Thanks to a work-study program at Cristo Rey Boston High School, Kanya Derisme already had two summers of internship experience at Boston Consulting Group on her LinkedIn profile before starting college. As a full-time office assistant, Derisme worked with several departments, including human resources, research and marketing.
“I realized I had a passion for business and an interest in marketing,” the Boston native says. “I could see myself doing this and thought, ‘What can I study to possibly be in this position in a couple of years?’”
Derisme found her answer at UMass Lowell, where she declared a marketing concentration in the Manning School of Business and a minor in digital media in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
“I want to go into digital marketing, and I feel like the business school has prepared me well,” says Derisme, who chose the Manning School over other options because “I wanted to be part of something that was growing.”
While Derisme’s coursework has provided the skills and knowledge necessary to help her reach her career goals, it’s her participation in student organizations — notably Joy Tong Women in Business and the Marketing Society — that has revealed her leadership capabilities.
“Without those two organizations, I feel like I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” says Derisme, who joined the groups as a freshman and became president of both her senior year.
In spring 2020, Derisme was named Student Leader of the Year by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership.
“That was definitely a surprise. I was very grateful,” says Derisme, who credits Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer and faculty members Elissa Magnant and Susanne Ferrara for helping her develop her leadership skills.
Derisme was able to connect with students outside of the business school by joining the Haitian American Student Association, the Black Student Union and the Association of Students of African Origin.
“I’m not a straight-A student, so I take pride in being in organizations and talking to my fellow students,” she says. “We’re not all learning the same thing, but we still have that connection. It’s created a great atmosphere for me.”
When protests against racial injustice raged across the country in the summer of 2020 following the killing of George Floyd, Derisme was one of three student leaders from the Manning School to host a panel discussion, “Lifting Our Voices.”
Derisme plans to work while continuing her business studies in graduate school (she has applied to UML, Northeastern University, Boston University and Boston College).
“These four years flew by very quickly. I remember starting those first-year classes, and now I’m on to those 4000-level courses,” she says. “I knew this day would come, but sometimes I sit back and think, ‘Wow, you’re actually graduating from a four-year university.’”
In truth, it’s what Derisme had planned for herself ever since that high school internship.