For Rebekah Liszewski, an MBA candidate at St. Bonaventure University, life is very, very good. But it wasn’t always.
During her freshman year, Liszewski suffered the heart-wrenching loss of her older sister, which devastated the North Syracuse native. “We were best friends. It rocked my whole world,” she said. “St. Bonaventure became the backbone I needed.”
In the days, weeks and months following the tragedy, not only did Bona friends come to her rescue but professors too, helping her grieve and becoming her “family away from family.” She came through the heartbreak with renewed hope and a laser focus on the future.
Today Liszewski is a self-assured graduate assistant preparing for the Certified Public Accounting exam and finishing her final year at Bonaventure. She is a member of the 4+1 MBA in Professional Accountancy program, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with majors in accounting and finance, and will earn a Master of Business Administration degree next spring.
“I feel safe here. I am developing the person I want to be,” she said. “As a freshman I was scared. Looking back five years later, it’s like a dream come true.”
She is also proud to share the legacy of being a Bonnie with a family member. Her grandfather, Robert J. Liszewski, was an English major in the 1950s.
Hungry to experience all that Bona’s has to offer, Liszewski immersed herself in a number of clubs and activities through the years. She served as a resident assistant, orientation leader, student ambassador, coordinator for SBU@SPCA and mentor for the Foster Center for Professional Leadership. She was also a member of the Freshman Leadership program, the Competitive EDGE Certificate program, cheerleading, CAB, Canvas 4 A Cure, the Bonaventure Accounting Association and Students in Money Management. She is also the recipient of numerous scholarships and was honored with The Dr. John H. Burns Award for Excellence in Finance.
And in the summer of 2019, she earned a spot as a Dean’s Global Scholar, traveling to Morocco to meet with business owners and volunteer at a woman’s shelter. “It was my first time out of the country. I learned so much. It was amazing,” Liszewski said of the experience. “Being able to have the opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture really helped with gaining a greater sense of global acumen. Asking Moroccan business owners about their strategic plans and goals was something every student dreams of doing.”
She credits Professor Giles Bootheway, a lecturer in finance, for sparking the first aha moment of her academic career. They met at the 2016 Spring into Bona’s event where he suggested she consider not only accounting but finance as well since the two “go hand-in-hand and are applicable.”
By her sophomore year she took his advice, eventually making finance the top focus of her double major. Since then Bootheway has become a mentor, encouraging her to always reach high.
“Rebekah is one of those students who comes along maybe every 10 years or so, meaning she’s
extremely organized and has given a lot of thought to how she can make her life better in the future,” said Bootheway. “She graduated early and used that extra semester to land internships. She has been the poster child for time management and has been a delight to teach.”
Liszewski said she has enjoyed her time at Bona’s—immensely.
“The dean, assistant dean and all of the professors go above and beyond what their job obligations are. You can ask them about anything. You can tell they love being here,” she said.
Liszewski not only discerned her career path at Bona’s but found love as well. Her boyfriend, Donavan Lowe, is a member of the Class of 2020 and a graduate of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Though he lives in Georgia and she’s in New York state, no amount of distance can change the way the two feel for one another, Liszewski said. With hopes of one day tying the knot, the couple is thankful for St. Bonaventure bringing them together.
“I have learned and discovered so much here,” she said. “I am forever grateful.”
By Susan Anderson