In a human resource management class, you would expect to explore the functions of effectively dealing with people in the workplace. But two Merrick students discovered much more in that class—a kindred spirit of sorts and a blossoming friendship. When Greta Stetson and Simone Bolton first met, as juniors, it took a while for them to really hit it off. As time passed and they learned more about one another they found they had more in common than they ever expected —it was more like looking into a mirror with different face reflecting back.
“We first met in Organizational Behavior,” said Stetson, a senior management major graduating in May. “We both sat in the front row, but we had another student who sat between us. We worked on a group project together, but didn’t really socialize.”
It wasn’t until Professor Susan Rawson Zacur’s human resource management class the following semester that the young women began to uncover the incredible similarities they shared.
“In Zacur’s class we sat next to each other. She was the only person I recognized on the first day of class,” Stetson recalled. “One day as we were leaving class, Simone said that she was walking to the Light Rail stop to go home. It happened to be a rainy day so I offered to take her home. We started talking and haven’t stopped since.”
One of the commonalities they shared was that they both had significant others in the military. Stetson’s boyfriend Derrick Group is currently serving in the Navy and plans to enroll at UB this fall to study business administration. Bolton, who’s graduating this spring with a minor in business administration and a major in psychology, understands what it takes to be a military spouse. Her husband, Rodney Bolton, Jr., B.S. ’10 served in the Air Force.
“I was still in school in Germany when Rodney was in Afghanistan,” Bolton said. “We weren’t married yet and it was very hard to be away from him for more than six months. I was always worried about what might happen to him. Talking over the phone and using Skype is just not enough. I empathize with what Greta is feeling when Derrick is away. It’s a difficult time when your boyfriend is away and having a support system is really important.”
While putting together this article, the Merrick Exchange chatted with Dean Darlene Smith to see how often she hears about these kinds of decades-long friendships that begin in a UB classroom. She recalled a 2011 meeting she had with Wallace Camp, B.S. ’52 and Virginia “Ginny” Shanklin Camp, A.A. ’50.
“It was great to learn about their time at UB, what they learned, how they met and how that experience transformed their lives,” Smith said. “During the conversation Ginny mentioned that she was a cheerleader at UB and she still keeps in touch with some of the members of the squad.”
Stetson and Bolton were asked what they thought about the longevity of a 60-year friendship like Ginny Camp has with her fellow cheerleaders, Bolton said she believes that true friendships can survive separation over time and distance and still flourish—no matter what. While she is aware that she and Stetson will follow different paths after graduation, she is confident that their friendship will endure.
“Many of our students establish bonds here that can last a lifetime,” Smith said. “I think it says a lot not just about what they take in during their classroom experiences, but how they become more aware of others’ lives, others’ hopes and dreams, as members of the Merrick family. After all, at the heart of business is human interaction, human relationships. I think we hold that as a core value here, and as a graduate and someone who still has friendships from my student days, I’m proud of it.”