Business students share travel adventures with study abroad donor

Business students share travel adventures with study abroad donor

Business student Randy Grosser with scholarship donor Patti Finnegan.

Over winter break, 26 Oakland University business students traveled to Europe for a front row seat to the global marketplace. They shared their experiences, adventures and appreciation for the opportunity with Patti Finnegan Sharf, whose Study Abroad Scholarship helped offset the expense of the trip for several of them.

“It was an eye-opening, horizon-broadening experience,” says Joy Jiang, Ph.D., who led the group along with Jennifer Cordon Thor, J.D. Under the guidance of these global business experts, students from two business classes visited Dublin, Ireland, and Budapest, Hungary, over the course of 10 days.


Students left to right: James Cook, Jessica Waldenmeyeer, Randall Broadwell, and Phillip Johnson, all received Finnegan scholarship which helped them to travel to Dublin and Budapest Winter 2016 with SBA International Management classes led by Professors Jennifer Cordon Thor and Joy Jiang. In the center is scholarship donor Patti Finnegan.

“This trip really did two things for me as a student. The first was to break down the preconceived notions that we had of foreign countries by really immersing ourselves in the culture, and understanding their social and economic histories,” says Phillip Johnson, FIN ‘16. “The second was to help build my relationships with my classmates, and create a bond that I will remember for the rest of my life.”


“The trip increased my appreciation and respect for other cultures,” says Dave Bork ECN ‘16. “It helped me appreciate the human experience from new perspectives, and showed me how we are all connected. Different and the same.”


Fostering this appreciation and understanding across cultures is one of the many reasons Finnegan Sharf created the scholarship to support international travel for Oakland University students.


“I am delighted to have been a part of an experience that will be with these students for the rest of their lives,” she says.


At a post-trip dinner with Finnegan Sharf, the students told of how Dublin business professionals from the U.S. Embassy, Dell and Teeling Whiskey Distillery welcomed them, and shared business and cultural insights.



Slots for next year’s trip are filling up. Register now to expand your horizons next winter.

MGT 350 (CRN: 10211) led by Professor Cordon Thor and ORG 330 (CRN: 12092) led by Professor Mihaela Dimitrova will be visiting Amsterdam, Netherlands and Lisbon, Portugal.

Contact Professor Cordon Thor ( or Professor Dimitrova ( if you are interested.

Budapest offered astounding architecture around every corner. Students also met with Ogilvy & Mather; toured Audi; and visited the world-famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. The trip concluded with an emotional and breathtaking dinner cruise along the Danube River.


“We got the best of both worlds: traditional local experiences and tourist attractions, with plenty of personal time for exploration,” says Tori Latcha, MKT ‘16.


“This course was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I owe it to the university, our professors and the donors who made it all possible,” says Johnson.

In addition to learning about global business operations, the group put their leadership, communication and problem-solving skills into practice.


“In times of chaos, we had a unique team of scholars to lean on; we encouraged each other when needed,” says James Cook, HRM ‘16. “We learned to enhance our communication skills through strong group dynamics, and in the end made life-long friends.”


“I would encourage anyone interested in study abroad to absolutely do it,” says Randy Broadwell, MIS ‘17. “There are scholarships available to help with the cost, and you will make friends and memories that will last a lifetime.”