Lucas College and Graduate School of Business
Why did you choose your major?
I have always loved interacting with others and understanding why people communicate and behave the way they do. Initially, I wanted to pursue Psychology for my undergraduate degree, but after careful consideration, I realized that pursuing Business Management would allow me to study the psychology of people within organizations as well as the ability to create a larger network throughout my career. A degree in Business Management gives me the opportunity to continue learning as my career progresses, because every business setting is unique and possesses its own set of opportunities and challenges. As I begin my professional career, I hope to continue developing the skills necessary to excel in a leadership position and support others in achieving their goals.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
I am honored to have been nominated for the “best and brightest” award by my professors. It feels wonderful to be acknowledged for my achievements, as I have pushed myself throughout my college career to uphold my GPA as well as forge lasting connections with my professors and peers. I have prioritized my education from a very young age and, as a first-generation college graduate, I am proud to hold the title of President’s Scholar.
Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life? In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.
My family and friends have supported me endlessly throughout my life, whether it’s helping me celebrate my successes or advising and comforting me through challenges. My parents have motivated me to find my passions and to always put my best foot forward. They have pushed me academically while also emphasizing the importance of life balance.
Although there are many professors who have greatly contributed to my academic success, throughout my time at SJSU, Elizabeth Mullen in particular has believed in me and guided me through many opportunities. With her mentorship, I have completed the Gary J. Sbona Honors Program and gained incomparable experience that I will bring to my future endeavors
Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.
As a child, I remember thinking very existentially about life. Why are we here? What’s the point of life? Does anyone actually ever make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Not in a morbid or depressing way but in a contemplative, curious way. One day, I decided to bring these questions up to my dad, and after a long pause, he said “Well, there is no ‘point’ of life… We’re all here for a very short amount of time, and all we can do is try to be happy while we are. If you get to the end of your life and you can look back and say you did that, then you did alright.” I have taken his words and used them to make many decisions in my life. Although it sounds simple, looking internally and asking myself “Does this make me happy?” has helped me realize when something feels wrong and given me the ability to refocus and redirect my energy towards things that I think will bring me joy. This is something I practice while making every big decision in my life, including the decision to enroll at SJSU and study Business Management.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
The best advice I can give to other students is to take pride in your work. Many people have contributed to my success academically and otherwise, but my main motivation has been my desire to achieve the goals that I have set for myself, independent of anyone else’s opinion. I’ve also utilized my support system and asked for help when I needed it. It’s not you against the world; talk to your professors, complain to your friends, speak up when something doesn’t make sense. Above all, take your education into your own hands. If you have a question in class, ask it, if it still doesn’t make sense, look in your textbook, and if you still need more help, look it up online. We have a world of resources at our fingertips, we just need to know how to use them.
What makes you a Spartan?
As a Bay Area native, I was fortunate to have a school like SJSU so close by. The decision to transfer to San Jose State University was an easy one for me; the school presents so many wonderful opportunities for business majors, like the Gary J. Sbona Honors Program and the ability to build your network while still in college. The rigorous business program has given me the skills and confidence needed to excel in the industry. My college career has shown me my own ability to adapt, which I believe is one of the most important characteristics of a Spartan.
Nominated by Professor Elizabeth Mullen
"Ariel Lancaster Atkinson is one of the most talented students I have had the pleasure of working with while at SJSU. She consistently offered insightful comments to class discussions, delivered excellent individual work, and was a valued teammate on group projects. Her classmates and I greatly benefited from having her in class, and she will be greatly missed next year."
Nominated by Dr. Gretchen Lester
"Ariel is conscientious and a strong critical thinker. She often thought through challenges and assignments to a depth I’ve rarely seen in our undergraduates – really interested in the downstream effects of managerial decisions and alternative explanations for research findings. Her attention to detail and creativity were unmatched."