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For Jade Rice, life as a Colonel is a family affair.

The senior marketing major from Richmond is soon to be a fourth-generation Eastern Kentucky University alumna. Eleven of her family members, including her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, have received degrees from EKU, the earliest graduating in 1948.

Family ties with the University enabled her to grow up on campus, attending EKU athletic events as well as dance camps. “Yelling ‘Go Colonels!’ at a football game was probably one of the first things in my vocabulary,” she recalled.

Since starting at the family school, Rice has been a leader in her sorority and an accomplished entrepreneur. She serves as formal recruitment chair, leadership chair and new member educator of Alpha Delta Pi. In addition, she owns two successful businesses: Jade Rice Photography and a Le-Vel health products sales business, in which she works as an individual brand promoter. Her photography business has achieved its first fully booked season, and she has earned the third highest rank in Le-Vel, selling $40,000 worth of products each month.

Business acumen seems to be in Rice’s blood. Her father and grandfather own a small business and have passed their passion down to her. “I have learned the importance of hard work and dedication, and how special it is to be able to support your family when your success came directly from the hard work you put in.” Among the lessons she has learned from her family are the importance of honesty and “taking care of those who choose to do business with you.”

Rice also credits her parents for her unrelenting work ethic and drive to succeed. “They have always been tough on me and held me to very high standards,” she said. At this pivotal time in her life, she said she appreciates the way she was raised. “My hope is that I can make them proud, and that they can see their own success in my future success.”

Rice fell in love with marketing in high school. Before her junior year, she said she only thought of marketing as advertising. A marketing internship with Lectrodryer, a Richmond-based firm that produces commercial dryers for companies all over the world, changed her mind. The creativity, organization and communication skills the job demanded sparked her interest. She decided to pursue a major in business and never looked back. “My favorite thing about marketing is how broad and unpredictable it is,” she said. “Most people don’t realize it, but marketing ties all functions of the workplace together, and assists in almost every function in some way.”

Rice’s marketing resume does not end there. In Spring 2016, she began the “internship of a lifetime” with MAP Group, which owns several car dealerships, Papa John’s franchises and other businesses, as well as sponsors the Detroit Pistons. She provides marketing efforts for Lexus of Lexington and has been offered a full-time position shortly after graduation. 

So how does Rice juggle school, extracurricular activities, an internship and two businesses? “I live by my planner,” she admitted. “I would lose my mind without it.” She routinely makes weekly schedules and daily to-do lists. “Prioritizing, budgeting and goal setting have been the best thing for me.”

One of Rice’s favorite characteristics of EKU is its size. “(Eastern) is big enough that there’s always something new going on, but small enough that you are more than just a name on the roster to your professor.” In fact, she said she never had a professor in class who did not know her on a first-name basis. “I will never be able to thank my professors and the rest of the staff for all they have helped me with throughout my four years here.”

Rice particularly enjoyed learning from Kirby Easterling, an executive in residence in the College of Business and Technology who heads its supply chain management program. “His passion for what he does and willingness to help students is very inspiring. He is such a genuine and caring professor, and I’m very thankful to have known him while at EKU.”

Easterling’s classes inspired Rice to pursue a certificate in supply chain management. She appreciates the wisdom he imparts to his students from his own vast experience in the field.

To prospective students, Rice recommends remaining “open-minded” about possible career paths. Though she plans to continue working with Lexus and MAP Group after graduation, her dreams for 30 years down the road are less about where she wants to be, and more about who she wants to be: “I hope to be able to look at whatever career I’m at and know that I’ve made a difference in that company,” she said. “I hope that I will be working in a career that provides for my family, while also allowing me to spend time with my family. My hope is to say that I’ve found my true passion in whatever I am doing 20-30 years down the road.”

— by Madison Harris, student writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management