing our new downtown campus. This bold move is because we are bullish on the growth of downtown Jacksonville and wish to participate in continual growth by making graduate programs as accessible and accommodating as possible, all with the same rigor you have come to expect from an AACSB accredited institution.

So with this, please join me in welcoming our latest TOP 40 cohort. I think you will be impressed with their accomplishments and more importantly intrigued about their potential.

Dr. Don Capener

Dean, Davis College of Business


TOP 40 2017


Zachary Alligood

Major: Economics and Accounting

  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Sigma Alpha pi
  • Sigma Chi Fraternity

As a member of JU’s golf team, Alligood balances athletics and school. A double major in Economics and Accounting, he is trying to get his 150 credits for the CPA exam. He is extremely motivated and does not give up on tasks. He always pushes himself to be his best.


Ayed Althobaiti

Major: MBA, Accounting & Finance

  • Beta Gamma Sigma

Althobaiti has succeeded in the classroom and the office. In addition to earning a 3.95 GPA, he was promoted to assistant manager of a bank within a year. He looks forward to acquiring the needed competency, skills and credentials to advance in his career, and on the long term, establish a financial consulting firm. He always works hard to make his country, family and friends proud.


Johanne Bovee

Major: MBA

  • ACPS Foster parent

A Navy spouse and a mother, Bovee earned has earned her undergraduate degree and will be graduating with her MBA in December. She also recently started working at Deutsche Bank as a Loan Operations Analyst. She is proud of the accomplishments she has made thus far and looks forward to the future with optimism.



John “JC” Bruce

Major: MBA

  • FL Professional Engineer
  • FL Professional Realtor
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • Jacksonville Real Estate Investors
  • BS/MS Electrical Engineering

JC started pursuing his MBA at JU in 2007, taking one night class at a time as he could. As a family man and a leader of a large R&D group for medical giant Medtronic, time was scarce. But he persevered in his quest for his MBA because as a leader his job had moved from engineering only to being a true business leader. He also had a keen interest in the material being taught and its applicability to the real world.  JC has a passion to help others in the MBA program;  as a partner in projects or to help stimulate classroom conversations with professors and colleagues. His final GPA and willingness to spend his time, and finances, on his MBA demonstrate his commitment to the program and its stated goals.


Justin T Chittum

Major: Finance/Accounting

  • Accounting Club
  • Dolphin Student Investment Club

As a Clearwater, Florida native, Chittum grew up surrounded by the ocean and enjoy fishing and boating. Before attending Jacksonville University, he studied mathematics at St. Petersburg College (SPC) in Tarpon Springs, Florida. During his studies, he worked full-time for Davris Surveying, a well-known land surveying company. His duties included detailed record keeping, distance calculations, and daily reports to supervisors. He was also responsible for operating robotic, GPS, and Topcon equipment.

After receiving his Associate of Arts degree at SPC, he decided to pursue a dual major in Finance and Accounting at Jacksonville University. While maintaining a 3.6 GPA, he also work as tutor in the library center where he helps students in courses such as calculus and upper level finance and accounting courses. In Spring 2017, Chittum was elected as the Vice President of the Accounting Club, where the main focus is to connect students to business leaders of major tax and accounting firms. His duties include outreach to new accounting/financial firms, recruiting new student members, and managing club funds. He will be graduating in the Spring 2018, and plans to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Upon graduation, Chittum will have completed the required 36 upper level accounting courses to become a CPA during his undergraduate years. Chittum especially enjoys helping people with taxes as well as giving advice on investments. His dedication towards becoming a CPA was recognized by Becker Professional Education, as he was selected to be their Campus Ambassador at JU. He was also awarded with a Becker Scholarship which honors prospective CPAs that demonstrate high moral character and strong leadership qualities. Chittum would also eventually like to become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) as he is very interested in the continuously changing stock market.


Kyle Q. Cremeans

Major: Accounting

  • Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
  • Student Veterans Association

Throughout his experience as an artilleryman, student and staff accountant, Cremeans has had the opportunity to become a proven leader who can perform at a high level within diverse environments. During his time in South Korea with the United States Army, he worked and attended college classes alongside Korean soldiers.The experience required an understanding of how different cultures operate within the academic and work environments. During his time at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, he volunteered throughout the community focusing on homeless veterans and young adults. In addition to earning him a volunteer service medal, his community work ingrained an understanding of the financial impacts that the economy and personal decisions can have on the lives of an entire community. Following his service in the United States Army, he obtained a position as an Account Clerk at First Coast Accounting in St. Augustine, working 30 to 35 hours a week while attending college full-time. He began by working with mid-sized law firms and small businesses completing tasks such as data entry, billing, accounts payable and receivable. Within the first year, he was promoted to Staff Accountant, which has allowed him to become extensively involved with companies. Academically, he has maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 at Jacksonville University, making the President’s List each semester.


Alexander DeLong

Major: Accounting

  • JU Tim and Stephanie Cost Scholar
  • JU Honors Program
  • Former NCAA DI Athlete (Rowing)
  • Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity
  • JU Inter-fraternity Council
  • Order of Omega, Beta Zeta Chapter
  • Jacksonville University Academic Support Center
  • Jacksonville University Student Government Association
  • Jacksonville University Presidential Leadership Advisory Council

After spending two years as a computer science major at Jacksonville University, DeLong changed his major to Accounting as a 19-year-old junior. Two years later, he is confident that it was one of the finest decisions he has ever made. He credits the Davis College of Business for adding value to his college experience in ways no other educational institution could. Since changing his major, he has made substantial improvements to his cumulative GPA, has worked full-time as a customer support representative for Repairify Inc., and has become an acclaimed business tutor with the JU Academic Support Center. This semester, he has become an inaugural DCOB Student Ambassador and a DCOB Senator with the JU Student Government Association.


Nicholas Ford Duch

Major: Finance and Economics

  • Beta Gamma Sigma, Business Honor Society
  • National Honor Society for Leadership and Success
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • Student-Athlete, Football
  • Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Member
  • Dolphin Student Investment Fund Member
  • Football Leadership Council Member
  • Intern, Black Knight Inc.

Duch represents a collection of Jacksonville University’s finest opportunities. As a scholar-athlete, he has demonstrated the ability to successfully balance the rigorous demands of curriculum and football, as well as a job at Black Knight Inc. He is grateful to have excelled at all three with the support of dedicated professors, coaches, teammates, supervisors, family and friends. After a successful internship with Black Knight Inc. over the summer, he was invited to stay on this academic year. He values the opportunity to apply what he’s learned in the classroom to fortify his professional skill set. Over the course of his years at JU, he has maintained his core values of being honest, loyal and dependable. As a result, he has been nominated or appointed to represent his peers on various committees, councils and teams. Collectively, his experiences at JU have empowered him to be a better student, athlete, leader, professional and citizen. Future plans include pursuit of an MBA, advancing a career within the finance industry, and an active role as a proud JU alumnus.


Shelby Durden

Major: Marketing & Management double major

  • Delta Delta Delta
  • Student Alumni Association
  • Order of Omega
  • University Advancement & Alumni Relations Student Worker

Durden has grown as an individual and as a young professional while at JU. She will graduate a semester early this December with a double major in Marketing and Management. She has had five internship positions over the past three and a half years. The companies that she has interned for include: Ackerman Cancer Center, Firehouse Subs Inc., The City of Jacksonville, HandsOn Jacksonville, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Each internship has helped prepare her for the business world after college. On top her internships and 18 credit hours for many of her semesters, she has held multiple student jobs and has been a member of different organizations. Even with these commitments, she has remained dedicated to her academics and has kept a high GPA. She has utilized the resources that the Davis College of Business has equipped her with and has grown from all of her experiences along the way.


Jason Eliopulos

Major: MBA

  • Den Leader of Cub Scouts Den 8, Pack 35
  • Assistant Coach Hendricks Avenue Baseball T-Ball Blue Jays

Eliopulos has maintained a 3.94 GPA during his tenure in the MBA program at JU. He has been in the insurance business for four years, focusing on the life and health side of the business. He has also helped develop a new educational division of Insurance Office of America. In addition to his career in the insurance industry, Eliopulos has worked as the Official Scorer of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the past eighteen seasons. The proud husband and father of three has also worked game days for Jacksonville University’s football, men and women’s basketball, and baseball teams for the past eight years. He is also involved in the community, serving as a cub scout den leader and little league baseball coach.


Mitchell Gallo

Major: Aviation Managemen

  • Aviation Management Tutor
  • Exam Proctor, JU School of Nursing
  • Brumo’s Circle of Excellence
  • National Society of Leadership and Success
  • Academic Integrity Council

Gallo says his success reflects the significant impact the staff and faculty of the DCOB have had on him and his colleagues. His surroundings and opportunities at JU have helped him develop into a top talent. He has always taken great pride in doing the best of his abilities in every aspect of his life. Being recognized as a top talent testifies to his work ethic and character.


Mackenzie Groark

Major: Business Analytics and Sports Business

  • Women’s Lacrosse Team
  • Sports Business Club
  • SAAC representative

Groark is always striving to learn and achieve more. She is motivated and determined in the classroom, on the field, and in life. She says her strong work ethic has led to her successes because she considers herself neither a gifted athlete nor student.


Bradford Hall

Major: Management

  • Black Student Union
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Working to start student organization for minority business students
  • Mentor to students in Duval County Public Schools
  • Congressional Black Caucus Institute for Political Education (Washington, D.C.)

As a fourth generation native of Jacksonville, Hall’s upbringing often reminds him that to whom much is given, much is expected. Family and mentors continuously encourage him to lead a life of excellence. Having such a strong foundation has enabled him to maintain a passion for excellence and service. Hall’s representation of JU extends beyond the campus to the greater community. He has committed countless hours to the students of his high school alma mater, Jean Ribault; teaching his mentees the importance of service, scholarship and excellence. These students have become de facto younger siblings to him. He counts it the greatest honor to model excellence in higher education and society, his ultimate goal for all of them. Being a member of the Education Committee of the NAACP Jacksonville Branch has uniquely positioned Hall to advocate tirelessly for literacy and business education in public schools. Business education is definitely underrepresented in public schools and if literacy rates do not rise, students’ decreasing ability to access business education is inevitable, Hall says.

Hall says his mission on this earth has become serving with excellence at all times. Whether it is achieving superior academic success or giving back to his community, he hopes his light will shine brightly.


Ian Hall

Major: Economics

  • JU Honors Program
  • JU Football team
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Hall has maintained an excellent GPA in Honors-level courses while managing the demanding schedule required for Division I football. He also was accepted into the 4+1 MBA program upon application to JU. An entrepreneur at heart, Hall has already managed two of his own small businesses (a moving company and a resale business). At JU, he has been honing his skills and advancing his knowledge of business to become an excellent candidate for a Spring internship. He admits that he has much to learn but says that he has much to offer as well.


Landon Harper

Major: Economics

  • Honors Student Association
  • Sigma Nu Fraternity
  • College Democrats
  • Admissions Department Student Worker
  • Geography Department Research Assistant

Harper is on track to graduate a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule. Having started as a traditional undergraduate student in fall 2015, he will graduate in December. He rose to leadership in his fraternity and helped found the JU College Democrats, becoming the group’s first president. He has been an active honors student since arriving and has mentored incoming freshmen each year since his first. Harper presented undergraduate economic research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the spring 2017 conference. He also was able to study abroad in Ecuador during the spring of 2017 with a class of JU students led by Dr. Oldakowski. He is majoring in economics and getting minors in both international studies and political science. Harper has been admitted to Johns Hopkins University and will start in the spring of 2018. He will pursue an M.S. in Applied Economics with a concentration in financial economics. After Johns Hopkins, he hopes to get a Ph.D. in Economics and pursue further research in macroeconomics.


Vladimir Jean

Major: Finance

  • US Navy Veteran (Engineer)
  • Student Government Association (S.G.A)
  • Ethnic Voices for Empowerment (E.V.E)
  • International Student Association (I.S.A)
  • Davis Entrepreneurship Organization (D.E.O)

A US Navy veteran, Jean says that going back to school after so many years has been a challenge. Jean is a real estate professional and entrepreneur (Sales and Investments since 2007) and is using his military benefits (G.I Bill) to further his education in finance by going  to college. He wants to connect his real estate experience with the financial sector. An adult student, married with four children, he has worked and gone to school full-time. Still, since starting at JU, he has kept a GPA of at least 3.0. He even took some hard finance courses and managed to earn As in all of them. He is highly motivated and loves working in a team environment. He possess strong leadership skills and has a great ethical background in his professional career. Jean gets the job done with honor, commitment, patient and integrity. He plans to attend graduate school in the spring of 2018 with the goal of becoming a real estate developer and lender.


Michael Keefe

Major: MBA

Keefe served five years in the Navy as an avionics technician where he supported reconnaissance aircraft in highly sensitive missions. Upon completing his time in the Navy he attended the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and graduated with honors with a degree in corporate finance. While enrolled at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, he was also selected for a logistics internship with ThyssenKrupp Steel. Following his graduation from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2007 and the completion of his internship, Keefe moved to Jacksonville, FL and started working for Fidelity Investments. During his ten year career thus far at Fidelity, Keefe has held numerous positions and is currently a retirement solutions representative.


Daria Kwong

Major: MBA

  • Phi Kappa Phi

Kwong has participated in the master’s program at JU while maintaining a full-time career. She has maintained an almost perfect GPA through a twin pregnancy and subsequent early delivery. She also has demonstrated leadership and diligence through her time at JU. She has utilized principles that she has been taught, which has helped her earn two promotions in her career during her enrollment in the MBA program. She will continue to use the knowledge she has gained to develop her career and provide leadership and assistance to her peers. Kwong spends most of her time outside of class on business projects and managing her family of five. At Florida Blue, her work projects focus on process improvements designed to reduce administrative expenses and improve the health and well being of Florida’s citizens.


Maria “Gabby” Leon

Major: Marketing

  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • National Society of Leadership and Success

Leon came to the United States from Ecuador for a new experience. She always gives her best effort every day as evidenced by her grades and working experience. She is well-versed in three languages: English, French and Spanish. She is grateful for every opportunity and sees all of her work in her personal and professional lives as an extension of herself. She currently works as director of planning at Mooney Financial.


Muhammad Liaquat

Major: Master’s In Accounting and Finance

  • Dolphin Student Investment Fund

Businesses change every day, and so do their needs. Liaquat is a self-starter who thinks outside the box and formulates ways to meet these ever-growing demands. As a leader, he continuously thrives to achieve his best every day and to set a benchmark for future leaders. Experiences and certain events have shaped him into a hard working individual. He has learned to love challenges and to see these challenges as an opportunity. Everything requires patience in life and at the end of the tunnel there is a beam of hope, he says.


Dana Mann

Major: Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership

  • Green Belt Certified in Lean Six Sigma
  • Working on a year-long national pressure injury prevention project within their organization to improve quality of care provided to patients.
  • Contributor of evidence-based practice articles for the Women Veterans Health Newsletter
  • Certified VHA mentor

Mann has created and sustained improvements related to outcomes and efficiency at her organization. She has: increased clinic efficiency from 20 patients a week in wound care to 40 patients a week; reduced cycle times from 43 minutes to 32 minutes with each patient; increased documentation time frames by reducing the notes from 42 hours to less than 24 hours; and improved follow-up care in 90 days from 14% to 99%.  Mann has a Master’s degree in Nursing Leadership from Jacksonville University and decided to pursue the degree in Organizational leadership to have well rounded knowledge in business and healthcare management.


Anthony Megas

Major: MBA

  • McKesson Military Resource Group Volunteer
  • Pop Warner – Youth football coach
  • Babe Ruth – Youth baseball coach

Megas began his journey to achieve his graduate degree a little more than two years ago. He was not sure how he would fit in advanced graduate study curriculum while sustaining a high-level performance at his day job at McKesson. It was very challenging at first but completing his first couple of classes motivated him to do more. As a single father who must juggle three beautiful children’s activities around his work and school schedule, life can get hectic some weeks. But he says that he would not trade it for the world because his kids have a role model that they can look up to at home, work and school. Going back to school for his graduate degree has been one of the best decisions he has made, he says. On top of the classroom success that he has achieved, he has been rated as a top performer at McKesson over the past year. He simultaneously implemented some large projects that are changing the way we do business within the healthcare industry. So, in playing important roles at home, work and school, he has delivered outstanding results in all three facets of his life. He looks forward to continuing this success as he completes his graduate degree.


Brittany Mennen

Major: MBA, Marketing

Despite a demanding career that involves frequent business travel, Mennen attends graduate classes at night. She works full-time as the Senior Manager of Integrated Merchandising and Marketing at Fanatics. Her multi-faceted career includes marketing sports-fan apparel to fans of all types including women as part of a company growth strategy. She also has completed seven supply chain certifications. A rising talent in Jacksonville’s business community, she has worked at strategic levels at four companies based in Jacksonville: Body Central, Daymon Worldwide at Southeastern Grocers, Interline Brands (a Home Depot company) and Fanatics.


Alexander Moyer

Major: MBA

  • CIT Toastmasters
  • Alpha Kappa Psi: The Professional Business Fraternity at Shippensburg University (undergrad)

Moyer is dedicated to scholastic endeavors and achievements. Embracing each opportunity brings him one step closer to obtaining his goals. His previous long-term goals are now short-term goals. By the age of 24, he is on a track to have his MBA degree as well as his CPA certification. By interacting and networking with Jacksonville University’s elite student body and staff, his professionalism and expertise have only strengthened. This has led to even greater improvements in his career.


Marquita LaTonya Nash

Major: Accounting

  • National Society of Leadership and Success

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Marquita relocated to Jacksonville, Florida in 2015 in pursuit of a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Marquita is an inducted member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a nominated member of Phi Kappa Phi, and consistently appears on the Dean’s List for academic achievements. She is active in her community, church, and local charity events. Her education, career, and success are top priorities while aiming to excel and achieve top results in every aspect of life. Marquita’s short-term goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant. She will sit for the first segment of the examination immediately following graduation in 2018.


Maelyn O’Connor

Major: Aviation Management

  • Alpha Eta Rho Professional Aviation Fraternity, President
  • Women in Aviation International, Member
  • Honors Student Association, Member
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Member
  •  National Society of Leadership and Success, Member

O’Connor is dedicated to her studies and to furthering herself both personally and professionally. She is an Honors student with a 3.9 cumulative GPA and a 4.0 GPA in her aviation courses. She has consistently been on the Dean’s List and shows excellence in her coursework. O’Connor has completed an internship at the Jacksonville Aviation Authority working in the Business Development department, and is currently working on undergraduate research related to her field of study. She is involved in aviation organizations and honor societies around campus, and her complex schedule shows high levels of responsibility and time management.


Mitchell Parker

Major: Accounting

  • Dolphin Student Investment Fund
  • JU Men’s Lacrosse Team

As a security analyst for the Dolphin Student Investment Fund program, Parker is currently analyzing several of the securities that are in JU’s portfolio as well as finding new stocks. On top of the Student Investment Fund, he works 30+ hours per week with Black Knight Financial Services while juggling a full course load. He also played for the Men’s Lacrosse team for the past four years and was voted in as team captain in his senior year by his teammates and coaches. Parker admits that transitioning from high school to college was a lot to handle. For the first couple of semesters, he was unsure of his path through the DCOB. In his fifth semester, he finally found success in accounting classes so he decided that accounting was his future. From there, his GPA has skyrocketed year-over-year. He has put in the work at JU, whether it be on the lacrosse field or in the classroom, and he is still striving for continual improvement.


Stephen Price

Major: Aviation Operations

  • 2016 JU Flight Team
  • Aviation Tutor
  • Group Leader for JU Orientation
  • Aviation Ambassador
  • Acted as the Davis College of Business representative for SGA last year
  • National Society of Leadership and Success
  • Sigma Chi Fraternity, Iota Gamma Chapter
  • Order of Omega, Beta Zeta Chapter

Price has learned the value of hard work. His senior year of high school presented him with a unique set of challenges when the diagnosis of degenerative eye disease threatened his dream of becoming a pilot. He underwent experimental surgery in Canada and the recovery was a long and difficult process. But he overcame the challenge and is a better person because of it, he says. It taught him the valuable lesson: you must control the things you can control because life will always present you with unexpected challenges. Through his commitment to studies, he has completed his four-year flight program in just two-and-a-half years and now works at the airport as a flight instructor, while maintaining an impressive GPA. He is also a flight instructor for JU’s flight school. In addition to excelling in academics, he has become a leader on campus, currently serving as vice president in his fraternity and as president of the Greek honor society Order of Omega.


Colton Tyler Sedlak

Major: Economics

  • Phi Delta Theta
  • Student Alumni Association
  • Student Ambassador
  • Marketing & Communications Coordinator (JU’s New Student Orientation),
  • Green Key Honors Society
  • Past Inter-fraternal Council Executive
  • Active Participant in the Economic Round Table series
  • One-Love Facilitator at Jacksonville University

Sedlak says that he has been molded and sculpted by every corner of a fantastic university. He is always seeking opportunities within the university that can either teach him new skills or assist him in sharpening his current abilities. The most important qualities he has gained through college are humility and patience. He hopes to continue his journey of enriching those around him and positively building additional traits that will prove worthwhile upon graduation.


Emina Selman

Major: MBA

  • Women ALLY’s Jacksonville chapter at Ally Bank

Selman could have easily become a victim of her circumstances. She is a product of two blue-collar workers that came to this country with a bag of clothes and some spare change to start a new life. She has vowed to exceed all goals and expectations set forth for her since she began her academic and professional journey. Since enrolling at JU, she has managed to maintain a 3.970 GPA while working full-time, continuously growing and evolving in her career. She aspires to become a C-level executive. She knows she can achieve her goals with her work ethic and determination, she says. She is dedicated to succeeding in her academics as well as her professional career.


Calin Skudlarek

Major: Business Analytics

  • Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society
  • National Society of Leadership and Success
  • Dean’s List
  • Sports Business Club

A student veteran, Skudlarek will be the first student to graduate from JU with a major in Business Analytics. In the Spring of 2018 he will begin a dual master’s program in Predictive Analytics and Business Administration at JU. Since entering the Davis College of Business, he has held himself to a high education standard, as shown by his GPA, while also displaying a strong work ethic by seeking out first-hand experience in his desired career field. In his position with the JU football team, he works to ensure that student-athletes have the support necessary to their success on-and-off the playing field. He also makes sure that the university is represented appropriately during all related events. He recently completed an internship with the American Junior Golf Association in which he traveled for almost four straight months to 13 different cities. He constantly employed the knowledge and leadership skills that he learned at JU to be a positive driving force for his co-workers and the organization’s patrons. When he leaves JU, his goal is to apply his strong analytical background to the sporting industry and continue to show the world why Jacksonville University is so highly touted as an educational institution.


Christopher K. Smith

Major: MBA

  • Medical Group Management Association
  • Baptist Health target development program

Smith says that when he considers what it takes to be recognized as a top talent at Jacksonville University a few characteristics immediately come to mind: pursuit of academic success, endless drive, and a desire for continuous self-improvement. He says that he can confidently say that he possesses all three traits. His career at the DCOB will be coming to a close soon, and as he reflects on the past two years he says that he has accomplished a great deal. He started at JU as a Kinne scholarship recipient, which was a huge honor that carried big expectations. Through hard work and determination, he maintained a graduate GPA of 3.86, and acquired valuable skills that he will use throughout out his career. While attending the Davis College of Business, he also excelled in his career at Baptist Health. In his current role as a financial analyst, he has been given the opportunity to participate in the target development program at Baptist Health. The program is very selective and is used to groom future leaders within the organization. Attending school while working in the dynamic field of healthcare was no easy task, but Smith says he was up for the challenge. He plans to continue to work hard to be an example of what it means to be a JU graduate.


Tianna Sparks

Major: Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership

  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Northeast FL Mentor
  • Atlantic Circle Young Professionals Group Board Member
  • United Way Volunteer
  • Florida Blue Toastmasters
  • Former United Way Stein Fellow
  • GenY Young Professionals Group (Florida Blue) Board Member
  • Human Services Group Events/Activities Group (Florida Blue) Committee Member

Raised by her grandmother and grandfather who has high school diploma and an elementary education. Sparks grandparents pushed her to do great in school. Once Sparks was accepted into graduate school, she knew the sky is the limit. Constantly evolving to reach her goals, Sparks immerses herself in activities that will help her growth in the workforce and the community. She sees herself as a great leader in the future because understands that great leaders help build great people.


Spencer Stockton

Major: Sport Business and Management

  • JU Baseball Team
  • Grand Slam Marketing Team
  • Student-Athlete Advisory Committee

Stockton has been a consistent student during his three years at JU. Though his GPA doesn’t jump through the roof, he says, he is a dedicated student-athlete who also contributes to other organizations and volunteer opportunities off campus. He prides himself on loyalty and making meaningful connections with his professors beyond the classroom.


Nicholas Testa

Major: Business Analytics

Testa believes that the true value of a person is measured by a complete and comprehensive 360° assessment of the individual. His determination and drive, his ability to interact effectively with others, and his value-based ethical grounding all contribute to his overall worth.  He also acknowledges that, while he may not have the most expansive resumé or the highest GPA, he believes he is a Top Talent because of his intellect. Though this might seem like a contradiction at first, he says, there is more to an individual than just their academic achievements. What makes him particularly special is his ability to think for himself. He learned at a very young age that school isn’t a test of intelligence but a test of the students’ retention of information. “True intelligence comes from one’s ability to think on their own and solve problems,” Testa says. In keeping with this, Testa’s favorite saying is: “Those that speak in quotes can’t think for themselves.” “Everyone should be seeking the truth, but they don’t,” instead, the status quo should always be challenged, Testa believes.


Aleksandr Vaysben

Major: MBA, Management Accounting

  • Jacksonville Jewish Center

A Government Analyst for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Vaysben says he is one of the best examples of using business training in an unconventional way. Instead of going the traditional path into the private sector, this past January he took a part-time role with the FDEP. The initial goal was for him to help the Northeast District implement a new CRM system in a six-month period. He completed the project in six weeks instead. Then he followed that up with multiple lean initiatives, which resulted in a full-time position. He has since created the first near-real-time dashboard to track productivity. He also has consistently partnered with management to redesign and implement new processes. In the year that he has been at JU, he has gone from a part-time employee to an integral member of the district’s leadership team.


Paige Warnock

Major: Accounting and Finance

  • Alpha Delta Pi Sorority
  • The Panhellenic Council
  • Accounting Club
  • Phinatics
  • Dolphin Student Investment Fund
  • Florida Institute of CPAs Student Ambassador
  • Greek Honors Society Order of Omega

Warnock has held many leadership positions on campus. She also has maintained a part-time job at Macquarie Group, a global investment firm, on its Global Financial Services Product Control Team. She works approximately 25 hours a week and plans to switch to full-time after she graduates in the Spring. Warnock says that in order to succeed in the business world you have to fully put yourself out there and utilize every opportunity that is made available to you. She can confidently say that without the connections she has made through numerous leadership positions and involvement in organizations, she would not have the success and leadership opportunities that she has today. She plans to utilize her recognition as a top talent to further her connections with not only students and faculty but the business professionals in the Jacksonville area.


Andrea Weiland

Major: MBA concentration in Finance and Accounting

  • March of Dimes Supporter

An energetic and ambitious person, Weiland constantly sets personal and professional goals for herself. She has a strong determination to accomplish anything she sets her mind to do. Her MBA program at JU has been a long-term goal that she is beyond excited to achieve. Weiland is a highly motivated and committed professional with strong interpersonal skills that has inspired others to develop themselves. During her career within different industries, she has held various leadership roles that allowed her to make a difference at her workplace in terms of relationships with colleagues, team members and clients. She looks forward to continuing to advance in her career and says that the knowledge and skills acquired at JU will contribute significantly to further developing herself.


Logan Wonn

Major: Finance/Business Analytics

  • JU Baseball Team

Wonn takes pride in his work in the classroom because it is a reflection of himself and his work ethic. He also says that his ability to maintain this level of high academic success while being a Division I student-athlete shows his ability to manage his time at a high level. This is also representative of his commitment to excellence on and off the field because he understands that honing these abilities will be paramount in finding future success. He also says that his academic success demonstrates his ability to work well with others in whatever setting is necessary to complete the quality of work that is expected.


Brittany Wright

Major: Business

  • Community outreach and faith-based support groups for women

As a young professional, Wright has embraced the expectations of the workplace with gratitude. It is not always what we know, but who we know, that paves our path to success, she says. The relationships that she has built both at JU and in the workplace have inspired her to always keep striving towards the goal. Working a full-time job and attending JU’s rigorous MBA program is extremely challenging, Wright says, but she works hard, stays organized, and gives 100% effort at all times. She also says that owning up to a mistake and taking the proper steps to fix it is better than even the slightest bit of dishonesty. Without integrity, you have nothing, she says. She plans to represent JU in the workplace as a proactive, cheerful, and fearless leader.



Honorable Mentions

Emily Adams

Major: Business Management


Thomas Barnhorst

Major: Business Marketing







Brittany Bowald

Major: Marketing and Management with a Professional Sales Concentration







Michael Cassala

Major: Finance and Marketing


Rachel Chaput

Major: Aviation Management and Flight Operations







Amanda Detmer

Major: International Business







Jacqueline Hodskins

Major: Accounting and Sport Business







Leul A. Hripa

Major: Aviation Management and Flight Operations


Throy Josephs

Major: Aviation







Meaghan Lohwater

Major: Business Administration


Jeffrey Myles

Major: Economics, Aviation Management







Petrina Reynolds

Major: Accounting, Finance, and Marketing







Natasha Ubani

Major: International Business and Spanish


Samuel Uhland

Major: Accounting and Finance




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