January 13, 2022
From shadowing his parents to striking his path
“You know when you grow up and then you just know what you want to do?” Mahogany Masudi ‘22 asks with a note of humor, “That was not the case for me.”
Growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Masudi didn’t always know he’d someday become a business management and marketing double major. By comparison, his younger brother always knew what he wanted to do, setting a path towards accounting at a young age. But Masudi was different from his family in that way, describing them as math-savvy and driven towards numbers.
“For me, I liked languages and I could retain long paragraphs and was good at writing. So it was kind of hard for my family to guide me in a direction for what I wanted to do,” he said.
Despite the differing skill sets, Masudi cites his parents as his greatest role models. Specifically, Masudi would spend time with them as they worked. His father, for instance, owned and managed different properties (including a small grocery store, pharmacy and barbershop) and Masudi would be in the room with his father as he performed day-to-day managerial tasks.
“I didn’t even know I was shadowing him — it just felt like another day with dad.”
Meanwhile, Masudi was deeply impacted by his mother’s career trajectory.
“I watched my mother make a change from working at a company to starting her own consulting business,” he explained. “That’s what encouraged me and made me realize that I want to learn how to start and maintain a business. I wanted to be my own boss someday because I watched both of my parents do that.”
First years at St. Scholastica
“Growing up, I was fascinated by American pop culture,” Masudi recalls, “and my parents were very supportive of my interest in going to the U.S. or Canada for college.”
St. Scholastica was an early standout for Masudi, offering a business management major with attractive scholarships, a location in a similarly-sized city as his home and promoting values that resonated with him and his parents.
But, Masudi would encounter the first real hurdle as an international student abroad when he sought student employment.
“Back home, you don’t work until you finish school. But here, in America, I heard stories about people getting part-time jobs at sixteen.”
This meant that Masudi didn’t have a track record to demonstrate work ethic when applying to many of the student employment positions at St. Scholastica. Undeterred, he learned about employment at Storm’s Den from a friend.
“My roommate and I ran down to Storm’s and tried to find the manager. So we knocked on her door and asked about available opportunities. She didn’t ask for experience, “ Masudi said, “she just asked ‘When can you start?’”
Masudi remained at Storm’s into his sophomore year but he wanted more hours and more experience to grow his resume. He was then referred to the Burns Wellness Center, where he would work until the pandemic.
“I will always be grateful for those two positions,” he says. “They believed in me and helped me get the experience I needed to get where I wanted to be.”
Hard work paying off in the marketing department
In the fall of 2019, Masudi took Career Exploration with Breanne Tepler (whom he would eventually work with). Here, Masudi reconsidered his approach to student employment based on advice from Tepler’s class.
“I needed to find a job on campus that corresponded with what I wanted to learn,” he said.
Masudi soon discovered a web assistant position with the marketing department and applied.
“They were asking questions about things I didn’t know anything about, like coding,” Masudi said. “So I just tried to be as honest as I could, telling them what I could do and that I have always been willing to learn. I always put in the necessary amount of time to learn what interests me.”
Somewhat to his surprise, he was offered the position within a week. Working with the Executive Director of Marketing, Paul Connolly, and Web Specialist/Front-End Developer, Lori Luing, Masudi was on the career path that he’d been looking for.
“To me, it felt like my hard work was paying off,” he said.
Masudi continued with the marketing department through sophomore and junior year, most recently accepting the marketing internship position for the duration of his senior year.
Reflections and growth
Looking back on where he’s been and what he’s done since arriving at St. Scholastica, Masudi says that he has grown in several important areas.
“I was humbled,” he explains, “my mentors challenged me and made me want to learn more. They forced me out of my comfort zone.”
Being forced from his comfort zone was pivotal for Masudi, enabling him to become more adept at interpersonal skills that cannot easily be taught in a classroom setting.
“I built a lot of lasting relationships,” Masudi noted as he remarked on the importance of emotional intelligence in business, marketing and work in general.
Beyond opportunities for professional development, Masudi also found St. Scholastica offered outlets for social action. Masudi has been active in the Black Student Union and the International Club since freshman year and is currently the president of United for Africa.
“Being active in social justice is very important to me,” he says.
Advice for incoming students and future ambitions
Masudi has, in many ways, set the blueprint for students getting the absolute most from their college experience. Beyond the classroom, Masudi was driven to gain work experience, demonstrate his work ethic and discover ways of bettering himself that he maybe hadn’t even considered.
“Teachability,” Masudi states with conviction, “that’s the first thing I would tell someone who’s coming to St. Scholastica to have. Patience and dedication would be two more.”
Throughout his experience at St. Scholastica, Masudi has valued his out-of-class experience just as much as his in-class education. Now graduating in May, Masudi has several options he’s considering.
“I want to go to grad school, but only in the right way,” he says.
Wherever he ends up, the marketing department has been grateful for the opportunity to teach, work with and learn from Masudi.