Outstanding Business Students 2017/2018

Published: May 11, 2018

College of Western Idaho (CWI) is proud to announce the annual winners of the Pearson Outstanding Business student of the year:  Jameson Rodriguez, Tosha Stein, Alli Miles, Magen Nielsen, and Aleshia Anderson. These students are being recognized for their academic achievements and activities in and out of the classroom.

Students were nominated for the award by Business faculty and internship advisors. Applications were reviewed by a faculty committee and winners were selected based on eligibility requirements, grade point average, and other honors, contributions, and achievements. Those selected receive a scholarship, a personalized certificate and medal, and have their name added to an annual plaque. 

For more information regarding the CWI Business Student of the Year award, contact Joe Welker at joewelker@cwi.edu


Jameson Rodriguez

I was born on the Elmendorf Air Force base in Anchorage, Alaska. Both of my parents were in the military and as a result I’ve lived in a few states including Alaska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, Florida, and briefly in Arizona. I graduated high school from Thomas Jefferson Charter School out of Caldwell, Idaho in 2011. During my time at Thomas Jefferson I was able to play lacrosse and basketball for Vallivue High School. Before taking classes from CWI I attended a stringed instrument building and repair course from Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery out of Phoenix, Arizona. Since graduating high school I’ve mostly been a laborer in the construction industry, hence my desire to earn my degree.

My most meaningful achievement has been successfully taking courses from CWI, I struggled academically in High School. So much so, that by the time I graduated I truly believed I was just too stupid to go to college. It took me a couple years before I would even try to take college classes. I’m very grateful to the teachers inside and outside the business department that have helped bring me that much closer to obtaining my academic dreams and career goals beyond that. A special attribute that sets me apart would be my ability to remain calm and make decisions in high stress situations. Failing many times at a bunch of different things has helped develop this attribute and has made success taste that much sweeter. I’d be a good candidate for this award because I’ll be a good representation of the kind of students CWI business department can produce as I move on to a four-year university.

Tosha Stein

Attending CWI has been a three-year journey that I never thought I would be able to take. I grew up in a family with parents who never promoted secondary schooling, they themselves not making it through even high school. I was the odd one out being a “business-centric” child. I kept lists and made spreadsheets on paper, ran entrepreneurial enterprises in the summers selling keychains and hosting lemonade stands among other various ventures. The thought of someday purchasing a new car or home though was still a foreign concept, people who grew up in my economical and emotional setting just didn’t do those things.

For many years I worked jobs that did not allow for professional or personal growth and I became jaded thinking that the world was out to get me. Thoughts such as “why couldn’t I have been born into money” and “why can’t I just get a break” frequently crossed my mind. And despite this fact I applied for my FAFSA every year not knowing how to utilize the funding once I was accepted.

Finally, after a three year stretch of unemployment I decided it was either time to get another wasting job or go to school and so I found myself at CWI. My first semester was a summer semester where I very quickly became enthralled with being a student, in fact in my very first class I was introduced to metacognition which was life changing in itself.

Being able to apply my knowledge in a constructive setting, being challenged on my paradigms and learning even basic communication skills was an awe-inducing experience. I decided from then on to say yes to any opportunities that came my way and soon enough I learned to create those opportunities for myself.

My life is altered, I no longer think the world is out to get me; now I understand that I compose the world for myself. Since I have started school I have purchased a new car, am buying a new home, I have had a second child and I have achieved more in the past three years than I have in my entire life.

Never will I be at a job where I am underappreciated and unable to develop externally and internally, never will I have a difficult day and not realize that it is a learning opportunity. I will always strive to achieve what I desire, and I will never, ever stop working to better myself, my family, my community and my world.

Alli Miles

After a 13-year break from college, I made the decision to return to school in 2017 to finish my education. I had spent almost two decades building a career in an industry that I loved, but that required me to be away from my three young children most weeks. When I made the decision to start over, I knew that I would need to expand my skills and complete my degree. While I was frustrated after enrolling at CWI to find out that only 15 of my credits would transfer to my chosen degree, I made a decision to not let that be a barrier. It’s critical that I set an example of academic success and commitment in our household, and I have maintained a 4.0 GPA during all semesters at CWI.

Currently I work full-time at the Treasure Valley YMCA as their Human Resources Recruiting Director. I am truly passionate about working with people to find positions that help them feel valued and successful. In particular, I strive to ensure that our internal applicants have a career development plan in place to set them on a path to realize their goals. I have worked very hard to be accessible and approachable to our field team, and to establish a reputation as being committed to the professional growth of our employees. I try to do this in school as well, making myself available to peers for study groups and being supportive wherever I can.

After a lot of research and weighing all my options, I decided this past month to pursue a B.S. in Business Administration at NNU. After that, I am considering the M.S. of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning program at BSU. My long-term career goal is to lead the Human Resources department at Treasure Valley Y or another non-profit, and to create a culture of ongoing growth and development at all levels of the organization.

I will be forever grateful for the experiences I have had at CWI. I have done things here that I never thought I would (like reading a short story I wrote out loud!), and I am very proud to say that I am graduating from this school. I try to share my experiences with anyone I meet who is considering a life change, without knowing where to start. I fully believe that CWI has set me up for success for the next step in my educational journey.

Magen Nielsen

Magen Nielsen is a business student finishing her business, associate of arts in Fall 2017. She has successfully completed the major courses including: Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Statistics 1 and 2, and Business Communication; frequently performing in the top 10% of her class. She is planning on attending NNU May 2018 and will take additional business courses that CWI offers in the spring to better prepare her for seeking a bachelors in accounting.

She has been a work-study student for the business department since February 2017. In this position, she has aided in grading papers, creating flyers, and performing other duties to assist the business professors.

She has been a Presidential Ambassador since 2016 and enjoys introducing new students to what CWI has to offer and guiding them around on campus tours. This has given her the opportunity of speaking with Idaho’s representatives about CWI and showing them the need for CWI’s future growth for our community.

Magen was raised in Filer, Idaho and graduated from Filer High School. She has three daughters that she enjoys exploring with and creating memories with. She is working hard and showing them how to be successful by example. She previously worked in accounting and bookkeeping. The positions she held opened her eyes to her love of accounting and led her to seeking a degree in accounting.

Aleshia Anderson

As you may know, I am a non-traditional business student here at CWI.  I started attending back in the fall of 2015 when my youngest child started school.  I figured that would be a good time to begin my college education since there would be no kids at home or requiring daycare during the day.

During these last three years I have maintained a 4.0 GPA.  My first semester I worked through 9 units in Math 095, which was difficult and very time consuming!  I consider that one of my college accomplishments.  While in school, I've somewhat successfully balanced two jobs and a family as well.

Throughout my life, believe it or not, I have always been a leader.  I was captain of my soccer and softball teams in high school.  In a professional sense, anytime I've had a job, I've learned anything and everything there is to know about that particular job and have progressed within the company.  For example, I've worked at Olive Garden for almost 10 years.  I started out as a server, worked my way to a certified trainer (training all of the new hire classes), then became a Service Professional, which is a step below management.  When I got to that point where they were asking me to go through manager training, that was a turning point for me and a little more of a shove, another reason to start school.  I did NOT want to be stuck in the restaurant business the rest of my life. 

Currently, Olive Garden is my "fill in" job.  I work there when I don't have homework and my kids are at their dad's house.  I'm also a manager at Stor All Self Storage.  I've been assistant manager for about 4 years and manager is a brand-new title for me.  Working here has been a great opportunity.  The owner very much supports me going to school and appreciates that work that I do.  He has even allowed me to use business information for school projects!  Also, he takes to heart and implements suggestions that I present to him to improve his business.  I feel this job is great experience for me in the business field.  It gives me a lot of responsibility and requires me to be in many different situations and scenarios that will help me learn and grow even more.

I am very honored to be considered for this award.  I do feel that I am a good student and I always do my best.  While taking classes specific to business, I feel I try and know the material, rather than just memorize it for a test and dismiss it the next day.  Having a career in business is very important to me and I've put a lot of time and effort into my education.

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