Skip to main content

October 2017

Business Prof Teams with Mitchell Scholar

Dr. Marcel Robles and Tyler Swafford

More than 3,600 miles separate Kentucky and Ireland, but an Eastern Kentucky University business professor and one of her recent star pupils bridged the gap and raised EKU’s profile on the Emerald Isle recently.

Dr. Marcel Robles, a professor in EKU’s School of Business, and Tyler Swafford, a May 2017 EKU graduate and Mitchell Scholar presently studying at University College Dublin, collaborated as co-presenters and co-authors for the proceedings at the International Association for Business Communications Conference, for which Robles is first vice president, in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.

In Fall 2016, Swafford, then also the starting quarterback for the EKU Colonels, became the first Mitchell Scholar from any public institution of higher learning in Kentucky in the nearly 20-year history of the program. A few months later, he became one of only 57 nationally to receive the prestigious Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship and the fifth Eastern student in the past eight years to earn the honor.

“My ABC colleagues were so impressed with Tyler’s research and presentation skills, business content knowledge, professionalism and poise,” Robles said. “He truly helped us give EKU Business an international name in in an international business association.”

Swafford received a scholarship from the association to attend the conference, and an additional $400.

“As an EKU alum, Tyler has continued to make EKU proud,” Robles said. “Definitely on the road to success with the ‘world as his oyster,’ Tyler is the epitome of an EKU graduate.”

After completing his studies as a Mitchell Scholar in Ireland, Swafford is deciding between law school and a master’s of business administration degree, possibly at EKU, as his next step.

In addition to his perfect 4.0 GPA as a globalization and international affairs major, along with his business minor, at EKU, Swafford was selected to present his Honors thesis, a comparative study on the development of democracy in Eastern Europe, at the 31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research. He also received an Outstanding Witness Award as a member of EKU’s mock trial team at the 2017 American Mock Trial Association National Championship Qualifier Tournament. Eastern went on to finish 15th in the national event. He capped his years on the Richmond campus by serving as a student commencement speaker for the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. Read more EKUStories...

Senior to Present at National Conference

Tessa Aminetzah

International Business senior Tessa Aminetzah has been chosen to represent SAM’s manuscript titled, “TeamUp, Connecting Innovation across Industry Borders” in a presentation at the Academy of Business Research Conference on November 1-3, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas. This is the second time that SAM has targeted this research conference and been able to send representatives and hold presence at the conference.

Dr. Qian Xiao, one of EKU’s management professors comments on the success of SAM, “This national conference provides a great opportunity for SAM members to gain invaluable experience sharing the work they are doing to advance scholarship and research in management. This also helps build awareness toward and expand influences from SAM@EKU. No doubts that SAM will be well represented by Tessa Aminetzah!”

Tessa has big plans for her future. She will be moving to Jersey City, N.J., in January for a 5-month graduation internship in corporate development. In addition, she plans on writing her dissertation with the hope of graduation in June in the Netherlands. Once she has graduated from both universities she plans on getting a master’s degree or staying in the field of corporate development/management consulting.

Tessa elaborates on the opportunity she has been given to present her research this month, “The opportunity to develop my own business concept has been a challenging journey that involved a constant change of mind, but with a clear vision at heart of accelerating and connecting innovation. I am grateful and excited to present my project next week at the Academy of Business Research in order to gain valuable feedback, to show how TeamUp would change the way industries employ innovation, and to show that hard work pays off.”

Prof Tells Life Story in Autobiography

Faridah Awang (photo by Carsen Bryant)

She came from a poor family in rural Malaysia that often struggled to put food on the table.

Her parents divorced when she was 2, and she was raised by a grandmother who had no formal education.

When she did persevere to pursue a college education more than 9,000 miles from home at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, an economic recession in her homeland in 1998 resulted in the suspension of her scholarship. A divorced and single mother at the time, she worked for a year as a full-time custodian at SIU to finance her education and support her young son.

Faridah Awang could have become just another statistic, relegated to the margins of society, but for the vision of that grandmother who nonetheless prized education and for the photographs on the free calendars that adorned the walls of their modest home in Endau, Johor.

Perhaps it was those calendar scenes from all around the world that permeated Awang’s childhood home with a distinct sense of hope. Awang remembers learning that her first name meant, in a word, “exceptional,” and her grandmother’s vision that “one day, I would make a name for myself in a foreign land.”

The grandmother’s dream came true. Today, Dr. Faridah Awang is an award-winning professor of corporate communications and technology at Eastern Kentucky University and the first Malaysian-American to earn a full professorship in her academic field in the U.S. An autobiography about her life is a big hit back in Malaysia, where Awang is a regular guest on radio and television talk shows, and plans are underway to produce a movie based on her life.

Awang’s grandmother worked as a midwife and sold homemade herbal medicines. Still, it was something of a treat when the household – which also consisted of an older brother and cousin – could enjoy nothing more than thin rice porridge. “Mostly, we didn’t eat,” she recalled.

But that didn’t stop Awang from becoming a ravenous learner who represented her schools in regional, state and national debates and lectures, and participated in sports and student organizations. After earning a college degree in Malaysia, she taught for a time at the University of Technology Malaysia before earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Southern Illinois.

The master’s degree almost didn’t happen. Short of funds, Awang faced the prospect of curtailing her dream when an SIU faculty member came to the rescue. Knowing her work ethic and sensing the enormous potential in Awang, Business Education Professor Dr. Marcia Anderson funded the final semester of her student’s master’s degree and helped her find funding for her doctoral degree.

“She was the most diligent, productive, focused and intelligent student with whom I have had the honor of knowing and teaching,” Anderson said of Awang. “I especially remember her as a single mother during those years with negligible financial resources, and her son would come to night class with her. He would do his homework or read outside the classroom, and we would chat with him during breaks “

Awang proved she was worthy of her mentor’s confidence, winning the Outstanding Master’s Thesis and the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation research awards in 1998 and 2002, respectively, as well as the national Delta Pi Epsilon research award in 2002. It was the first time that a Malaysian-American had won the awards.

“She has gone on to become a well-respected business education professor and national leader in various business professional associations,” Anderson beamed.

Awang joined the EKU faculty in 2002 and was soon winning awards on the Richmond campus, including the Jack L. Dyer Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011 and a Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year honor in 2015. Awang has held various leadership positions, including president, of the Association for Business Communication, Southwest U.S. Region, and co-chaired the 2011 Association for Business Communication International Convention in Montreal, Canada.

EKU colleague Dr. Lana Carnes called Awang “a student-centered professor who has devoted her career to helping students succeed, a consummate professional and a much emulated role model for students and faculty alike. Perhaps because of obstacles and challenges in her life, she has developed a strength that I find admirable. This strength manifests itself in a strong work ethic, an undeniable moral compass, and a passion for living life to the fullest.”

Back home in Malaysia, Awang was selected as the Distinguished Scholar for her first International Education Forum. More than 100 educators, academic administrators and working professionals participated with the Malaysian Minister of Higher Education in launching the event.

The autobiography, “Musafir Cinta 4 Musim,” which is not yet available in English but translates as “A Journey into a Four-Season Land,” sold more than 2,000 copies in its first week of release this summer and continues to fare well.

“I thought I could share my story and let others know it’s going to be OK,” Awang said.

Her son, Hafiz, who was only 5 when his mother arrived in the U.S. and watched as she struggled to realize her dream and set a positive example, went on to graduate from Model Laboratory High School, recently finished his MBA in marketing and business intelligence at Xavier University and is enjoying a successful career with Verizon Communications.

Looking back at her amazing and often difficult journey, Awang “wouldn’t change a thing. To be successful,” she explained, “you have to grow through tests. You have to be uncomfortable. Many times we become victims of our environment, and we let that dictate our life. You have to rise above that emotion. Life is not easy, but don’t let one part of your life ruin you.”

Like her grandmother once told her, “When you love someone, that person may leave you, but when you love education, that will last forever.”

Read more EKUStories...

Golfing for a Special Cause

L-r: Jason Eberle, Phillip Webb, Scott Web, and Tom Pendergrass

On October 20, the alumni of the PGA Golf Management program, staff, and students at EKU hosted a tournament for a very important cause in the John Hines Classic. Seventy-six people played on 19 teams in a four person scramble to raise money for The ALS Association. John Hines is the head golf professional at the University Club at Arlington where the tournament was held. Read more...

MMIB Leaders Recognized

2017 CBT Hall of Distinguished Alumni honorees

Last Friday, the College of Business and Technology honored two MMIB family members Dr. Janna Vice and Mr. Kirby Easterling along with other CBT alumni - who have become leaders in their fields and made significant impacts on the local community, the nation, and the world through their work.

Because of the credit their professional lives have brought to the University, each has been inducted into the EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

These distinguished alumni and our outstanding faculty and staff work together to grow the Maroon, and provide excellent education experience to our students. 

Congratulations to Janna and Kirby! Go Colonels!

Maroon SHRM Announces Fall 2017 Officers

SHRM 2017 fall officers with advisor Dr. Allen Engle (far left)

EKU’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is a student run organization open to all majors interested in the human resource management profession.

Members engage in a number of professional, charitable, and service projects throughout the semester. SHRM currently holds officer elections at the beginning of each semester, providing students a channel in which to exercise leadership.

Fall 2017 SHRM officers, all human resource management majors, are pictured (left to right) with faculty advisor, Dr. Allen Engle (far left):

  • Kaitlyn Murphy (SR, London, Ky.) – Chief Executive Officer
  • Courtney Runyon (SR, Harrodsburg, Ky.) - Chief Learning Officer
  • Natalie Lecompte (JR, Shelbyville, Ky.) - Chief Financial Officer
  • Chris Bonagofski (SR, Stanford, Ky.) - Chief Operating Officer

Members also receive a wide variety of professional benefits from participating in Maroon SHRM. Other events include guest speakers from business leaders in related industries, insight into graduate school options, plant walkthroughs, and other networking experiences.

Maroon SHRM meetings are posted on the SHRM bulletin board outside of Room 102 in the EKU Business and Technology Center.  If you are interesting in joining Maroon SHRM in the spring 2016 term contact the faculty advisor, Professor Allen D. Engle at

Engle Conquers Virtual Borders


Allen D. Engle, Sr., Foundation Professor of Management and the Harold Glenn Campbell Endowed Chair of International Business was two places at one time on Friday morning, September 29th – thanks to Skype technology.

At 9:30 am (3:30 Central European time) Engle was the Keynote Speaker at the HSZOSZ (Hungarian Human Resource practitioner) Conference on the campus of Debricin University in Debricin, Hungary (the country's second largest city). This year’s conference theme was ”Impact of Globalizations and other Changes on Human Resource Management".

Originating in his EKU office, Engle delivered his keynote address, "Trends and Tendencies in the HR Practices of U.S. Firms”. The 30-minute Skyped presentation was moderated on site in Debricin by Professor József Poór, an academic affiliated with several universities in Hungary, Slovenia and Romania and a long-time research collaborator with Engle. Afterward, the audience actively engaged in fifteen minutes of translated questions and answers.

Having concluded his Hungarian keynote address, Engle personally joined colleagues in EKU's Business and Technology Center. At EKU, the last Friday in September is set aside for Assurance of Learning activities. The Department of Management, Marketing and International Business had convened for the day to review curriculum, discuss leaning objectives, teaching strategies and new program options. The day is also set aside for faculty to share academic experiences from the past academic year.

Open /*deleted href=#openmobile*/