McKayla Murphy, Sadie Coleman, and Alyson EdwardsIf luck has anything to do with finding kindred spirits in college, a group of Day Hall students hit a trifecta at Syracuse University. Sadie Coleman, Alyson Edwards and McKayla Murphy share an affinity for Orange sports, information technology and each other. This connection became an anchor that helped them weather their first-year adjustment period. “It’s been one year on campus and I am already sure I have found friends for life,” Murphy says.

Coleman believes Syracuse University was her destiny from an early age. Her parents met on Marshall Street in the ’90s, when her mother was a Syracuse University undergraduate and her father was a student at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “I was born Orange,” says Coleman, who grew up in nearby Cazenovia, attended games on campus and always wanted to be a student here. “I love being a legacy, and I wanted a school with big athletic programs and crazy school spirit. Coming to Syracuse University felt like coming home.”

Planting Seeds for a Future Career

When her older brother Cooper was accepted at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool), it ignited Coleman’s interest in information technology. “I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” she says. She heard about the iSchool’s It Girls Overnight Retreat, a weekend workshop on campus that introduces high school junior and senior girls to STEM careers in the field of information technology, and she was all in.

That was where she met Alyson Edwards, a high school junior from Wyckoff, New Jersey. “The It Girls Retreat was life changing for me,” Edwards recalls. “I was shocked by how much the iSchool had to offer.” A friendship bloomed, and both girls set their college sights on Syracuse University. They just completed their first year together as roommates pursuing dual majors-Coleman in information management and technology through the iSchool and marketing through the Whitman School of Management, and Edwards in information management and technology through the iSchool and business management through Whitman.

Murphy completes the trio of Day Hall best friends. She was drawn to Syracuse University from North Reading, Massachusetts for different reasons. “The best thing about Syracuse is the diverse campus,” Murphy says. “I grew up in a small town and wasn’t always exposed to different backgrounds. The University has made me want to explore other places and viewpoints.” She realized Syracuse University would be her destination before her campus tour was over. “The school spirit, the academics, the beautiful buildings, and the supportive atmosphere” all contributed, she says. “It was an environment where I could see myself thriving.”

Murphy enrolled at Whitman with a double major in management and retail management. She became intrigued with information technology when she discovered how closely it aligns with business management in the contemporary workplace, so she is adding a minor in information management and technology through the iSchool to her portfolio.

Forging Powerful Bonds

All three young women cemented their sisterhood when they joined Alpha Phi sorority. “It’s really bonded us in a way we could have never imagined,” says Coleman. Edwards points out additional benefits. “I joined a sorority because I wanted to have mentors who were older and expand my friends beyond the people in my classes and dorm,” she says.

Opportunities for professional growth are abundant at Syracuse University, and the young women have embraced every option they could fit into their schedules. “Alyson and I went on the New York City iSchool Road Trip in October, and got to experience the city in a whole new way,” Coleman says. “We visited a variety of companies ranging from big businesses like First Data and Microsoft to small startups by Syracuse alumni.” The trips bridge classroom learning and the real world of IT with business themes like retail, finance, healthcare and technology, travel and hospitality, or media and entertainment.

Murphy says her first year was highlighted by “amazing professors who taught me life lessons and the skills I need to become successful in my future.” She has continued to nurture a passion for painting along with her academic pursuits. “Painting is a hobby that has taught me patience and self-control, and has helped me shape my first year in college,” she says.

The Pursuit of Learning Goes Abroad

The trio will expand their education abroad this summer through EuroTech, an 18-day seminar course offered by the iSchool that will begin in London and take them through Bruges, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Geneva, Munich, Venice, Florence and Rome. “We all took the Global Technology Abroad course spring semester to prepare,” Coleman says. “We’ll be visiting companies and learning how they use technologies to get ahead. I’m excited for this amazing opportunity to go abroad with my friends while earning credits.”

Three years remain in their student experience at Syracuse University, and the young women intend to use that time to fully prepare for the next chapter of their lives. “It takes hard work to do well here, but we like to work hard and play hard,” says Coleman. For Edwards, “Being Orange” means being proud of the effort it takes to succeed. “Syracuse classes are not ‘busy work’ in any way. All of my classes have had a meaning that was clear to me,” she says. “This has been the best year of my life, and it’s exciting to know I’m learning things that will actually affect my future.”

Mary Beth Horsington