The official newsletter of the UNT
G. Brint Ryan College of Business.

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Laura Schlegel ('07)

Laura Schlegel's "marketing mind" is always on. And it helped her land her own series "Pretty Crafty" on Ellen DeGeneres' Ellentube channel.

Schlegel is a Nashville-based stay-at-home mother and avid crafter who frequently watches The Ellen DeGeneres Show. When the show sponsored a contest last year seeking "Ellen's Most Gifted Wrapper," Schlegel couldn't resist. Her creativity won her $20,000 and three episodes on the EllenTube app.

For Schlegel, crafting is a fun way to express her love for others -- which made her the right fit for DeGeneres' show.

"I feel like Ellen challenges us," she says. "How can you be kind to people … to shift the focus from yourself to other people? So it's just like when I'm crafting and creating something homemade, I'm automatically trying to think of people."

For her first video, Schlegel got her family involved. Her husband, Hans, wrote a rap song that she performed about DeGeneres' love of gorillas. He emerged out of a huge box in a gorilla suit while Schlegel and her 6-year-old daughter Annika danced along.

That video landed her a spot as a top five finalist. Her next task -- find an item in her house that would be impossible to wrap -- was due in two days. Schlegel ended up creating a prank for Hans: wrapping a snowboard so that it looked like a gym workbench. When he sat on it, it fell apart.

She made it as one of the top three finalists -- or so she thought. In January, Schlegel was whisked off to Los Angeles for the taping of the contest that would determine the winner. She and comedian Kalen Allen raced to see who could unwrap a box the fastest. When she tore off the many layers, a note revealed she was the winner.

"I was just blindsided and obviously just emotional," she says.

Schlegel and her family were invited to return to Los Angeles in February, where she taped three segments for the show.

For one video, she transformed a hard hat so that it looks like a plant and, in a nod to DeGeneres' penchant for scaring people, she popped out of the planter in a hallway -- freaking out several of the show's staff members.

In another segment, assisted by Annika, she made puffy paint, a watermelon-shaped piñata and a bookmark that looks like a gorilla.

The series is a culmination of Schlegel's skills that began at UNT, where she majored in marketing. As a steadfast student-athlete and member of the Mean Green swim team, she learned discipline and hard work with the five-hour-a-day practices. After college, she worked in marketing and as a corporate recruiter. Now she's taking care of her daughter, Annika, 6, and her son, Stein, 2.

"I am hoping I can catapult this opportunity to do some dream things and that it opens some doors for me," she says. "I am excited to see what the future has to hold."




Gary Walston  ('90)

Ernst & Young named UNT alum Gary Walston a finalist in their 2020 Entrepreneur of the year program. The program was founded to recognize those who provide innovative solutions for growth in their field of business—and for four years, Walston has earned the title. 

As the co-founder and CEO of Dolphin Debit Access, Walston is no stranger to thinking outside the ATM box. His innovative ideas and willingness to take risks are what helped transform Dolphin Debit Access from a mere idea more than 15 years ago, into the nation's leading provider of all-inclusive ATM outsourcing services to financial institutions today.
Walston first discovered opportunities for growth in ATM operations shortly after graduating from UNT, while working for a bank marketing company. It was there that he discovered the vast, untapped market of ATM advertising.

While many people can often identify missed opportunities in business, Walston acted on them and subsequently founded ATM Advertising Solutions. ATM Advertising Solutions was a pioneer in ATM marketing at the time, and ultimately led him to start Dolphin Debit Access.

“I think when we started the business there was a selfish aspect to build the business, but over the course of my career I realized that it’s more about making a difference in peoples’ lives,” explained Walston.

Now, he does both. From operating his company with an astounding 25-30% compound annual growth, to giving back to UNT in more ways than one.

“I believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and want to be able to help students with that spirit,” said Walston. “While at UNT, the business school focused on a wide-range of courses that provided me with a well-rounded education… being a guest speaker is a good chance for me to give back.”

Walston not only volunteers his time as a guest speaker for UNT business students, but he also established The Gary and Tammy Walston Endowed Scholarship for the G. Brint Ryan College of Business in 2019—providing entrepreneurship students with a permanent tradition of empowerment and opportunity.

With Walston’s support, his legacy of entrepreneurial achievement will live on through future generations of UNT business students—giving them the tools to turn their degree into another Mean Green success story.



Theresa Kathryn Klein Smith (1959-2019)

A newly established scholarship will soon live out the legacy of 1988 accounting alumna, Theresa “Terri” Kathryn Klein Smith.

Born in Dallas and graduating from Bishop Lynch High School in 1977, Terri spent her career not only striving for excellence, but mentoring others to do the same. As a student, she earned the high distinction of magna cum laude with both her bachelor and master’s degrees in tax accounting from UNT. After graduation, she continued to excel as a licensed CPA in both Texas and Missouri while spending her career working for Arthur Anderson-Dallas, Grant Thornton-Dallas, a Fortune 500 company in Missouri, BKD in Missouri, and Corptax, Inc.-a leading international tax software firm in Plano.  Often taking young college graduates under her wing to help them start their careers, Terri believed in providing opportunities to others.

Those who knew her describe her as the “sweetest girl in the world,” “wonderful lady,” “a smile to light up the room,” “upbeat nature,” “wonderful smile,” “utmost professionalism, inspiration to all who knew her,” “positive attitude, wisdom, honesty, and kindness,” “honor to work with her,” “wonderful laugh, honor and privilege to work with her,” “passion for service made others’ lives better every day,” “easy laugh and a smile in her voice,” “will miss her smile, sharp wit, and engaging personality,” “will miss her expertise, camaraderie, and smile,” “one of the kindest people I have ever met.”

Her husband, Ken, has established a substantial scholarship in her name that will continue Terri’s legacy of generosity and selflessness. Open to master’s in taxation students, the Theresa Kathryn Klein Smith Memorial Endowed Scholarship will offer financial assistance to those striving to reach their professional goals and achieve academic excellence.

The G. Brint Ryan College of Business is proud to have Terri’s memory live on through the scholarships that will serve to enhance students’ lives forever.



National scholarship awarded to OBHR student

Valerie Rojo, organizational behavior and human resource management senior, was awarded the 2020 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation Undergraduate Academic Scholarship in the amount of $2,500.

"Earning this scholarship means a great deal to me as I know that this is a national scholarship that was available to all students across the nation. It's special getting to be recognized from a professional organization like SHRM," said Rojo.

This merit-based honor is highly competitive, drawing in applicants from across the country with only thirty awardees selected. Selection criteria include level of commitment to the HR profession, volunteer, leadership and service activities, academic achievement and financial need.

"I believe that being a well balanced student helped me to stand out. Aside from attending school full time, I have held multiple jobs throughout my time at UNT in order to help fund my education, and I am also a member on the North Texas Dancers dance team," said Rojo.

Rojo is the first UNT recipient of the SHRM Academic scholarship in recent years, exemplifying her commitment to the industry and her professional development, both in the classroom and in the community.  

Social entrepreneurship course gives back during the holiday season

Nineteen groups of entrepreneurial students are developing innovative ways to give back this holiday season. G. Brint Ryan Chair of Entrepreneurship Dr. Jeremy Short has challenged his class with raising $10,000 for charities of their choice.

“Class groups can select from either DonorsChoose (a crowdfunding platform that supports teachers) or GoFundMe (a platform supporting many causes ranging from animal welfare to veterans’ organizations to mental health, etc.). Students create and develop the idea, campaign, community partner, and all aspects associated with raising the funds,” explained Short.

Coinciding with Giving Tuesday, a global philanthropic movement, each class campaign must kick off by December 1 and reach $500 before the end of the semester. Many teams have capitalized on the opportunity to give back by starting their projects early, and are either already fully funded or making significant headway in reaching their goal.

Bradley Huffman, senior supply chain management major, teamed up to support Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas, with nearly $400 already in the virtual bank. Huffman and his classmates chose to fundraise for veterans because of their military ties and passion for giving back during this difficult year.


UNT places in top five at annual Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition

A team of three Ryan College of Business students placed in the top five at the fourth annual Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition. Open to all accredited educational institutions, more than 700 students from 76 universities competed virtually for a combined $70,000, with only five teams advancing to the final round.

Kashif Saeed, program director of MS Business Analytics and faculty mentor of UNT’s team, would like this achievement to set the trend for many more years to come. “This is a defining moment in the journey of MS Business Analytics program at UNT,” said Saeed.

The Humana-Mays competition has grown to become one of the most respected analytics competitions in the nation—tasking students with solving complex, real-world healthcare challenges by using data analytics and predictive modeling. This year’s proposed problem involved Medicare members’ barriers to healthcare access. 

 “Succeeding in the competition required multiple skills: excellent analytical understanding of a business problem, proficiency in data mining and visualization, excellent written and oral communication, and time management,” explained UNT Analytica team captain Mahdi Ahmadi.

Ahmadi competed with teammates Shruti Chandna and Shweta Batra, all of whom are anticipated to graduate from UNT in 2021 with master’s degrees in business analytics.

“Two parts of the competition were very challenging: developing a predictive model that would perform well on a noisy and complex dataset, and finding solutions to overcome Humana members' problem of transportation barriers to healthcare access. The second one was more challenging because Humana as a successful business is already trying many different solutions, and we needed to go above and beyond their current solutions,” said Ahmadi.




UNT professors publish COVID-19 research in top journal

Two studies conducted by UNT professors, both analyzing differing effects of COVID-19 on employee well-being, have been accepted into The Journal of Applied Psychology, a Financial Times top-50 publication.

Dr. Hoda Vaziri, assistant professor of management at the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, evaluated data from full-time employed adults to uncover how COVID-19 impacted how employees manage their work and family, and the consequences of such a change. Her research, titled “Changes to the work–family interface during the COVID-19 pandemic: Examining predictors and implications using latent transition analysis,” was co-authored by Wendy Casper of University of Texas Arlington, Julie Wayne of Wake Forest University and Russell Matthews of University of Alabama.

From Vaziri’s findings, she and her team were able to develop “best practices” for organizations to adopt, in order to better serve their employees and increase job satisfaction and work-life balance.

“We found that those who experienced technostress (feeling overwhelmed by new technology), found it particularly difficult to manage their work during the pandemic. On the other hand, those who had a compassionate supervisor during the initial stages of the pandemic were better able to manage their work and family roles. In addition, while we found employees’ experience in managing their work and family was relatively stable, those who were better in managing their work and family before the pandemic were able to avert significant distress during the pandemic. This means that by proactively supporting work-family needs, employers can better position employees to navigate work and family roles effectively before and during disruptive events like COVID-19, which might lead to increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment as well.,” explained Vaziri.

Research conducted by Dr. Danielle Cooper, associate professor in the department of Management, and co-authored with UNT former doctoral student, Kathryn Ostermeier (Bryant University), and Miguel Caldes (University of Texas - Tyler), took a more specific approach to evaluating employee welfare—diving into work meaningfulness and resource depletion in healthcare workers during the pandemic. Her paper, titled, “When helping hurts: COVID-19 critical incident involvement and resource depletion in health care workers," analyzed the level of involvement of healthcare workers and how said involvement affected personal resources, as well as susceptibility to depression.


UNT Day at the Capitol

In 2019, the University of North Texas Alumni Association assembled a group of more than 120 alumni, students and friends of the university to advocate for UNT at the Texas State Capitol. Now we’re asking our alumni to raise their Mean Green voices once again for UNT Day at the Capitol 2021!

We are planning a robust letter-writing campaign that will allow you to promote UNT's priorities and make a tremendous impact on state legislators without ever leaving home.

Here's how it will work: 

  1. Sign up using the link below. Alumni and students are welcome to participate!
  2. You will receive information about training, which you can take online at your leisure.
  3. In early January, alumni will receive a box packed with everything you need to write effective letters to legislators (plus a little UNT gift for helping your alma mater). Students will receive information about how to write their letters, and we’ll mail them for you!
  4. Alums will mail their letters in early February.
  5. Everyone can attend a virtual party we're planning in early February, where we'll celebrate our incredible volunteers!

Ready to sign up? Just click here.

The help we received from alumni and students in 2019 — telling their success stories and touting the power of a UNT education — made an enormous impact on behalf of the University of North Texas. I hope we will hear from you in 2021! If you have questions, you can email for information.



With the end of the year around the corner, we have a lot to reflect on and be thankful for. From successfully navigating a new way to educate, to receiving an outpouring of support from our alumni and friends, we are grateful to have such an innovative and supportive Mean Green family.

As you’re aware, COVID-19 has presented its share of challenges for our university and its students this year. As a result, more than $400,000 has been awarded directly to business students through the McNatt Emergency Fund since September 2019. These awards would not have been possible, and many students would not have been able to continue their educational journey, if it weren’t for our donors.

Despite this generosity, however, our students and programs are still calling on you for help.

Your investment in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business will make a life-changing difference for those in need. From providing technology to a freshman, to eliminating food insecurity for a graduating senior, your gift matters.

Please use the donate button below to make your year-end donation before December 31. Each dollar raised helps boost the confidence and ability for our students to succeed.




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G. Brint Ryan College of Business

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