Renée Slepian is part of the superb staff team that supports the Department of Economics. As senior staff assistant, Renée provides direct support to the Department Chair, leadership to administrative staff, and operational oversight. You can find her on the fourth floor ensuring that everything is running smoothly, taking care of many of the administrative requirements for the faculty, students, and department in general!
What was your undergraduate major, and why did you choose it?
RS: Ultimately, Speech Communications from Syracuse University with advertising as my concentration from The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. But the route leading to that destination wasn’t entirely straightforward. Initially, I had set out to study Advertising, Marketing, and Psychology. But I have to say, the very first time I stepped onto campus as a bona fide student, crossing paths with thousands of other undergrads, (and wondering if they felt every bit as clueless as I felt) really was like stepping into the twilight zone. It was almost surreal. Everything was new and nothing was familiar. The buildings, the dorms, the dining halls, and the overall expanse of the campus (which in geographic size alone could easily blanket more than 12 city blocks) seemed larger than life. And to think that for the next four years, this would be my life! As I looked around and settled into my new surroundings, I started to see college as this vast ocean filled with infinite possibilities. The freedom to explore and exert my newfound independence seemed like an appealing premise, but, at the same time, it was also a mystifying proposition. How would I know which academic opportunities would make sense for me to pursue? What even were all of the options? The “home away from home” welcome kit they handed out was a nice touch and I’m sure that I put the complimentary candy bar and assorted toiletries to good use, but what I really needed was a compass to give me some direction so that I might navigate these waters more purposefully. Maybe I had missed the typewritten memo, (Yes. This was before the age of email and instant messaging), but I just don’t remember there being academic advisors to turn to for guidance. No special curriculum or “pathway” courses (that I was aware of) to steer me toward a solid strategy. So, I started out on the Liberal Arts track which allowed me to sample a variety of subjects. And, that I did! Between my preferred courses and the required courses, the subjects I studied freshman year were all over the map, ranging from Linguistics, Logic, and Geology to Computer Math and Psychology. It wasn’t until my sophomore year, when I landed on “Speech Communications” that I finally found my footing. And, by choosing a concentration, I was able to further pursue my interest in advertising, too.
Growing up, I did not shy away from speaking in front of people. I would always want to add a touch of creativity to class presentations, speeches I made at formal family events, and instruction that I delivered (one summer when I was home from college, I taught several self-improvement courses including one in public speaking, as part of the personal and professional development program at a local modeling school).
One of my favorite childhood activities was to come up with ad slogans and product ideas, script mock commercials and then act them out in front of my parents and any other willing family members. When I was in high school, my Dad, who was the President of Petroleum Sales & Service, the family-owned business and distributor of fine petroleum products, let me work on a project that involved creating the catchphrase for an ad campaign that was going to be used to promote the company’s Petro brand of gasoline, which was sold at more than 100 gas stations throughout Western New York. I could barely contain my excitement, especially when the new “Pep up with Petro” campaign debuted throughout the region. And, Yes. I’ll admit I still find it fun to concoct taglines. Gotta keep those creative juices flowing! And, it doubles as a great stress reliever, too.
What is your favorite little-known fact about the Department of Economics?
RS: We have a very special department mascot named “Francis.” Francis is a beautiful red-tail hawk, who perches himself right outside our main office window. For years he has been returning to the same spot. We are very fond of Francis and the feeling must be mutual because he will often stay on the sill (and keep us company) for 30 minutes or more at a time!
What is your top piece of advice for students in the economics major?
RS: My two cents worth: Not just for ECO students, but all students:
TAKE THE TIME TO…
· Familiarize yourself with the resources available to you at UB. The Student Success Gateway website, for example, provides an array of invaluable services aimed at helping students to manage personal, financial, and academic matters at any stage of their college career. Check it out: https://www.buffalo.edu/studentsuccess/resources.html.
· Proofread your work. Check for typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and formatting inconsistencies.
· Attend office hours. Even if only to make yourself known to your professors and TAs.
· Hand-write notes of appreciation. In the digital age in which we live, transmitting notes electronically is no doubt, the method most commonly used to say thank you. This is an accepted practice and certainly more instantaneous, but there’s still something to be said for having sent a note that you didn’t dictate with SIRI.
· Complete your general application in the UB Scholarship Portal at https://buffalo.academicworks.com/ and you will automatically receive emails about scholarship and award opportunities for which you may be eligible – several of which are offered by the Dept. of Economics.
· Soak it all in! Your college journey is one of great significance and will be a chapter in your life that you will always remember. Whether you are attending classes in person or virtually, make the most of each moment and every opportunity. And, don’t be afraid to reach out to academic advising or contact Student Support Services if you think you could use a little direction.