When Elijah Elkerton first arrived at Western Illinois University, the major he went on to pursue was just beginning.
The Business Analytics program began in Fall 2018, the same time Elkerton arrived at Western Illinois University. This program was new for Illinois, combining business with data in a way that had not been done before. While he knew he wanted to pursue a career related to analytics and data, he actually chose the school before the program. He said, “I chose Western because of the masters program. I committed to Western and realized the Business Analytics program was perfect for the career I want to pursue.” Elkerton hopes to become a Chief Information Officer for a company. This career path would allow him to mix his business and analytical skills in order to apply them in a real world setting.
As the very first graduate of the program, Elkerton faced some unique challenges that not all college students face. There were not graduates or older students to turn to about course materials, as this was a road that had not yet been travelled. While this was a challenge, he also saw it as an opportunity. He said, “I was able to help the professors understand what we could do better in the future and give my perspective on what could come up in courses. Being a lab rat is tough, but I enjoyed being able to be a person who my professors looked to for feedback.”
While he is making strides and history in the academic area, Elkerton has also managed to leave his mark on athletics and extracurricular activities here at Western Illinois University. He plays football and serves as a member of the RockyTHON Executive Board in his spare time. His career path and passion for service come together as he serves as the Director of Fundraising for RockyTHON, helping the organization come up with ways to raise money, keep track of funds and use their budget wisely. Now that he has become the first graduate of his program, Elkerton is pursuing his master’s degree in Applied Statistics and Decision Analytics beginning this semester.
Elkerton believes that much of his success can be attributed to Western Illinois University. This school has impacted his life through not only academics, but his campus involvement. He stressed the importance of being involved and engaged, no matter what school or program you are a part of. College, and life for that matter, are what you make of them. Had he not taken these various opportunities to be more than just a student, Elkerton would not have had nearly the same college experience. If he had to give a piece of advice to incoming students considering this major, Elkerton would say, “This major is tough but also rewarding. You must like working with data, statistics, business and computers. It is the best of both worlds with business and technology. There are so many opportunities to learn and investigate data if you are passionate about it.”