Tyler Whitsett and Noela Leka, both affiliated with the College of Business, will create business strategies for Europe’s oldest textile design company

October 27, 2011

DEARBORN / Oct. 28, 2011---Tyler Whitsett plans to brush up on his Italian this week.

That’s because the University of Michigan-Dearborn student is headed to Italy next month to partake in a weeklong project at one of Europe’s oldest and most respected textile design companies, Marzotto Group.

“I am hardcore Rosetta Stone for the next week,” said Whitsett, who plans to use the popular language-learning software to help him converse overseas.

And if that doesn’t work, he can lean on Noela Leka for help. Leka, a recent UM-Dearborn graduate who’s fluent in Italian, will join Whitsett as part of the Marzotto project.

Whitsett and Leka, both affiliated with the College of Business, are among 25 students and recent graduates from all parts of the world who were chosen to participate in the program based on creating business strategies to aid in Marzotto’s future success. Marzotto celebrated 175 years in business this year, and in order to achieve continued success, they selected 25 young people to brainstorm new strategic plans for the company.

And as if the opportunity to work with one of the major players in the textile industry wasn’t enough, Whitsett and Leka won’t pay a dime because Marzotto is covering the bill. They fly out Nov. 5.

There, Whitsett plans to craft communications strategies, while Leka will work on strategic opportunities.

“It’s super exciting,” said Leka, a native of Albania. “It’s one of those things that I still don’t believe.”

Leka graduated last May with bachelor’s degrees in accounting, criminal justice and political science. She plans to pursue a master’s degree and believes this trip will benefit her during the application process.

“I think not only will it set my application apart, but it will also give me experience that no one else has,” she said. “It gives you knowledge that will help you, not only in the future, but to also grow as a person.”

Whitsett, a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management, said he’s honored to represent UM-Dearborn and the U.S while in Italy.

“It’s somewhat overwhelming just to know that I’m representing not only my school, but my country,” he said.

And the experience sure can add something unique to their resumes, said Lee Freeman, associate dean of administration and associate professor of MIS in the College of Business.

“It’s a huge deal, I think, especially in the job market today,” Freeman said. “This is something that’s going to stand out. It gives them a leg up in so many different ways. It’s just something that’s so unique and valuable for them as a student.”

Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University has nearly 8,900 students pursuing more than 100 bachelor's, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business and education.  A top-ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.



Beth Marmarelli