Students in field

Haley Makela Named 2019 Student Representative for Finlandia University

March 29, 2019

Finlandia University’s 2019 graduating class will hear from marketing major Haley Makela during this year’s commencement ceremony as the local student was selected as Student Representative. Makela has succeeded in and out of the classroom, all while being a dual-sport athlete in basketball and soccer.

“As a freshman I was always working to be the Student Representative,” she recalled, thinking back to her first days on campus. “It was a goal for myself to not only achieve it, but to have earned it and to be seen as the best person to represent my class. I’m honored to have been chosen and succeeded in that goal and represent a group with such grit, such sisu.”

Growing up in the Copper Country, Makela found a perfect fit at FinnU with the small class sizes, intercollegiate athletics and her Finnish heritage.

“I originally wasn’t planning on coming to Finlandia,” said Makela. “However, after I was asked to tour by the basketball coach at the time, I fell in love with the campus and the people here. It felt a lot like my high school, since I’m from the area and Finnish, and it felt like home.”

While coming to Finlandia may not have been the original plan, Makela found both her calling and herself during her time as a student.

“I’ve definitely changed during my time at Finlandia,” said Makela. “I’ve become more outgoing and grown into who I truly am, and I found what I want to do with my life.”

Those around her at Finlandia also took notice of her hard work.

“Haley has been one of those exceptional students who has taken advantage of the opportunities that a Finlandia education offers,” said Kevin Manninen, Dean of the International School of Business. “She has a long list of accomplishments both academic and athletic, and she did all that while maintaining an excellent GPA.”

As the youngest of 12, having the close-knit community that Finlandia provides was important to her.

“Everyone here is so supportive and works with you to make the best education experience possible,” she said. “I come from a big family and it’s important to all of us to stay close and be close to each other. I get the same feeling from my professors and coaches at Finlandia.”

As a dual sport athlete and someone who wants to work in athletics, she followed the sports management track here at Finlandia, but found she wanted something a little different
as she went on.

“I started as a sports management major and while I know I want my career to be in sports, I found I was drawn to more of the science of people within sports than anything,” Makela said. “So, I decided at the beginning of my junior year to switch my major to marketing.”

With a 3.94 GPA, she will graduate Summa Cum Laude. Much of that success, she believes, is tied to the small-school advantages.

“I’ve really gotten to craft my own education, even with switching majors,” she said. “I got to keep my same advisor, Steve Nordstrom, and he let me take on both the sports management classes to get that athletics experience, and to learn more about the sociology and philosophy portions of marketing. It has made me feel ready to get a job I’ll love.”

As well as going above-and-beyond in the classroom and being a multi-sport athlete, Makela was involved in many other things on campus.

Additionally, Makela was selected as the 2018 Ponsse Einari Vidgrén Foundation Intern, which is awarded to one business student who does a six-week internship at Ponsse’s headquarters in Finland and Wisconsin.

“I’ve definitely become a lot more involved as my time here went on,” said Makela. “I started to get a little more involved my sophomore year, but my junior year I realized that I needed to start putting in the effort to get the most out of the opportunities we all have here. I don’t think I would’ve gotten all those opportunities at another university”

Makela cites family values as the core of everything she does, and that continued during her time at Finlandia.

“I was always taught to go above-and-beyond for those who are helping you,” said Makela. “Finlandia is helping me get the best education possible and has helped me get enough scholarships to not be buried in debt after graduation. Because of that I wanted to give back to the school that gave me so much.”

After graduation Makela will be searching for a job in Women’s Basketball and hopes to stay in the Midwest area.

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