Student Spotlight: Shamsa Visone

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What brought you to NC State?

New York used to be my heart and soul until I came to NC State and learned about the SOUL Garden! Before coming to Raleigh, my husband and I did a stint in San Diego, CA for a couple years. Then we sold all our belongings in San Diego, and drove across the country to live in Raleigh to be in the same time zone as our families. In San Diego we were able to live, work, and play downtown. Raleigh has provided us with all these conveniences and warm summer nights. This east coast/west coast experience has had a tremendous influence in my pursuit of an interdisciplinary education.

What is your academic and/or professional background?

 I have an undergraduate in Finance & Accounting from Baruch College in New York City. When I was still in school, a wonderful Business Manager at Random House took a chance on me and hired me in his business department. In that capacity, not only did I learn finance and accounting skills, I was surrounded by books. Due to my business background, I read many business books.  However, I enjoyed literary fiction and biographies as well. At the time, the book that intrigued my interest in interdisciplinary education was Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt. Then when I was in San Diego, I got involved with the US Green Building Council and worked with companies and the county to implement sustainable business practices at the local level. When we were getting ready to move out of San Diego, we knew we wanted to live where we could get involved in our neighborhood. In the last five years, I have received a tremendous amount of support and opportunities by getting involved with the Hillsborough Citizens Advisory Council and at NC State. I also enjoy being a Personal Fitness Trainer and am now working on my Health Coach Certification.  All this allows me to pursue my passion for coaching students.

Why did you decide to apply to the MALS program? How do you feel MALS is a good fit for you?

 The MALS program tagline is Design Your Degree: Pursue Your Passions. That is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted a degree that was going to complement my business background and allow me to purse my passion – mentoring young leaders. Through the MALS program, I have experienced intellectually stimulating work that has challenged my writing and my critical thinking through a variety of mediums, approaches, and audiences. This program has also allowed me to work full-time, take two classes per semester and coach students.

When/Why did you become interested in your area of study/research? How will be applying interdisciplinarity in your academic and professional work?

I became interested in pursuing my passion for mentoring students in Dr. Mari’s class. In his class, we read a book called Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why by Dr. Scott Weems. Scott Weems is a neuroscientist who investigates into the science of humor and laughter. The central theme in the book is that humor and laughter are by-products of the more complex workings of our brain. For my final paper in the class, I interviewed participants at an improv comedy club. One participant said, “Successful comedians must have the ability to engage various types of audiences, observe the world differently and find less obvious connections between ideas, adapt to new or changing situations seamlessly, and overcome failure.” From this experience, I was able to narrow my focus for my research in student development.  I learned that if we can identify key “soft skills” that comedians use on a daily basis, we could reapply them toward achieving success in the workplace. Soft skills are those intangible yet important attributes such as leadership, creativity and teamwork.  With help from an NC State alumna Christina McChesney, I created a rigorous, interdisciplinary three-month internship program where I position students for post-college success.  Think and Do is at the heart of my program. My mission is to empower students with the confidence and assurance to transform knowledge into action and dreams into reality as future leaders of our global society. Today’s competitive environment demands that college students hit the ground running with strong critical thinking abilities, leadership skills, and project management competence that will shape the way they conduct themselves on the job and in the community.  Through my mentorship, each student in the Young Adult Leadership Project develops vital leadership, communication and project management skills while engaging in local community development.  I also manage 16 interns at the SOUL Garden and have implemented the mentorship aspects of this program in managing interns at the garden, which resulted in the Deborah S. Moore Outstanding Student Organization award in April.

How will MALS enhance your professional experience?

I would like to continue to research student development approaches from a multidisciplinary perspective here at NC State. In addition, with help from my advisor, Dr. Patterson, and other members of the NC State community, my hope is to refine the Young Adult Leadership Project.  Engaging students and helping students to develop knowledge, insights, problem solving skills, self-confidence, self-efficacy, and a passion for learning are my passion.