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From being on the “dean’s squad” to serving as a volunteer and mentor to achieving high academic honors, Trevor Sutton’s life as an East Central University student was busy but beneficial.

Sutton finished strong after being involved in ECU’s new Business Scholars Program. He achieved a master’s degree in accounting from the university this past fall and, as a result, was the first graduate to come out of the program, which is part of the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business and sponsored by Kellogg & Sovereign Consulting, LLC, of Ada.

“I strived to be involved in as much as possible,” said Sutton. “It’s important to be dedicated to school work and build relationships at the same time. I’m proud to have graduated from ECU.”

Sutton says he didn’t realize that he was the first to come through the program.

“I didn’t even think about it (being the first out of the program) until (Stonecipher School of Business) Dean (Wendell) Godwin sent out an email congratulating me,” Sutton said. “I never had a feeling like that before.”

Participants must be in a business-related major. They must have a minimum 3.25 cumulative grade-point average and a 3.5 GPA in their major. They must also volunteer 10 hours of service a month and must be on campus for two years.

Sutton maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his college career, including his master’s work.

Those involved in the program may serve as event volunteers or department hosts, be involved in student recruiting and serve as mentors or perform public relations tasks, whether it be with social media or print media or with bulletin boards and displays.

Being in that pioneering position of the business program seemed unlikely for Sutton, who described himself as shy and reserved heading into college.

“I figured out the importance of being involved and it kind of got me out of my shell,” said Sutton.

One way out of the shell was being involved in extracurricular activities, which promoted being a part of a group with the same mindset. Another was networking and forming relationships.

“Meeting (ECU alums) Jim Gray and Michael Prince, getting to go to their neck of the woods (in New York City) and having real conversations with them was awesome,” said Sutton, who along with other members of the Business Scholars Program, went to New York in the spring of 2015.

“These people are creating a legacy that we could look at and see that the School of Business has produced many success stories,” Sutton said.

Gray, who earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration from ECU, is a 32-year veteran of the utility industry. He has spent the last 16 years applying his in-depth knowledge to multiple SAP computer implementations ranging from municipal water systems to interstate gas and electric operations.

Prince, currently president and COO with Cole Haan, was former COO with Guess International and CFO with divisions of Nike and Converse.

“I was fortunate to have Trevor as a student employee in my office and was able to see something special in him early one. I was impressed with his faith, character, strong work ethic and passion for education,” said Godwin. “He was a role model for our students without even realizing it. Trevor is a fine young man. I have high expectations for his career and his future overall. He will continue to represent the highest standards of our program and has set the bar extremely high for our current students.”

Sutton is happily employed at Citizen’s Bank of Ada after finishing an internship. He has been with the bank for more than a year.

“It’s a great place to work and Dean Godwin was instrumental in helping to set me up,” said Sutton. “I appreciate him constantly making an effort to find opportunities for his students.”

By participating in the program, members have a closer relationship with the dean of the business school.

“One of the perks of the program is being on the “dean’s squad,” so to speak. Students are able to develop a closer relationship with the dean, which can pay huge dividends in the networking realm,” said Sutton.

Sutton says the Business Scholars Program not only can benefit students, but has the opportunity to add prestige to the school of business.

“I’m proud to be at the start of it and to give back and see it grow,” Sutton said.

As a student at ECU, Sutton was part of the collegiate ministry at the Baptist Student

Union where he led music and Bible studies. He was also part of the Honors Student

Association, serving as a mentoring branch leader. Sutton also served in the Student Center for Public Trust, Business Leaders Association and Delta Mu Delta.

“I tried to be involved as much as I could and build connections,” Sutton said. “It took me a while, but I started to see that I wanted to make a difference on campus. Involvement with the Business Scholars and many other programs have created an avenue by which I could invest in other people on campus while getting a fantastic education. Though I have graduated, the experiences from college will extend into what I’m doing now and will present future opportunities.”

Sutton also serves as youth minister at Tupelo First Baptist, where he has served for three year.

“I really enjoy in investing in people, whether it be at church or at the bank,” said Sutton.


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