By Kara Turey

Our Alumni Spotlight in the UCF College of Business Graduate Programs is Saxsen Norton.  Saxsen is a 2020 graduate of the inaugural cohort of the Master of Science in Management-Integrated Business program.  Saxsen already has an undergraduate degree from UCF in Interdisciplinary Public Affairs and Commerce, Minor: Human Communication

Saxsen Norton, a native of Ocala, Florida is a former three-time state champion and Paralympic athlete in high school track and field.  A tractor accident when she was four years old left her paralyzed from the waist down.  She did not let this keep her from participating in swimming and basketball while growing up and she had incredible arm strength.  During her senior year of high school, after many years of nudging from the school track and field coach, she finally gave adaptive track and field a try. Saxsen competed in the 200, 800, and shot put against other athletes in the state of Florida and was a three-time state champion in these areas- all in her senior year of high school.  She has had drive since she was a young child and gives 110% to everything she does.

Saxsen started her college years at the University of Central Florida and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Public Affairs and Commerce, Minor: Human Communication.  She enjoyed this program, and as her undergraduate years were coming to an end, she wanted to continue to build on the skills she had already learned.  Her goal is to stay one step ahead of others.  The program she chose to pursue at UCF was just the right fit for her.  Saxsen says, “This program gives students a unique advantage in the business world, so they become accustomed to a different way of thinking. We can go into any line of business with a multidiscipline approach, whether it be from Human Resources, Accounting and Finance, to Project Management, we have knowledge and experience in all of them.”

While attending graduate school, Saxsen worked on campus in the UCF Recreation and Wellness as Facilities Scheduler Assistant.  In this role, she worked with on-site and off-site organizations to use the facilities for various events. She ensured compliance with all company policies and procedures and regulatory requirements. Also, she interned with ADP over a 12-week period in which she learned about implementation, client services, and tax. Also, she was a student-member of Society For Human Resources Management (SHRM), some of her accomplishments while a student at UCF were: expertise in a manager type role in human relations and project management, understanding customer needs, and handling conflicts and training students and staff.


About Your College Experience


What was the class culture like in the College of Business Graduate Programs?

The class culture was very comfortable and there were only 14 of us.  We saw each other Monday through Thursday for three or more hours a day so we all were very close.  Each professor had his/her way of teaching, but it was still a flipped classroom where instead of being lectured to, we were always hands-on and working on a project every day.  It made going to class more enjoyable because we all felt like we were getting something out of it rather than just sitting in a lecture hall.

How accessible are the faculty?

Each faculty member we worked with had office hours and was always available if we set up a meeting ahead of time.  The program encouraged all students to find a mentor in one of our faculty that was in the line of business we want to go into.  My mentor was Dr. Henry who encouraged me to get into SHRM.  We went over interview questions, resume critique, etc.  Our professors made sure they were available to speak with us whether it was in person, zoom meeting, via email, or even on the phone.  Their availability was something I had never experienced in my undergraduate program. My graduate school professors cared about each of us and gave advice to try and help us in any way so we could succeed.

What was the most beneficial thing you learned in the program?

The most beneficial thing I have learned from the program was how to balance.  Each class not only had class assignments but weekly updates on the end of the semester projects.  Also, we worked in teams every single class, so being able to understand other ideas and opinions while working on big projects and assignments taught us all patience and respect for one another. This is something we can transfer over to future employment.

 What was your favorite memory from this program?

In the program, we were invited to many events to network with businesses, professors, and professionals in their fields.  I was fortunate to go to the Women’s Dinner that was held in the College of Business, which was a wonderful experience.  However, my favorite memory was going to the UCF College of Business Hall of Fame Gala. We spent time with most of our professors, interacted with many of the businesses that we want to go and work for, and were able to find out what many UCF College of Business alumni are now doing.

 How will your UCF graduate degree help in your future career?

I graduated in August 2020 and I believe that the degree will help me in my career. It prepared me with the knowledge and experience to go into a business and feel confident in my ability to be an asset to that company.

Saxsen is a remarkable young woman and UCF has prepared her for her career and the workforce ahead. She will represent UCF well in the community and business world.  Good luck Saxsen and Go Knights!