By Eric Dubrow
Elm Staff Writer
Associate Professor of Business Management Susan Vowels used her extensive and practical knowledge of the business world to inspire her students to conduct unique research and become the next generation of socially responsible entrepreneurs.
Prior to joining the Washington College community, Vowels had experience in the private sector. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College in 1974, and in her own words “the quintessential liberal arts education,” Vowels found a job at IBM. There, she received a strong background in information systems and information technology. She worked there for three years, and then found a job with a wholesale distributor near Chestertown.
Eventually, Vowels wanted to further her education.
“Then I went to pursue an MBA, and remembered how much I like school,” she said. She earned her degree from the University of Delaware in 2001.
At WC, Vowels has plenty of opportunities to engage with her students. She is the co-director of the Information Systems minor, and is a Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow, a title awarded for leading student teams in Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE).
SIFE, although a business organization and an outlet for budding entrepreneur, is “more of a service organization, because the whole objective is to use business to help people improve their lives,” she said. She finds SIFE to be beneficial to the community and the students because, “business management is all about social structures and organizations, and because we live in the United States, we have this free enterprise system, and so there are ways that people can actually make an impact and actually change their lives,” said Vowels.
Vowels is also an advisor for the senior Capstone projects. The Capstones often produce unique research, since many business management students often have a strong focus in other subjects.
“Business management is one of those fields that can complement almost any other area,” Vowels said.
One of the most memorable projects that Vowels guided had to do with the business of wedding gift registries.
“This student was a gender studies minor, and so she combined that interest with her business management Capstone. She was interested in wedding registries, and apparently no-one’s done any research in that area,” she said.
Ultimately, Vowels finds that the Capstones are a fulfilling way for business management students to end their studies at WC.
“I’m so happy that we do Cap- stones here, because I think for any student, they’re going to get something of value out of it,” she said. Vowels’ dedication to her students and their work all but ensures it.