With a touch of sadness in her voice, Dean Sandy Richtermeyer delivered the news during a late-fall Manning School of Business faculty meeting: Senior business administration major Roma Aurora would be graduating in the spring, and the school would have to carry on without her.
That won’t be easy.
Aurora has become a strong and valued presence on campus, from her roles as president of both the Manning Leaders Council and Marketing Society, to her ambassador work for both international students and student alumni, to her participation in the DifferenceMaker Program.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t get involved early on and if I didn’t have professors and faculty who believed in me,” says Aurora, an Honors College student from North Andover whose concentrations are in marketing and management information systems.
As a freshman, Aurora’s poise and leadership skills caught the attention of lecturer Deb Finch, who recommended her for a spot on the Dean’s Student Leadership Council (DSLC) — a high honor for a first-year student.
“It felt good to be recognized and gave me a lot of confidence,” says Aurora, who was born and raised in India and moved to the United States with her family just before high school.
When the Manning School revamped the DSLC and rebranded it as the Manning Leaders Council, Aurora was voted its first president heading into her senior year. She has worked to create a more collaborative environment and improve the communication between the Manning School’s 14 different student organizations.
Outside the classroom, Aurora has spent summers working as a marketing and business development intern at a tutoring company, a marketing associate for a software developer and, most recently, as a recruitment operations coordinator in the university’s Graduate Admissions office.
And then there’s her volunteer work with the Lowell Association for the Blind, Habitat for Humanity and the International Medical Equipment Collaborative.
“I learned to always be on the lookout for networking opportunities,” says Aurora, who was among 10 students chosen by the dean to represent at the Manning School at this fall’s Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston.
Of all her experiences at UMass Lowell, Aurora says participating in DifferenceMakers her junior year may prove to be the most valuable. Working with mechanical, computer and electrical engineering students on “Project Starfish,” a prosthetic hand that uses a combination of 3-D printing and advanced machine learning software, Aurora’s team won the Innovative Technology Solution category (and a $4,500 prize) at the 2017 $50K Idea Challenge.
“Learning about muscle movements, machine learning software and how to market prosthetics to help patients isn’t something I ever thought I’d do in college,” says Aurora, whose team is exploring how to take the software to market. “As a business student, being part of a startup is the best experience I could get. I’ve learned how to collaborate in a cross-functional team.”
While the Manning School will be sad to see Aurora graduate in the spring, she may not be gone completely. She’s interested in coming back part-time to earn her master’s in business analytics.
“I do want to get out there and start working,” Aurora says. “I’m very excited to see what’s in store.”