Faces of UMSI: Stephanie Kerner

Junior Stephanie Kerner is spending her winter semester in Florence, Italy, attending the Cultural Experience Abroad (CEA) Center to study topics such as The Business of Food. The intersection of food and technology, she explains, is crucial as concern for genetically modified foods increases without proper marketing and consumer education.

“Technology is so important in food these days,” Stephanie says. “Which is not something you think about because it’s so new. I’m excited to learn about the analytics and to break down the processes of why we’re using technology with our food.”

Stephanie, who hails from New Jersey, speaks enthusiastically about another class she is taking, Social Persuasion, a class that will allow her to understand technology through a different perspective. 

“Everything I learn in Florence will give me a different way of thinking because it’s a European education model,” Stephanie says. “I will bring that back here next fall and use what l learn there about the way they approach their media, how they market themselves on social media, and what interfaces they use.”

Stephanie’s energy is magnetic, and it’s palpable when she talks about her community and philanthropic involvements.  Starting from the winter semester of her sophomore year through the fall semester of her junior year, Stephanie was president of her sorority, Chi Omega. Her role included planning sisterhood and philanthropy events, maintaining relationships with the directors of Greek life, and serving as the face of Chi O to national and Panhellenic organizations.

She also acts as a sounding board for all 250 members of the sorority, providing constant support in-person as well as through phone calls, text messages, and Facebook messages. 

“This was a very exciting experience for me because I care about helping to better our organization,” Stephanie said. “I try to connect as much as I can with each of the 250 women because when they graduate, I want them to lead their lives with their best foot forward.”

Chi Omega has been recognized in recent years as having the highest all-sorority GPA, winning the national award for highest all-sorority GPA in the Great Lakes region.

“It’s been an incredible experience to lead these women into their future and to always try and better ourselves, to always be accountable for ourselves,” Stephanie said. “I definitely pride myself in my academics, and it’s exciting to be surrounded by women who do the same.”

Stephanie is also active in Dance Marathon (DMUM), an annual 24-hour event that raises money for pediatric rehabilitation programs at C.S. Mott and William Beaumont Children’s Hospitals. She started out freshman year as a dance captain of her Chi O freshman team. Her sophomore year, Stephanie joined the Steering Committee as part of the Event Partnership sub-committee, helping organize a silent auction during DMUM’s annual gala and coordinating food for the entire 24-hour event.

“Our fundraising helps provide therapy for kids with disabilities, and it’s unbelievably rewarding to watch the kids come with their families,” Stephanie says of the largest student non-profit organization in Michigan. “A lot of the kids will come to the marathon, returning families and new families, and by the end everyone’s crying of happiness, so proud of what the organization has accomplished throughout the year– it’s an inspiring experience.”

As a junior, Stephanie joined the DMUM Corporate Foundation Relations committee, helping get sponsors involved, organizing donations, and submitting corporate grants in preparation for the event. “It’s exciting to have the sponsors come to the marathon and see what their donations are going towards,” Stephanie says.

Stephanie declared her BSI concentration in the fall of her junior year, planning to specialize in both User Experience Design and Data Analytics. She explains that she is intrigued by the human side of technology, as well as the study of processes.  

“I am genuinely enjoying all of my classes this semester,” Stephanie says. “They’re challenging, but I love what I’m studying, and I can feel my brain stretching more so than I did the past few years. I genuinely enjoy sitting in the SI classes because I feel like I’m learning so much and it’s all so interesting.”

Following her semester in Florence, Stephanie will be interning in the operations design sector of Goldman Sachs in New York as an Operations Summer Analyst. Not only is she excited about the prospect of being a woman in this innovative environment, but she is also excited about bringing her strengths to this job. 

“Most of my prior work experiences have been in the back-end, looking at how to make the organizations that I’m a part of run, which has a lot to do with SI processes,” Stephanie says. “I really enjoy helping to make things run and being behind the scenes to help situations, processes, organizations and events. And I get to do what I love, which is awesome.”