Entrepreneur, leader, creator — at only 20 years old, political science senior Kaela Lewis’s accomplishments are nothing short of impressive. Over the last few years, Lewis has worked her way up the ranks of several organizations, proving her value to professors and peers alike.
As senior manager for The University of Tulsa’s Women’s basketball team and residential assistant for 24 women in her dorm, Lewis has more than proven her ability to lead. From being a self-made nail technician to serving as vice president of the Association of Black Collegians (ABC) to landing an internship and career with Synchrony Financial, this energetic individual is making great strides toward a bright future. In fact, she plans to graduate a year early and has a great job waiting for her.
Lewis’s drive has not gone unnoticed. Applied Instructor in Spanish Marta Chommoro, for instance, recalls the lasting impression Lewis made on her. “Kaela was never a timid freshman,” said Chommoro, “but a confident student who, from day one, shone as a leader among her peers. I am very thankful for her as a student whom I loved to have in class. In every class she demonstrated a cheerful attitude, eagerness to learn and made wonderful contributions to group discussions. She had a huge positive impact on classmates by raising the bar on expectations and inspiring others to follow. ¡GRACIAS, Kaela!”
A high-quality internship
While she has had many outstanding experiences during her time at The University of Tulsa, Lewis’s internship with Synchrony Financial from May to July stands out. As an intern, Lewis was placed in the Sales and Merchant experience track, where she worked closely with mentors and managed her own projects. Her most notable project was the creation of a quality assurance virtual newsletter. This 20-page template is still being used today.
Due to COVID-19, Lewis’s internship was entirely remote. Despite this, Lewis felt deeply involved. “Synchrony is an extremely inclusive company and went out of their way to make the experience feel as normal as possible despite the virtual environment,” Lewis said. Some of the ways Synchrony did this was by sending DoorDash gift cards and company swag to interns as well as hosting online events that allowed interns to engage with one another.
Lewis’s contributions also left a lasting impression on Synchrony Business Leadership Internship Program Director Vincent Bond. Lewis’s “dedication, commitment, and overall curiosity to her work and the company were apparent,” remarked Bond, who also described the impact Lewis had on her team and intern cohort, stating that “her hard work and diligence made it clear that she would be a great fit for our Full-Time Business Leadership Program. We are lucky to have her rejoin us after graduation.”
Lewis attributes much of her internship success to her time at TU and, in particular, her political science and sociology courses: “Those courses provided me with the experience I needed to communicate and work with diverse groups of people with a wide range of viewpoints during my internship.”
A degree, a career and then some
Outside of finishing her bachelor of arts degree and setting the stage for a rewarding job with Synchrony Financial, Lewis would like eventually to earn a juris doctor and work with high-profile clients as an entertainment lawyer. Indeed, she one day aspires to have her own firm that consists of lawyers who are all women of color. “I am a big proponent of the advancement of colored people and, especially women of color,” Lewis commented. “Therefore, I want to create a law firm that fosters an environment where women of color can flourish and work cohesively to make influential change.”
Along with her scholarly and business pursuits, Lewis is also an entrepreneurial nail artist. A self-taught nail technician, Lewis’s business The Glam Essential offers quality nail designs and services accessible to students on campus. In addition to earning money, Lewis uses this work as an outlet to be creative by “applying art and unique features” to her nail designs.
Balance is key
Lewis is clearly driven to succeed in her studies and career. But she also understands that balancing work and play is crucial.
When she’s not creating a fresh set of nails for a client, sharpening her Spanish skills, or managing TU’s women’s basketball team, Lewis often finds herself going on long walks, exercising at the gym, or watching her favorite movies, including Legally Blond, The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic. She has also found that journaling and meditation have been two key ingredients in her life, helping her to manage the stress that comes with being so active. When she needs a break from school, Kaela also enjoys spending time with her mother, whom she calls her “biggest supporter and strongest confidante.”
Out of all of Lewis’s strong suits, perhaps it is her ability to be both glamorous and serious – to balance play, academia, and business — that allows her to find success in all her pursuits. A real-life Elle Woods so to speak, Kaela’s commitment to herself and her high standards makes her the ultimate go-getter. While she will study her way to the top, she will not do so without having a little bit of fun along the way.
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