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Campus Celeb: Dr. Carolyn Massiah

I must say I was humbled and honored when Dr. Massiah, a professor who has taught over 28,000 students in the last 10 years, agreed to have this interview with me. Getting to sit with Dr. Massiah for an hour at her office and discuss her life, family, and career was enlightening and it allowed me to see her in a way I would not have otherwise. This strong and successful African- American woman has inspired me and countless other UCF students on a weekly basis. She has taught a lecture-capture class called Principles of Marketing course for many years. I hope you gain a piece of what she has given to those who have taken her course.

“That’s a role I take seriously. That I’m not just there to shove marketing down your throat.”

– Dr. Massiah in reference to taking an entire class period to answer students’ career and education-related questions instead of lecturing.

Name: Dr. Carolyn Massiah

Course: The Principles of Marketing

Hometown: Bridgeville, Delaware

Fun fact: “I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 16.”

Favorite Quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Her Campus UCF (HCUCF): How did you become interested in marketing?

Carolyn Massiah (CM): “I had gone through several majors… Tried to find my way. I had a student job on campus. I was at the University of Delaware and we had guest conference housing. They asked me to make up the directory that goes in the rooms. I was like, ‘well…okay.’ I have no experience in this, but okay. While I was doing it, I wondered if there a career around doing this. What is it called? And one day during a meeting they said, ‘And thank you to Carolyn for her marketing efforts.’ And I said ‘that’s what I was doing. It was marketing. That’s what I want to do.’… Ever since then, I haven’t looked back.”

HCUCF: What brought you to UCF in the summer of 2005?

CM: “When I came out of my Ph.D. plan after I was looking for schools, two things were important to me.

1) That the school had a diverse student population. Being a minority, I managed to go through all three of my degrees without ever having a minority professor. And I think it’s important for students to be able to see. And it’s also nice to be able to see a diverse student body when you are teaching.

2) The percentage of students here who are first generation students. I was a first generation college student and really had nowhere to turn to say ‘Is this what I should be doing?’ And I wanted to be in a place where I could help and influence first generation students.”

*Check out the LEGACY Leadership and Mentoring Program where Professor Massiah and other faculty members are able to directly impact ethnic minority students through mentorship.

HCUCF: What is the most rewarding feeling about being a professor?

CM: “The most rewarding thing is when a student comes up to me, even a year or two years later and says ‘Thank you. I felt like you cared.’ And with the number of students that I have, I am very blessed to have these kind of interactions on a weekly basis.”

HCUCF: What is your favorite aspect of UCF?

CM: “You know it’s funny. We say UCF stands for opportunity, but that really is my favorite…There is something for someone everywhere. One day I was walking over to Career Services and these people were out playing Quidditch on the lawn. And I’m like ‘Well there you go. There is something for everyone.’ Which is always so funny to me that I have students who complain about [having to attend two outside activities for my course]. I’m like, ‘Holy cow. You can trip over something to do everywhere you walk on campus.’ Like how do you not find something to do on this campus… You can roll out of bed and hit an opportunity.”

HCUCF: How would you say having professional connections with organizations like Delta Sigma Pi and Beta Gamma Sigma (as a member) has impacted your career?

CM: “I always truly believe in the power of networking. Where you start to begin your professional network is in your undergraduate years. So being involved in a professional fraternity, for me Delta Sigma Pi really truly began the start of my professional career. My first internship and full-time job both came from the person who was interviewing me, actually a Delta Sigma Pi brother. I had never met them before. I wore my little gold DSP pin to my interview and they realized that is what it was. And then before you know it, the interview was about DSP… So being involved with Delta Sigma Pi helped start my network because I was linked with Deltasig on LinkedIn. And literally every city I go to, I can find a DSP brother.”

“It is never about who you know. It is about who knows you.” – Dr. Massiah

HCUCF: Tell me more about your time as a combat medic at Delaware Army National Guard.

CM: “I joined the army when I was 17. Did boot camp at the age 17. By the time I was 18, I was in the Gulf War. You know it’s interesting when you have different experiences to look back on. You feel like someone else lived that part of your life. That was definitely a different me than Dr. Massiah or Sergeant or Specialist Thomas. I wasn’t even married then. But I wouldn’t give that experience up… Less than two percent of our population serves in the military, though we all enjoy such amazing freedoms that we don’t even think about… We have such amazing freedoms, but freedom isn’t free. So I’m very grateful for the time I served.”

“Freedom isn’t free.” –  Attributed to U.S. Air Force Colonel Walter Hitchcock

HCUCF: What’s your favorite hobby?

CM: “I have two. I love to read. I pretty much read anything. Hopefully I am going to do a lot of reading while I am on my break. And I love to travel. I’ve been to six of the eight continents. I haven’t been to Antarctica.”

HCUCF: What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

CM: “The business professor in me should say LinkedIn. The correct answer is LinkedIn. *We laugh* But the personal answer to that question is Facebook. You can just find out about what’s going on in everyone’s life. I swear I spend way too much time on Facebook. You always say, “I’m just going to look at the first few posts and next thing you know you have scrolled down a whole day. And I’m like “OK. I’m caught up. That was the last one I saw.”

HCUCF: What would you say was the most important day of your life?

CM: “The day I married my husband, Andrew. June 15, 1995. We just celebrated 20 years. It was the beginning of a wonderful partnership. He has been my biggest cheerleader.”

Footprints in the Sand – Poem Dr. Massiah referenced while reflecting on her 20-year marriage to Andrew Massiah.

“When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” – Mary Stevenson

HCUCF: If you could sum up your college years in a few words, what would those words be?

CM: “Two came to mind. “Too long”. It took me 7 years to complete my undergrad. Once I figured out my major, it only took me 2 and a half years to complete my degree. I always tell people I did not fall off the tree. I went to college thinking I was the smartest person because I was no. 2 in my high school class. And I got there and realized I didn’t know how to study. I was in chemical engineering. I had a GPA that you could multiply by four and barely get four. I went to school on a full scholarship and then some, and lost it all within a year. I was on academic probation. I was about to be kicked out of school. I had to get up in front of an appeal board to beg and plead and throw myself at their mercy. And I got another chance. Then I wandered aimlessly from major to major because I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do. But once I declared marketing and travel and tourism as my major, I graduated in two years. I declared Fall ’96 and graduated Fall of ’98.  I managed to graduate with a 3.6 GPA.”

HCUCF: What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were my age (21)?

CM: “I wish I knew then that this is the point in life where you take all of the risks possible. You are at the best point in your life to take risks. Take on challenges. Travel abroad. Absolutely travel abroad.”

HCUCF: What advice do you have for students looking to enter the marketing field?

CM: Network. Early and often. Marketing is such a social field to be in. The quicker and earlier you become adept at interacting with others you just met [the better].”

“Brand You” – The first thing that Dr. Massiah discussed on Day 1 of our Principles of Marketing course this semester. It is a phrase she continued to repeat to us throughout the course. What she means by it is to develop your brand and reputation.

HCUCF: What piece of wisdom do you have for UCF students?

CM: “Take advantage of every opportunity. Nowhere else in your life will this many opportunities be at your feet. All you have to do is bend over and pick it up.

HCUCF: What’s the next step for you in 2016?

CM: “The biggest thing will be sending my older son, Alex, off to college. His number one choice is Florida State. He wants to study business.”

While reading this interview, I hope you were able to see the compassion Dr. Massiah has for the students who enroll in her course. Not many professors possess a trait like that. If you gain one thing, make it that. Take Professor Massiah’s course if you have the chance to. You won’t regret it. Catch her next during Summer B 2016 when she returns from her break to continue the legacy that is her Principles of Marketing course.

“I want someone when they leave my class, to say they learned more than marketing. They learned a little bit more about themselves.” – Dr. Massiah

Michelle is a UCF junior interdisciplinary studies major and marketing minor who loves Youtube, primetime tv shows, and her dog Pepper. Being that she is a new Knight, she loves all thing UCF, especially if her bae Knightro is involved. In her spare time, you can find Michelle hanging out with friends, binge-watching her favorite Youtubers, or jamming to BillBoard Top 100. If you are at a lost for words when talking to Michelle, bring up her celeb crush Tom Hiddleston and you will be set for life. She really loves that man. Follow her on Twitter for insight on UCF and everything else bouncing around in her brain! 
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