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UHV business alumni return to give guidance to students

April 6, 2013 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated April 5, 2013 at 11:06 p.m.

Donald Jirkovsky, a University of Houston-Victoria alumnus and regional equipment supervisor for the Texas Department of Transportation, shares a story with students during a UHV leadership class March 28. Jirkovsky was one of 12 UHV business graduates to speak to classes during Alumni Week.

Every time Donald Jirkovsky learned a new concept in a University of Houston-Victoria business class, he attempted to apply it right away to his job with the Texas Department of Transportation.

During a presentation to Olga Chapa's UHV leadership class March 28, Jirkovsky told students that what they are learning today will come up in various job situations tomorrow.

"You may not see it right away, but these theories are applicable," he said. "That's why a UHV education is valuable."

Jirkovsky was one of a dozen UHV graduates who returned to the university to make presentations during the School of Business Administration's Alumni Week March 25 to 28 in Victoria, Sugar Land and Katy.

This marked the second time the school made a collective effort to bring back alumni at the same time to share their stories and give advice to current students.

"We are grateful to have so many successful alumni take the time to come back to campus to share their experiences with our students," said Farhang Niroomand, dean of the School of Business Administration. "I think the students benefited considerably hearing from business leaders who were in their shoes at one time."

Jirkovsky, a UHV alumnus who is a regional equipment supervisor for the state transportation department, said the department recently has gone through a great deal of leadership change. He explained to the class how the changes impacted operations. He also talked about how the department used to spend little on technology so that more resources could be put into roads.

"We had a new information technology leader from outside the department come in and tell us about how companies were investing in technology," Jirkovsky said. "The savings gained from being more efficient could then be spent on roads. The new management and leadership team had a different paradigm than the prior leaders."

Jirkovsky also shared his own educational journey, taking a class or two at a time before graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Business Administration from UHV.

"By the time I received my education, I could see right away how the concepts and theories came into play," Jirkovsky said. "Now, I want to share what I learned to help others succeed. I welcomed the chance to share my story and let students know that what they are studying is applicable to real-world scenarios."

Chapa, a UHV assistant professor of management, said Alumni Week helps the students connect what they are being taught with real-life work outcomes.

"Mr. Jirkovsky showed the students the end product of what UHV School of Business Administration has helped produce," she said. "He did an outstanding job leaving my students anxious to apply what they are learning in a future work setting."

While not accustomed to public speaking, Valerie Gilliam, a UHV alumna and director of business development and economic analysis for Country Watch, could not refuse an invitation to return to the university.

Gilliam obtained her Global Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance in 2012 from UHV. Country Watch is a Houston-based information provider for corporations, government agencies, schools and individuals needing up-to-date news and information on recognized countries of the world.

During her classroom visit, Gilliam provided tips on what to do and what not to do when starting a career. She also talked about the importance of specialization.

"When you're getting an MBA, it's possible to move in a thousand directions," she said. "I told the students to learn everything they can about a couple of things and become experts in those areas. If managers know you are a professional expert in a certain area, they will come to you."

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