During her time at JSC, Tia Drake 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 fellow Badgers 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.” As a senior, she was appointed executive director of the Vermont chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a leadership-development program for high school students.
“Before all these experiences, I was really shy,” she recalls. “But through FBLA and working at the bank, with Professor Black and others at JSC, and even tutoring, I learned what I was capable of.”
Today Tia works as a full-time marketing assistant at the Troy headquarters of Community National Bank — the bank where she completed her business internship as a junior. “It’s a great position,” she says. “I do a little of everything — social media, website writing and content creation, and coordinating events.”
She also runs her own alpaca business, T’s Hilltop Haven Farm, based at her grandparents’ farm in Newport Center, where she raises alpacas and sells products made from their fiber.
Tia credits JSC with allowing her to design her degree around her personal talents and interests. “Johnson gave me so many opportunities to try to new things and provided support in that. I don’t think a larger school would be as willing to take the time and help you make your own path,” she says. For example, she was able to earn psychology credits through her work in “Camelid Dynamics,” a cooperative, behavior-based approach to training and managing llamas and alpacas without restraint or force. That experience gave her the idea to explore the use of alpacas as therapy animals — one of the many ideas she has for the future.
Dr. Black, Tia’s professor and advisor at JSC, calls her one in a million. “I’ve given only five ‘A+’ grades in my 30-plus years of teaching, and the only one I’ve ever given to a business student went to Tia,” he says. “She’s an amazing young woman who’s going to go far.”