For MBA candidate Frederick James, taking the road less traveled was always a necessity, never an option.
From leaving the comforts of his native West Indies to becoming the first member of his family ever to attend college, James has always walked a less conventional route.
Born in St. Croix in the West Indies, James moved to the U.S. when he was a young child to be with his father, leaving his younger siblings with their mother back home. The two would spend the next four years living in the Rochester area before Jamesâ€™ sisters would make the trip to the States permanently.
Despite the hardships encountered, there remains no doubt for James that the move was made with his best interests in mind.
“Thereâ€™s just a better chance for success here,” said James, who earned his undergraduate degree in 2009 and expects to complete his master’s of business administration this semester. “When you put yourself in certain atmospheres and places with certain people, you have a chance to succeed.”
A big part of that success is James’ Festa Fellowship, established by Oswego alumni Fred and MaryLynn Barbero Festa in 2006. The fellowship provides exceptional graduate students with a rÃ©sumÃ©-building job and provides an up-to-$10,000 stipend to help cover living expenses during the single-semester experience.
“For me, it was a tremendous help â€¦ Some of the things I learned from going to class I got to apply and see what worked and what didnâ€™t work. It really helped give me the experience I need,” he said of his fellowship experience at the Kinney Drugs executive office in East Syracuse.
Still, James vividly remembers watching his father work tirelessly day in and day out. Holding various construction and repair jobs, the elder James would do whatever was necessary to provide for his family.
That sense of determination rubbed off on his son, and played an integral role in helping Fred James become the first member of his family ever to go to college.
“I saw all this, and it gave me the mentality that I need to go to school and work to be successful,” he said. “They did a lot for me, so Iâ€™m trying to do everything I need to do so when I have children they will be able to have a lot of the same opportunities that I had.”
Now in the final stages of earning his MBA in marketing management, James again is unsure of the exact path that he wants to take once he graduates. But he remains steadfast in his desire not only to become a productive citizen of corporate America, but also hopefully someday becoming a teacher and mentor to young people in need of guidance, just like he was not so long ago.
“I just want to return the favor, since it was done for me,” he said.
Visit the giving website to explore numerous ways, including the Festa Fellowship, to support Oswego.
PHOTO CAPTION: American Dreamer—Oswego alumnus and current MBA candidate Frederick James is a first-generation American and Festa Fellow.
(Posted: Jan 17, 2011)