LCCC holds spring business symposium

LCCC holds spring business symposium

Luzerne County Community College students recently got real-world experience in putting together a business conference.

The College's Business Club organized and planned the 2024 Spring Business Symposium held recently at LCCC's Educational Conference Center. The symposium featured Susan Unvarsky, a retired executive leader in the finance industry, LCCC alum and LCCC Board of Trustees member; Laure Gorney, founder/owner of NEPA'rogi and LCCC alum; and George E. Shadie, SEP, CLU, president and co-founder of Supporting Autism and Families Everywhere and financial services professional for New York Life Securities.*

The Business Club held the symposium for the College's Business majors, campus community and the public. The Club holds the symposium every fall and spring semesters and has different speakers each time.

"When our business students graduate, they do so knowing they are well prepared to meet any challenge they may face," said LCCC President Thomas P. Leary. "When you enter the workforce, you will learn even the best laid plan can have something unexpected happen. When that happens, you will be prepared because of the education you received here. Our Business Symposium is a reminder of the excellent program we have here at LCCC and the type of students we produce from that program who are hard working professionals dedicated to the betterment of northeastern Pennsylvania."

Joseph Maffei, who will be graduating in May with a business degree and plans to study law at Penn State University, said the symposium helps the students get more hands-on experience.

"It connects us to the field we're going into," Maffei said. "Being able to work on the symposium helps us understand better what it would be like to do this in a real-world environment. It's so important for students to get that type of experience because it just helps us in our future careers."

Gary Mrozinski, LCCC chair of the Business & Computer Information Systems and professor of Business, said he's pleased with the work the students did.

"Last year we decided that this would be their event to run," he said. "We did that because we wanted to get them involved, teach them how to be leaders, and teach them about networking."

Throughout the symposium, the speakers told the students more about their lives, what they accomplished, and how they navigated the business world.

Unvarsky's journey to becoming a business leader started when she was growing up. As the oldest of five children, she assisted her parents in caring for her siblings after school, learning to use each of their strengths to help each other out.

She planned on getting an education, but her family couldn't afford to send her to school. She enrolled at LCCC in the mid-1980s because it was a college she could afford. Her chosen career goal at that time was to begin her studies in secretarial science.

However, her life changed after one of her high school teachers asked what she was going to do after graduating.

"She told me that I wasn't going to start as a secretary ... that I needed to go to school to be a leader," Unvarsky said. "That changed my future and my life. She picked up the phone, called Luzerne right then and there in the classroom, and had me talk to someone in admissions so I could switch my major."

Because of her teacher's encouragement, Unvarsky earned her associate degree in business administration from LCCC, bachelor's degree in business administration from King's College and a master's degree in banking and financial services management from Boston University. She had a successful 35-year career at Prudential where she served in several roles including Chief Operating Officer of Prudential's Total Retirement Solutions business.

During her career, Unvarsky told the group that she strived to always do more and to take on projects and assignments that others didn't want to, which helped her stand out. Because of her hard work and commitment, and her passion for learning strong leadership skills, she quickly moved up the ranks at Prudential.

"Don't let anyone (including yourself) set the bar too low. Raise that bar and raise it higher than you can ever think it can go," Unvarsky said. "Always strive to do more than anyone thinks you can do."

As she reflected on her career, Unvarsky thanked President Leary for his unwavering commitment to students like her.

When she attended LCCC, she worked full-time at a fast-food restaurant to cover additional costs her grant didn't. As a result, she had to take certain classes that would definitely transfer to King's instead of following a degree program precisely.

"I had to make sure I spent my money wisely on the courses I was taking," she said. "As a result, I didn't fulfill the required curriculum so I had to tell my mom I wouldn't be graduating and instead I was just transferring to King's."

Her mom then contacted Leary, who was at that time Dean of Students.

"My mom told him I was a first-generation college student and the first one from our family to graduate from college," Unvarsky said. "She spoke to President Leary about me and said she felt I should graduate from Luzerne. My mom persisted in her belief and advocated for me. President Leary listened and was also an advocate for me, which lead to me getting my degree. "I'll forever be grateful for my Mom, and for people like President Leary for believing in me."