News Story

Dennis Lusiana '12 Shared with Students How She Became a Marketing Expert - Without Ever Studying Marketing

Dennis Lusiana at Cool Connections Hot Alumni Event

Dennis Lusiana '12 let her involvement on Binghamton University's campus lead her to what she loves most: helping students.

"Take your major and turn it into everything you want," Lusiana said. "Make sure you have passion to go along with it."

Lusiana '12 was welcomed back to campus for a Cool Connections / Hot Alumni talk on Friday, Sept. 21. The Benet Alumni lounge was filled with students, as well as staff from the Alumni Center, TRiO, and Student Support Services (SSS).

Lusiana was a dual degree student in computer science and graphic design. She didn't start there, however. The pressure she felt being a first generation student prompted her to try to study medicine.

"I was trying to do the best that I can to get to med school, but I was really unhappy. I think that was the hardest part of college, honestly," Lusiana said. "But I was a TRIO/SSS student, and my advisor at the time really helped me."

Her advisor encouraged her to try new classes, which is how she settled on her two majors. Once she landed a marketing internship in the Dean of Students office, Lusiana was hooked.

"I figured out I want to be in the higher education industry. I want to help students this way instead of being a doctor," Lusiana said. "I was able to use my graphic design skills, my computer science skills and use them in a new way, in a job I loved."

Her career has spanned from a temporary full-time position as a Technology and Learning Specialist in Binghamton University's SSS office, to graphic design and media communications position at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to her current position as a marketing and strategic communications manager at University of Arizona Bookstores.

There, she oversees the bookstore's marketing campaigns, works with brands like Nike and Starbucks, and manages a team of graphic designers, photographers, writers, and more.

"It's really fun because even though it's a retail environment, it's in a higher education industry. Our purpose is not to make money just to give to corporate," Lusiana said." We try to sell things so that we can give back to the students. The revenue that we make goes back into their scholarships, athletics, events like spring fling, admissions, and orientation."

The students in attendance at Lusiana's talk wanted to know if she felt that lacking a marketing degree limits her as a manager.

Lusiana responded that even though she does have a masters degree in technology management from Eastern Illinois University, the experiences she's gathered working along the way were more valuable than she'd expected.

"It's all about the things that you learn in school, and the experiences that you gather from your work and your internships," Lusiana said. "I'm a marketing manager now, but all of that came from the experiences I had at SSS, at the Dean of Students office, at my job at the University of Illinois. That led me to those marketing skills and management skills that I needed."

For students interested in her field and beyond, Lusiana recommended two job application tips:

  1. Your cover letter is your place to let your passion about the work shine through. Use it!
  2. Create an online portfolio of 7-8 of your best works. Create an about page as well, and introduce yourself on it, maybe even in a video. It will help you stand out.

Jasper Arey, a senior human development major and a TRiO student, attended and was able to connect with Lusiana on multiple levels.

"I think it was really valuable to see a TRiO alumnus excelling in her field, and being able to hear her experience meant a lot to me," Arey said. "Dennis is in the field I plan on pursuing, so it was really cool to get to ask her questions one-on-one and learn more about someone who recently began in that field and had real advice from our shared background."