“The most important thing that Southeast has given to me is the opportunity to lead,” Southeast Missouri State University senior Bryan Kujawa said of his time as a student at the University. Since his first semester at Southeast in fall 2007, Bryan has done just that.
A 2010 candidate for Southeast Man of the Year, Bryan, of Fenton, Mo., is a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Beta Gamma Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Eta Sigma and the Finance and Economics Club. He serves as a Presidential Ambassador, a student worker in the President’s Office, president of the International Business Club and representative on Student Government, including two years as an executive board member. He participated in the student seminar for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., last spring and joined the Southeast Donald L. Harrison College of Business on two short-term study abroad trips to Italy, Spain, Ireland, Gibraltar and Morocco. To top off the list, he has also had two internships: one as an International Institute economic development intern in St. Louis and the other as an intern at Montgomery Bank in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
No one can say Bryan hasn’t taken advantage of what the University has to offer.
“From day one, I’ve basically been told and shown that my future is what I make of it. It’s the opportunities I’ve taken to step up as a leader that have formed me into the person I am today,” Bryan said. “Getting involved at Southeast has really enhanced my college experience. Besides strengthening my leadership experience, I’ve started friendships, expanded my professional network and made my time here fulfilling.”
Bryan says that he realized Southeast was a perfect fit for him right from the beginning.
“I think it’s easy to get lost in the crowd at many other schools and be cast into roles that don’t allow you to reach your full potential. At Southeast, there are no ‘big fish’ or ‘little fish.’ Everyone is given the chance to make an impact, and it’s up to them to take advantage of it,” Bryan said.
While Bryan was certain about his college choice from day one, he says he initially had trouble choosing a major. He originally intended to work towards a fine arts major, but after taking a finance course early in his college career, he decided business suited him more. His interest in global issues led him to pursue a second degree in international business, he said. Projected to graduate in May 2011, Bryan will enter the workforce with degrees in finance and international business and minors in Spanish and economics.
Although he has a passion for learning, Bryan says he would like to get professional experience before returning to school to receive his MBA.
“I plan on working at first for two or three years to build up my work experience, but I love to learn and won’t stay out of the classroom for long. I’ve tossed around the idea of getting my doctorate in business and teaching at the university level, but that is a really long-term goal,” he said. “I think the future is wide-open, which is both scary and unbelievably exciting.”
It’s hard to imagine Bryan has time outside of class and extracurricular activities to enjoy any types of hobbies, but he says when he does find time, he likes to play guitar, paint, draw and watch St. Louis Cardinals games.
An aficionado of baseball, Bryan began a blog on the Cardinals his freshman year and has kept up with it ever since. He says he also really enjoys travelling.
“The study abroad trips I took through Southeast really opened my eyes to the rest of the world and gave me a travel bug I haven’t been able to shake since,” Bryan said.
While the University is filled with exceptional students who have taken advantage of the endless opportunities available, Bryan definitely sticks out among them.
“Don’t settle for being a bare-minimum student; push yourself and make mistakes in the process. Take advantage of all the open doors around you while they’re there,” Bryan advises.
It’s clear Bryan has followed his own advice.