As a member of the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics’ Class of 2020, Caitlyn Fernandes from Dayton, Maryland has not had the typical final semester or commencement at UD due to the coronavirus outbreak. She, and her entire class, have shown incredible resilience, maturity and spirit while adjusting to the many unexpected changes that they have encountered.
Fernandes was nominated for this series by UD Assistant Professor of management information systems Kathryn Berkow, who said, “Caitlyn is unique in that she is both highly skilled and highly emotionally intelligent. She has strong technical skills and can apply those to problem solving within her major, but she is also the first to encourage a teammate or help solve a problem when needed. In addition, her creativity in working on her senior capstone project in business analytics was remarkable, where she generated an idea for a social media marketing solution based on her analytical findings.“
Q: How do you think you have changed from your first semester at UD to now?
Fernandes: When I came to UD I was afraid of change and felt intimidated by starting a new chapter of my life. I didn’t feel confident in my ability to excel in school and didn’t have great study habits, plus I only knew a couple people from my hometown that chose the same school as me. Now, I have confidence in my work and my abilities because I have learned the value of discipline. I’ve made lifelong friends that are dedicated and hard-working, along with some extremely valuable relationships with my professors. Being a Lerner student has changed my life in a huge way—I’ve developed into a much more outgoing person who enjoys taking on new challenges. I can’t imagine where I’d be without the UD community.
Q: What is your favorite place at UD?
Fernandes: My favorite place at UD is the fountain on the South Green. When I was touring campus as a high schooler, we reached the fountain toward the end of our tour and I got to take in how beautiful the campus was. It was in that moment that I decided that UD should be my home for the next four years. Every time I pass the fountain or choose to sit at it, I’m filled with nostalgia and that effusive feeling of excitement and curiosity for the future. It really brings me peace.
Q: What is the most memorable course that you took at Lerner?
Fernandes: The most memorable class that I took at UD was Data & Analytics with Professor Mark Serva. It left a huge impression on me because I felt like I had efficiently learned a skill from the ground up and I was completely in control of the grade I earned. It was my first experience with specifications grading, meaning that each assignment was graded for accurate completion and I needed to submit a certain number of assignments to achieve an A. This grading method allows for full transparency and understanding of what is expected in the class to earn a specific grade. I had never coded in Python before, so at first glance, I thought the semester would be an uphill battle. While I did have difficulties in the beginning, Professor Serva’s teaching style had us working collaboratively through examples each class which gave me a lot of practice. I learned how to work with others and find answers through research and trial and error. Once I completed the final project, I realized that I was proficiently coding in Python! It was definitely the most fulfilling course I’ve taken so far.
Q: What was your favorite signature UD experience?
Fernandes: My favorite signature UD experience was the fall concert in 2016. Chance the Rapper was performing and he was one of my favorite artists at the time! The concert was on October 4th, and my birthday is October 5th, so I went with a group of friends to bring in the night together. As soon as the show came to a close around 12 AM, confetti burst into the crowd and Chance was finishing one of my favorite songs. It felt like a scene from a movie. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. I really love college.” That’s still one of my favorite birthdays to date.
Q: What does being a “Lifelong Lerner” mean to you?
Fernandes: Being a Lifelong Lerner means applying a student mentality to everything you do. We can learn something from every experience in life, so being open and receptive to new information is crucial. It also means that Lerner will always be the start of my journey and I’ll hold my time there close to my heart for the rest of my life. I would love to be a part of a mentor program for Lerner in the future so I can give back in the same way that my professors and mentors gave to me.
Q: What are your plans following graduation?
Fernandes: I plan to work for JPMorgan Chase as an analyst in the Chase Leadership Development Program. I would also like to pursue a MBA and JD in the future.