Serial Entrepreneur Wins Top Award at 2023 Academic Achievement Awards
Murray Dalziel and Joanne Jones

On May 5, 2023, the Merrick School of Business held its annual Academic Achievement Awards ceremony. This event celebrates our top students and honors their hard work. The highlight of the night is always learning who will earn the Dean’s Award. This award is presented to the undergraduate Merrick School of Business student who demonstrates high academic achievement, leadership, and service. This year the winner of that top award was Joanne Jones


Joanne Jones, B.S. ’23 (Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Fellow) is a lifelong entrepreneur. She fell in love with entrepreneurship at 15 years. She was a self-taught hair braider. She did not know what being an “entrepreneur” meant. But she had a knack for it and enjoyed experimenting with her pricing strategy and she enjoyed her work schedule. She went on to obtain her cosmetologist and barber licenses and became a two-time salon owner. After two car accidents in 2016, she wanted to explore career options that were less taxing on her body. 


Her road to UBalt began while studying at Howard Community College, where she received her associate degree in Dec. 2019. She won the grand prize in the HCC Entrepreneurial Celebration Pitch Competition in the Spring of 2019 for her business venture Kenyan Kutie Jewelry. Kenya Kutie is authentic jewelry from her homeland of Kenya, Africa. She shares the beauty and culture of Kenya with Ameri cans and donates 10 percent of the net profits to the Village Food Bank Inc., which feeds and supports the vulnerable in Kenya. In July 2019, Kenyan Kutie won first prize in the Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Pitch Competition. 


Her HCC professor informed her about the Ratcliffe Entrepreneur Fellows Program at UBalt. She felt it aligned well with her goals. Like-minded entrepreneurs surround her. The bond she built with others over the years is priceless. She credits the support and resources that the program provided, put her in a position me “to win.” 

The impact the program has had allowed her to grow her business, which is now has an e-commerce website, social media platforms, and she has a trademark patent for Kenyan Kutie Jewelry from USPTO. 


Jones' academic power was reflected in that she made the Dean’s List every semester at UBalt. She is part of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Finalist in the 2023 Rise to the Challenge Pitch Competition. She won the $5,000 Dean’s Challenge Award, an award given to the competitor or competitors who best demonstrate the social impact of their venture(s) and she won the Crowd Favorite award. 


The other awardees at this year’s ceremony were: 

  • Yohannes Aytenfisu, B.S. in Business Administration, (finance major) B.S. ’23, Finance Merit Award 
  • Chanell Benn, B.S. in Business Administration, (accounting major) B.S. ’23, Gleim CPA Exam Review Scholarship 
  • Bekit Berhane, B.S. in Business Administration, (general business major) B.S. ’23, General Business Merit Award 
  • Sa’Kiara Hopkins, B.S. in Business Administration, (accounting major) B.S. ’23, Mary Lou Hudson Award for a Woman’s Academic Excellence in Accounting and she earned the Accounting Merit Award from the accounting faculty. 
  • Duran Kelly, B.S. in Business Administration, (real estate and economic development major) B.S. ’23, Real Estate and Economic Development Merit Award 
  • Graysen Muscalli, B.S. in Business Administration, (risk management and insurance major) B.S. ’23, Risk Management, and Insurance Merit Award 
  • Carlos Ramirez, B.S. in Business Administration, (marketing major) B.S. ’22, the Dr. Peter Lynagh Marketing Merit Award 
  • Tori Seilback, B.S. in Business Administration, (data analytics major) B.S. ’23, Data Analytics Merit Award 
  • Barbara Wilkins, B.S. in Information Systems and Technology Management, B.S. ’23, the Charles Siegmann Information Technology Award 
  • Na’Quon Willet, B.S. in Business Administration, (Ratcliffe Entrepreneurship Program) B.S. ’23, Entrepreneurship Merit Award 
  • Vincent Wright, B.S. in Business Administration, (management major) B.S. ’22, Management Merit Award 
  • Jacob Zimmerman, B.S. in Business Administration, (international business major) B.S. ’22, International Business Merit Award 

All these students are high achievers in the Merrick School of Business in their academic program or discipline. They were selected by faculty in each department who recognized their academic strengths. 


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