Tia Drake, a Johnson State College senior from Newport Center, has been appointed executive director of the Vermont chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).
A business major and psychology minor at Johnson State, Drake plans to graduate in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree. With her careful planning, internship credits and the close guidance of faculty, she will graduate in three years. She already has an associate’s degree in business management from JSC.
During her time at JSC, Drake has worked as a research assistant for Professor James Black in the Business & Economics Department; interned in the marketing department at Community National Bank; and, as a work-study student, tutored students through Academic Support Services. She also developed a website and helped organize Vermont Entrepreneurship Week in February 2014, when she was recognized as one of four Amazing Young Vermont Entrepreneurs.
“Before these experiences, I was a very shy. Through FBLA and working at the bank, with Professor Black and others at JSC, and even tutoring, I learned what I was capable of and developed more leadership skills,” she said. “I hadn’t even considered being a tutor before I did that, and now I’m the director of a state chapter of a national organization.”
Drake has been involved with FBLA since she was a student at North Country Union High School and North Country Career Center in Newport; she served as a state officer in 2011-2012. A nonprofit organization of students preparing for careers in business and business-related fields, FBLA has chapters at 10 high schools in Vermont.
Among her duties as executive director of the Vermont FBLA, Drake oversaw and coordinated the chapter’s 2014 Fall Leadership Conference on Sept. 26, which drew more than 120 Vermont high school students to the Montpelier State House, and she’ll coordinate another conference in the spring.
During her tenure as the organization’s main point person in Vermont, Drake plans to make FBLA more prominent in the state and to develop a Vermont FBLA division for college students called Phi Beta Lambda (PBL). In addition, with the help of Vermont FBLA-PBL students and advisers, she plans to develop the professional division so that more adults in Vermont can mentor and guide students in the organization.
Drake came to JSC with business in her blood. She grew up on her grandparents’ Collins Farm, which includes a maple sugarbush; her grandparents also ran a John Deere business and an excavation business when she was younger, and her uncle owns his own excavation business and fish hatchery on a farm that’s been in the family for eight generations. Drake has been involved in all of these ventures.
She is the first person in her family to pursue a college degree. After graduating from Johnson State, she plans to pursue an M.B.A. through the college’s “4+1” articulation agreement with Clarkson University, then return to Vermont to open her own business, perhaps involving the alpacas she raises on her grandparents’ farm.