Before she had earned her high school diploma, recent Bay College graduate Stephanie LaFoille knew she was interested in the business world. Her experiences with The Grind Coffee House – a student-owned/operated coffee shop located in her hometown of Manistique – encouraged her to major in marketing.
“Having that business experience was helpful for my college degree,” she said.
Stephanie graduated from Manistique Middle and High School in 2017. As a high school student, Stephanie was a key player in efforts to establish The Grind Coffee House. She ran meetings to set up the business, helped write the business plan, and recruited other students for the project.
In her senior year of high school, Stephanie started earning general education credits at Bay College through dual enrollment. As she enjoyed Bay College’s atmosphere, she decided to start her full-time college education here in the fall 2017 semester.
“None of the other colleges had the warm feeling that they did,” Stephanie said.
However, Stephanie did not attend classes at Bay College in person.
“I did my entire college education online, which is another reason why I love Bay,” she said.
Though only taking online classes meant she had to miss out on some parts of life as a college student, Stephanie was happy with her time studying at Bay.
“Since I was an online student, it was sometimes hard to get the full college experience – but I was able to talk to my instructors, and they would get back to me so quickly that it was no problem to do online classes,” she said.
While taking classes at Bay, Stephanie worked at a credit union in the area and continued to help out at The Grind through 2018. As a result of her busy schedule, she ended up taking the fall 2018 semester off.
“I was really busy with The Grind, and I was working full time – I needed a little bit of a breather,” she said.
During her semester off, Stephanie decided to change her major. When she had started at Bay, she was a business administration major. Despite this, she felt that pursuing a degree in marketing could serve her well.
“It was more of a direct degree – business is pretty broad – and I feel like I have the communication skills for marketing,” she said of her decision to switch majors.
Stephanie’s choice was also motivated by her experiences at The Grind.
“I was a jack of all trades there, but I did a lot of communication with the community. I was talking to the media pretty consistently, because it was such a big thing,” she said.
That gave her an introduction to the world of marketing, which convinced her that she could succeed in the field.
While she worked towards her new degree, Stephanie continued to appreciate the support provided by her teachers at Bay.
“I loved all my classes, and just about every one of my instructors was very helpful in helping me get to where I am,” she said.
Stephanie graduated at the end of Bay’s winter 2021 semester with an associate degree in marketing and marketing research. Today, she lives in South Carolina, where she has taken the first steps towards finding work in her field.
“I work at a pediatric therapy center in South Carolina and I’m a scheduling coordinator, but I’m also going to help with marketing,” she said.
She hopes to pivot into primarily working on marketing-related duties there. Eventually, though, Stephanie aims to return to the state she called home for most of her life.
“I would love to go back to Michigan, eventually – because I grew up there, that’s where my heart is, for sure,” she said.