Senior Carson Sweezy self-designed his major, The Cross Disciplinary Studies of Media & Communications Theory and Practices, in order to study relationships and communication. How do his academic studies intersect with entrepreneurship, innovation, and business?
Real Estate, Entrepreneurship, and William & Mary
I have my real estate license in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. and have worked for three startups in the real estate industry. After being featured for unique social media marketing on Snapchat and Tinder in 2015, I spoke at Inman Connect, one of the largest residential real estate conferences in the world. In 2016, I launched the GrindDaily podcast where I interview youthful creative innovators (entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, writers, chefs). I’m an Executive at the Kairos Society, a global venture fund and fellowship investing in the brightest young innovators who are solving the world’ biggest problems by rethinking broken industries. In August 2017, I founded Crave, a food delivery start-up for William & Mary students, by William & Mary students. Its mission is to enrich the College’s food ecosystem by creating a community-driven approach to food access.
My greatest passion is people. Relationships mean everything to me and human connection is essential to my everyday life. Being with people, meeting new people, connecting people, having deep connection with people, sharing creations like food with people it all empowers me. Beyond that, cooking is my release. I’ve been cooking since I was four. It gives me an artistic outlet to share with others.
When I decided to put my real estate career on hold to finish school, I thought to myself “which college would allow the most dynamic learning environment for what I call my personal development retreat”? William & Mary, with its welcoming, open, and diverse community, packed with amazing people and resources was that place! I felt this sense of community every step of the way. From visiting the campus, to communicating with admissions, faculty, students, and alumni, the environment stood out as having everything I value.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities
I self-designed my major and “hack” my way through college, deriving a specific value from each class. While a handful of the courses within my major are in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, my self-designed major (The Cross Disciplinary Studies of Media & Communications Theory and Practices) is not exclusive to the Business School. Initially pitched as a “Sales Degree,” my first attempt at self-designing a major was rejected. I went back to the drawing board with the inspiration of Professor Devgan of the Sociology department. I realized my real interest was in how we communicate with each other and how the medium that we choose affects that communication. William & Mary, through its liberal arts approach, has helped highlight the value of honest and true meaning in everyday relationships. It’s given me many lenses with which to see the world. Through Anthropology, Film & Media Studies, Sociology, Linguistics, Negotiations, Marketing, Design Thinking, Writing, American Studies, Journalism, and Speech classes I can study under amazing professors and gain new ways of thinking about how we communicate. In this sense, my education is based in the humanities. The courses that teach business “practices” become playgrounds for me to experiment with the thoughts, structures, theories, and phenomena I learned in the other courses.
Dean Dahnke and Susan Grainger have been tremendously supportive in my education. Through enrollment in business classes, I’m able to enter a class with my own set of questions that I want to understand further. I take the professor’s structure, understanding, and presentation of problems, borrow that lens, and use it to tackle my inherent interests. This system has proven to be the most enlightening experience of my education, strengthening both my professional and academic interests.
Connecting with Campus and the Business School
On campus, I love engaging with students of all majors. This is the most involved campus I have ever been a part of and with so many bright young minds there are endless possibilities for engagement, networking, and friendship. In the Spring of 2017, we hosted “Showing Up Naked” a community event where students shared raw personal narratives in front of strangers. Round two of “Showing Up Naked” occurred in November of 2017.
The Students of Hip-Hop Legacy is the club I’m most proud to be a part of. No one joins the club for a resume boost. Its sole purpose is community. The club is super laid back and we mostly gather to talk about hip-hop, culture, and make music and the club puts on amazing concerts and partners with organizations like Rocket magazine to put on events like the ASTRAL Fashion Show.
Within the Business School, I’m heavily involved in the Entrepreneurship Center and love finding ways to help it grow. In some schools, entrepreneurship is pushed to the side, but at William & Mary it is the rising star. In addition, I’ve worked on projects for the newly-formed student-run marketing firm, Agency 1693. With my marketing and sales expertise, I will provide expertise through tangible, real-world projects.
So far, Professor Henshaw’s Entrepreneurial Ventures class has had the biggest impact on my Business School experience. Along that line, the Miller Entrepreneurship Center has been the most engaging and interactive experience that I participate in at the Business School. It’s not a club, but more like a group of friends getting together to work on projects together. The community environment is swarming with ideas, banter, and resources.
In the future, I’ll continue to meet amazing people, ask questions, and solve problems. In five years, I see myself enjoying the wonderful adult relationships I have built over the last five or six years. I’m beyond excited to see where my friends will go, the amazing things they will do, the experiences they will be a part of, and the problems they will solve. In ten years I expect to see these same friends running the world. I plan to do what I can to help them however possible while personally pursuing problems to solve.