UMES nurtures Silicon Valley pipeline

  • Wednesday, November 2, 2016


    Christian Walston and Waunye Seawell were top performers in a CISCO sales competitionPRINCESS ANNE, MD  - (Nov. 2, 2016) - CISCO Systems Inc., a Fortune 500 Company, named UMES junior Waunye Seawell and senior Christian Walston, winners in the second annual CISCO Invitational Sales Competition at UMES.

    “This was a dynamic sales competition that challenged top university students to engage in a mock sales conversation with a potential customer,” said Dr. Theresa Queenan, director of UMES'  Career and Professional Development Center . “The process tested each student's ability to ask effective questions, build rapport with the client and identify the customers' business initiatives.” 

    Walston, 21, an engineering major from Crisfield, Md., will fly to Raleigh, N.C. to interview with the company for a potential position in sales or network engineering as his prize for winning the competition as a graduating senior.

    “Normally, I would have to pass about three interviews, but by winning the competition I get to skip to the front of the line,” Walston said. 

    Walston attributes his success to prep sessions held by last year's victor in the category for junior undergraduates,  Temi Okulate , and UMES representatives Dr. Bryant Mitchell, Dr. Monisha Das, Dr. Lei Zhang and Queenan. 

    “Most of us were nervous about the competition and stepping out of our comfort zone,” Walston said, “but the Cisco judges were impressed.  One told me that I performed as well as some who had come out of their training school.  It was a testament to how UMES has prepared us for the real world.”

    Walston isn't resting on his laurels, he's waiting to hear back from an interview with Orbital at NASA Wallops Island for a possible spring internship.

    What does he do in his spare time?  He races a 2013 Undercover Dragster at Delmar and regional racetracks, traveling as far as Tennessee.  The speedster finished second overall nationally for his age bracket when he was 18 and received the “Best Engineered Dragster” award Oct. 1 at the 2016 International Hot Rod Association Division 1 Bracket Finals at Maryland International Raceway in Mechanicsville, Md.

    The prize for Seawell's placing first in the category for juniors is a 10-week internship with the company in San Jose, Calif.  The 20-year-old computer science major from Baltimore hopes that like Okulate, who won the competition in 2015, he will be offered employment at the end of the summer.

    The recent experience, he said, “was kinda tough, but I got through it.” Seawell prepared by doing research on the company's products and services and through his student employment with UMES IT Department as a network technician.

    “During the competition, they would try to throw you off, but I got back on track by using the things I already knew, mainly from my work in IT,” Seawell said.  He survived by “being myself.”

    When not behind a computer, Seawell, 20, might be seen at center court at one of UMES' basketball games doing “animation.”

    “I've been doing it since high school and used to want to be a hip hop (as it is better known) performer once,” he said.  “Now I just do it for fun.”

    He's also a close personal friend of Harry The Hawk.

    “Waunye is a self-motivated individual who is always willing to jump in with any task and learn new technology which is an essential skill to have as far as IT support,” said Bill Premo, Seawell's supervisor in UMES' IT Department.  “He's very personable and has a great 'bedside manner' when providing support services.

    The university is among the first HBCUs to participate “in a competition of this magnitude,” Queenan said.  The mid-October competition was open to upperclassmen in UMES' business management and accountingengineering and aviation science and mathematics and computer science  departments.


     Gail Stephens, assistant director,  Office of Public Relations, (410) 651-6669