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Connor Ryals, an accomplished senior graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/marketing, will lead her class as the summer 2023 graduation marshal for Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business.
Auburn’s summer commencement ceremonies are set for Aug. 4-5.
“It fills me with an overwhelming sense of pride,” Ryals said after learning of the honor. “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead my peers during the summer commencement ceremony, symbolizing our collective accomplishments and embodying the values of Auburn University.”
Ryals began learning about those values and the Auburn Creed at an early age, having grown up locally in Auburn and being a lifelong fan of the university.
One of her favorite memories? “It was my first day at Auburn University and my older sister Mattie, who had just graduated from Auburn showed me around campus, shared some tips of what she had learned throughout her time at Auburn, and even joined me for my first lecture of the new school year,” she said.
After graduation, Ryals will move to Atlanta where she is set to begin work at E&J Gallo, a family-owned company in the U.S. wine industry, by joining its Sales Leadership Development Program.
“I made the decision to pursue a business degree in marketing for several reasons,” Ryals said. “One of the main reasons is the versatility of marketing, which offers a diverse range of career paths. Marketing serves as an essential foundation for every successful business and will always remain relevant.
“In today's ever-changing landscape, marketing is constantly influenced by evolving consumer behavior and advancing technology. This means there will always be something new and exciting to learn in the expansive world of marketing.”
She credits her parents, grandparents and siblings for their “incredible support,” and also notes that “witnessing my father's accomplishments as a successful businessman, who himself holds a business degree, served as a powerful catalyst, inspiring me to pursue my own academic journey in the same field.”
Ryals, in addition to learning about the business world while at Harbert, also feels appreciation for the opportunities and personal examples afforded her regarding lessons in leadership, a quality reflected in her selection as the 2023 summer graduation marshal.
“Through part-time jobs, organizations and friendships, I have experienced the responsibilities and growth that come with leadership,” she said before offering her definition of the word. “True leadership involves being present during times of success and during the most challenging days. I have gleaned this wisdom from the mentors I deeply admire, individuals who exemplify the qualities of tenacity and compassion in their leadership.”
Her internships include work with retail grocery store chain ALDI as a district manager intern; and with Ricoh USA Digital Solutions as a sales development intern.
Harbert faculty member Danielle Corrigan, program champion in the Department of Marketing, nominated Ryals for the summer marshal honor.
“Whether it’s as a student, an employee, or intern, Connor leaves an impression on those she interacts with,” Corrigan wrote in her nomination letter. “While being a full-time student and completing internships, Connor also worked (at a local restaurant), which is where I first met her. Her interpersonal skills shined so much as a server that I remembered her when I took over the program champion role.
“She’s extremely determined, positive, and will make an impact at any company where she works post-graduation.”
Ryals “without a doubt” plans to continue visiting Auburn on a regular basis, she said, and “continuing to be a part of Auburn’s fan base!”
The summer graduate says she is excited about exploring her future and shares that excitement about her classmates.
“I am a determined and ambitious individual, fueled by a relentless drive for personal and professional growth. I am thrilled and energized to embark on this next phase of my life, and I deeply appreciate the opportunities that have come my way,” Ryals said. “I eagerly anticipate the connections, friendships and professional relationships that lie ahead, as I embrace the future with open arms.
“To my fellow peers at Auburn University, I extend my heartfelt best wishes and proudly declare, War Eagle!”