By Mataeo Smith
SUNY Plattsburgh marketing and entrepreneurship double major Olivia Forcino dreamed of owning an establishment since middle school. By high school, her vision matured into a concrete idea for a salon which she would name Liv or Dye. Forcino enrolled in cosmetology school and earned a certificate from Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services as a barber/styling and nail instructor two years later. The next step was to earn a bachelor’s in entrepreneurship, so Liv or Dye could become a reality. Relatives, who were SUNY Plattsburgh alumni advised her to look into the college. The school of business and economics was accredited by AACSB-International and not many colleges offered an entrepreneurship program. Getting accepted into SUNY Plattsburgh was the next step for success in the business world. However, Forcino discovered merging entrepreneurship with marketing paves a richer path to prosperity.
Last semester, Forcino began interning for Dr. Rowena Ortiz-Walters, dean of SBE. She created the SBE newsletter, Business Essentials, with the help of a former intern for the SBE dean. Business Essentials gathers business stories through SUNY plattsburgh alumni and the college’s branch campus in Queensbury, NY. and covers such topics like the re-branding of the hospitality management program.
“I had never done something like that before,” Forcino said.
Her internship with the SBE dean requires a lot of leg work. Forcino’s responsibilities include running SBE social media, presenting to the college president as a student ambassador of SBE at faculty meetings and seminars, which are deemed faculty only, creating newsletters, she is currently working on a second, and essentially being Ortiz-Walters’ “right-hand man.” One of her presentations pertained to SBE curriculum from a student’s perspective with the focus being hands-on learning. Her work with the dean alone has brought her closer to the SBE faculty whom she considers to be more than mentors.
“I’m definitely grateful for that,” Forcino said. “They are definitely family over there in Ausable.”
Entrepreneurship Department Chair Laurent Joisen met Forcino in his Entre 320 introductory course. Her willingness to ask questions in order to understand the material struck him. She yearned for the knowledge he was offering, so she could apply it later on and be successful.
“She had the willingness to work long hours and put in the time and effort,” Joisen said.
Joisen has given Forcino scholarship opportunities throughout her college career which she said has saved her a lot of tuition money. While speaking at an open-house seminar during the fall 2019 semester, Joisen gave a speech about awarding deserving students with scholarships. He then surprised Forcino with the Sean Mabey Excellence in Entrepreneurship scholarship in the amount of $2,500 in front of faculty and visitors.
“It was such a special moment, I actually started to cry in front of all those strangers, as well as the faculty,” Forcino said.
With accommodations from Joisen, and other SBE faculty, Forcino became a part of the SBE honor society Sigma Nu Tau.
After adding the marketing major, Forcino has created a more feasible plan for post graduation. She acknowledges the birth of “Liv or Dye” couldn’t happen right out of college, so she wants to use marketing and entrepreneurship to get into the beauty industry. By landing a marketing job, preferably within the beauty industry, Forcino could create connections with brands like L’oreal and Estee Lauder. The salon would open later after she has experience with their social media and branding.
Forcino is also certified as a social behavioral research investigator by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Program, a division of the Biomedical Research Alliance of NY by going to Canada to study marketing differences between itself and the United States for her international marketing class. She observed social behaviors of buyers in terms of high-end shopping in different locations.
“I tried on a $72,000 ring when I was in Vermont,” Forcino said. “I literally took a picture of it. It was sick.”
Responsibilities don’t interfere with Forcino’s social life. The former SUNY Plattsburgh kickline club captain made an impact on her teammates at every sporting event.
“When I first met her, I noticed her personality,” senior Siobhan Flanagan said. “She would help everyone who was having trouble with formations and boosted team morale.”
Flanagan bonded with Forcino over their shared hometown of Long Island. The two often watched movies together, which Flanagan recalls as the best memories.
“I’m going to be sad when she graduates,” Flanagan said. “I’m excited to see where she’s going.”
Entering the world of entrepreneurship means starting from scratch. Despite the common fear most graduating seniors have, which is no novelty to her, Forcino intends to get her name out there and impact anyone who hears it. SUNY Plattsburgh was her first victim.
“When I leave SUNY Plattsburgh this year, I hope there is a little legacy of me in the school of business,” Forcino said. “Hopefully the dean, maybe next year when she has a new intern, will say ‘I had Olivia last year.’ I just want to leave my mark.”