COBE Fellows ready for business

Department of Marketing Chair James Lollar spoke with the inaugural COBE Fellows class during the program’s orientation.

Radford University’s College of Business and Economics (COBE) has introduced a new program this fall that will push its students “to a higher level of achievement and learning,” said the college’s dean, George Low.

The COBE Fellows program is a cohort of 15 business students who have an opportunity to work with a select group of Radford University faculty to develop a unique perspective of the global business environment and gain cross-cultural competencies to enhance their university experiences and careers.

“What a privilege for you to be in the first class of COBE Fellows,” Low said as he and other COBE administrators and faculty welcomed the freshmen students to the orientation and luncheon on Aug. 27 in Kyle Hall. Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill had lunch and spoke with each of the students at the gathering.

“You will be trailblazers,” Low continued. “As COBE Fellows, you will become known in the college and on the university campus, and that is going to have advantages. It will help challenge you; it will help remind you of how important your example is to the rest of the campus and to this college. Other students will be watching you and looking to you for advice and persistence and leadership.”

Management Associate Professor Tal Zarankin and MBA Director Stacey Turmel will serve as co-directors of the program. Low and Economics Assistant Professor Dan Farhat are teaching the inaugural COBE Fellows classes this fall.

The four-year program includes selected courses with other COBE Fellows, faculty-student mentoring, networking with global business executives, job-shadowing opportunities and internships. Fellows have opportunities for immersion learning excursions during and between semesters, and short-term or semester-long study abroad programs. COBE Fellows will be encouraged to apply for RU Foundation scholarships.

Sienna Kellum said she chose to apply for COBE Fellows because “it seemed like a program that would put you ahead, particularly with the internships and shadowing, the one-on-one mentoring with faculty and working with people who have been in this line of work.” Kellum, a management major from Crozet, said “I feel like this will put me on the right track and get me there.”

John Brocklebank plans to major in marketing and applied for COBE Fellows “to get a step ahead,” the Charlotte, N.C. native said. “I wanted to be involved with other people who have the same interests and goals as me. That’s what this program gives me.”


Andrew Crapo is planning to major in finance and picked Radford University specifically for the COBE Fellows program. “It will give us experience that no other program will give us,” said Crapo of Ashburn.

Mauricio Rosales also chose Radford University because of the fellows program. “I decided really early that business is what I love, and I have a real passion for it,” said Rosales, whose family moved to the United States from Bolivia when he was 3 years old. “I think if you’re going to do something, you should do it in the best way possible, and I really think this program is an opportunity to do it in the best way possible.”

For the first two years, participating students will be enrolled in pre-business courses.

“They will enroll in general university courses plus economics, statistics, calculus and accounting,” Low said. “Students will declare a business major after their sophomore year and move into finance, accounting, economics, marketing or management.”

The fellows program is more than a classroom experience. It includes professional development activities, such as interacting with the college’s executives-in-residence and trips to Washington, D.C. and New York City to interact with business professionals. When students reach the spring semester of their junior year, “they will be strongly encouraged to study a full semester abroad” at an institution with similar academic tracks as COBE, Low said.

Karissa Tobin of Forest plans to study management, marketing and “something in art,” she said. Tobin also aspires to be a welder, and someday, operate her own welding business. “The COBE Fellows program has what I want to do,” she said.

Low said the program’s professional development enhancements and experiences “will equip students to be more prepared for business internships and careers. Employers are looking for the best students, and the COBE Fellows program will identify the best students and then challenge them by giving them advanced tools that will help them be successful following graduation.”

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be incoming pre-business freshmen and meet at least two of the following qualifications: achieve at least a 1,100 SAT or 24 ACT; have a 3.5 or higher high school GPA; and be in the top 20 percent of their graduating class.

“Everybody in each cohort is going to be good academically, so the faculty can push them harder, further and go deeper into an advanced level of business discussions,” Low said. “Everyone will benefit from this competitive program.”

Sarah Kelleher is double majoring in business and dance. The Upton, Massachusetts native said she sees the group growing together quickly. “There are only 15 of us, and I feel like we’re going to be a family after four years,” she said.

To learn more about the COBE Fellows program, visit

Sep 1, 2016
Chad Osborne