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Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Canton resident first graduate of HFCC’s International Business program

By Kurt Anthony Krug

Vanessa Barrios is the first student to graduate with an associate degree in International Business from HFCC. Barrios walked during commencement exercises in May.

Barrios, a Texas native who lives in Canton, graduated with honors and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society.

'I'm very honored and very proud. It's been a long road and I've come to a self-actualization point in my life. This is it--this is what I'm supposed to be doing. The fact that I'm the first to graduate from this program is fitting. I feel so comfortable now, like I'm home,' said Barrios.

She will continue her education at Eastern Michigan University this fall, studying Supply Chain Management. Her long-term goals include working for an international firm where she can use her bilingual skills (she speaks fluent Spanish) and travel extensively. 

The business field has always been the right fit for Barrios, who excelled while working in retail. When an opportunity arose to work at the Lane Bryant store in Ypsilanti, Barrios become the de factor leader of the guerilla marketing and promotions campaign for the store, exceeding daily sales and credit card goals. 

Given her natural aptitude for business and desire to learn more, she enrolled in business classes at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. One of the classes was taught by Doug Langs, who is now a highly regarded full-time instructor at HFCC. When Langs informed Barrios that he was going to be teaching in the International Business program at HFCC, she followed him.

'I was blessed with having good professors here at HFCC,' said Barrios. 'Professor Langs was very hands-on; he knows what he's doing. He is an excellent mentor and role model. To me, it felt like the program has been here forever.'

HFCC created the International Business Program in 2007 based on input from Elaine Saneske, associate dean of the Business and Economics Division, and Peter Badry, adjunct business instructor. The two discussed the creation of this program when they attended the 7th Biennial International Business Institute for Community College Faculty at Michigan State University in 2007. While attending the conference, they brainstormed ideas with 25-30 business faculty members from various community colleges.

Upon their return, the two revised their idea. After appropriate changes were made, the College Council approved the International Business program in December 2007. Courses were first offered in fall 2008.

The purpose of the International Business program is to prepare students for careers in international business and related fields in the world economy. This program of study emphasizes broad business knowledge with an understanding of how globalization integrates people, companies and governments of different nations. Students learn how to understand the impact of globalization on the environment, culture, political systems, economic development and prosperity, and societal well-being. Students examine the benefits and costs associated with globalization and the impact of international trade, foreign investment and information technology.

A total of 61 credits are required to graduate with an associate degree in International Business from HFCC. Some of the courses in the program include Principles of Accounting, Business Language Skills, Business Behavior and Communication, International Business, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and Business Law and the Legal Environment, to name a few. To learn more about the courses, please visit and pull down the menu titled Programs and Courses.

HFCC also has an articulation agreement with EMU, which allows 80-83 credit hours to transfer to EMU toward a bachelor degree in Business Administration.

'If I were entering college, I'd enroll in this program. This program is cutting edge because the world has become so globalized. I believe the program provides so much knowledge that any company--national or international--would want a graduate of HFCC's International Business program,' said Saneske.

'We are very proud of Vanessa and her accomplishment,' Langs said. 'She is an exceptional student who represents the future of HFCC.  We wish her much success and congratulate her on being the very first student at HFCC to earn an associate degree in International Business,' he concluded.