BEMIDJI — After four years at Bemidji State University, Alaskan Melody Hoza is coming out like a pro.
With BSU’s graduation on Friday, May 6, Hoza has mixed emotions about the big day.
“I’m very excited because it’s a great achievement to have graduated,” Hoza said. “With that comes the uncertainty of ‘what am I going to do next?’ That’s what I’m figuring out right now.”
As a business administration student, Hoza envisions a career in business-to-business sales or marketing, an area she has explored since her sophomore year of college.
She is in no rush, however, as she hopes to travel around the country before entering the full-time workforce.
“I’m currently looking for potential jobs, but I don’t want one that might not be a good fit,” Hoza said. “I just want to relax after four years of college.”
Hoza’s love of travel began at her home in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she lived with three older siblings who all left the state for college.
“It seemed like they were having some great experiences and I really wanted to grow that way. The school I would have gone to in Alaska was about 20 minutes from my house,” Hoza said before detailing why she chose BSU.
“It was affordable and they had all the programs I was looking for,” Hoza added. “I also wanted to be somewhere that would still feel like the ‘northern snow experience’ which is why I ended up visiting BSU in person and fell in love with it.”
His participation in the BSU chapter of the American Marketing Association allowed him to travel around the country for conferences and contests, not to mention the networking and professional development opportunities that came with them.
Most recently, Hoza attended the International Collegiate Conference held March 16-20 in Chicago, Illinois where she participated in a sales role play competition where she received a script and a product to sell and had 10 minutes with a potential buyer to close the sale.
She also participated in the conference’s Perfect Pitch, which involved giving a 90-second speech about herself to a potential employer.
Hoza placed second out of 61 students competing in the sales role play and placed in the top 15 out of 180 students in the Perfect Pitch.
“One of my favorite accomplishments was getting second place in the sales competition because it was the culmination of the hard work I put in throughout the year and I got to see my growth with every competition,” Hoza said.
She also traveled to Kennesaw, Georgia for a national sales contest, another opportunity that followed more than a year of virtual lectures and classes.
Hoza was supposed to study abroad in Oxford, England in the spring of 2020 as part of EuroSpring, a two-month study abroad program. Being back in Alaska and not planning to return to Bemidji until this fall, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has shattered those international travel plans.
Hoza returned to Bemidji in the fall of 2020 and noted the gradual return to normalcy especially during this current school year.
“I wanted to be back in Bemidji, and it was amazing last year to see things start up again, especially after feeling stuck for so long,” Hoza said.
She credits her family and BSU business professor Angie Kovarik as her greatest mentors, especially for recognizing her strengths and supporting her throughout her studies.
In addition to the pandemic-related challenges, Hoza admitted to comparing herself to her siblings and figuring out what her own strengths were.
“I grew up in a very academic family, so sometimes I felt like I was competing with them,” Hoza added. “One thing I had to realize is that just because maybe I don’t have their strengths doesn’t mean I don’t have mine. It really helped that people like Angie saw those things in me and helped me realize that I had those cool strengths.
Looking to the future, Hoza’s main motivation is to help others.
“At the end of the day, I believe that if you want to be successful, you have to know how to help others and that will help you in return,” Hoza said. “It goes with my family, my faith and just the way I try to live my life.”
Bemidji State will hold three graduation ceremonies at the Sanford Center on Friday, May 6, one for each college. Each ceremony is also available live on BSU’s social media pages.
A ceremony for the College of Arts, Education and Humanities will be held at 9 a.m. Graduates of the College of Business, Mathematics and Science will be recognized at noon. The College of Individual and Community Health will hold its ceremony at 3 p.m.