NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University graduate student Stephan McLawrence always dreamed of being a successful entrepreneur who could take care of his family and create jobs for young people from his homeland, Carriacou, Grenada. SFA’s Rusche College of Business has helped him get closer to achieving that dream through its corporate partnerships.
McLawrence will receive his Master of Business Administration in May, and through the college’s partnerships, he’s already secured a sales and operations trainee position with Hajoca, a privately held wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating and industrial supplies based in Philadelphia.
His background in banking and desire to help others be financially responsible inspired him to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from SFA, which he received in May 2021. Before earning his degrees, however, McLawrence had to make his way to SFA from Carriacou, a 13-square-mile island in the Caribbean with a population of 10,000.
“Because of our size and an ever-increasing population, opportunities for talented young individuals are scarce,” McLawrence said. “I took it upon myself to help address this issue and knew that becoming a successful entrepreneur required vast amounts of knowledge and expertise.”
McLawrence finished school in Carriacou at age 19 and worked multiple jobs for the next four years to earn money for college.
“Throughout that journey, I heard about SFA, the campus life and scholarship opportunities from a friend of mine and decided to apply,” McLawrence said.
That decision has garnered him a bachelor’s and master’s degree from SFA, as well as landed him a post-graduation job to work toward his ultimate entrepreneurial goal.
Prior to SFA, McLawrence hadn’t heard of Hajoca. When he became a graduate assistant for the College of Business dean’s office, he helped prepare for Hajoca Day, one of several days the college dedicates to corporate partners so students can learn more about each company and their job opportunities.
“Employers are seeking to hire our many talented students, and at the same time, our students are seeking career options with successful companies,” said Dr. Timothy Bisping, dean of the College of Business. “It is a mutually beneficial relationship, and we are honored to offer these partnerships to both companies and our students.”
McLawrence discovered that Hajoca’s sales and operations training program leads to promising positions with the company. Hajoca recruiters discovered a strong potential addition to their workforce.
“This experience allowed my recruiters to meet me face-to-face and learn more about me as an individual and potential candidate,” McLawrence said. “And it gave me the opportunity to express to them my immense interest in the position, learn all about the company and their culture, and create a relationship no online recruiting app can offer.”
Hajoca recruiters agree.
“The interactions with each student, from informal meet and greets to formal in-person interviews, give us the opportunity to truly get to know a potential hire and, in turn, affords each candidate the opportunity to learn about our organization, our culture and potentially their next leader,” said Mark Allen, Hajoca recruiter and McLawrence’s future general manager.
“It is always a pleasure to be on campus at SFA, but more specifically, with the faculty, staff and students in the College of Business,” Allen added. “Their commitment to connecting students with great organizations is second to none. It is my hope that Stephan is just the first of many more smart, driven and determined individuals to join our organization.”
Two weeks after he earns his master’s degree, McLawrence will report to Hajoca’s Fort Worth location. He’s hoping some friends and family members will attend SFA and maybe even join him at Hajoca one day.
“I am always trying to persuade my friends back home to pursue their degrees at SFA,” McLawrence said. “In addition, my next mission is to be able to sponsor both of my nieces, who wish to follow in my footsteps and earn their bachelor’s degrees through SFA’s Rusche College of Business.”
To learn more about the College of Business, visit sfasu.edu/cob.