She’s not gracefully gliding and leaping across the ice in front of international audiences anymore, but Maria Tsakiris, once an Olympic hopeful, is finding that her figure skating background is giving her a cutting edge in the business world.
“To be in the financial industry, you have to be competitive and you have to be able to connect with people on a personal level,” says Tsakiris, a finance major at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden. “I can really relate that to my figure skating experience because whenever I stepped out on the ice, I had to make a connection with the audience.”
Tsakiris, a Cherry Hill native and 2011 graduate of Cherry Hill High School East, skated competitively for Greece in junior grand prix events all over the world while she was in high school. Competitions took her to France, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Croatia, and she also skated during international and domestic exhibitions, including performances at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Tsakiris began figure skating when she was seven years old and, since her father, Fotis Tsakiris, was born in Greece, she had the opportunity to skate for Greece during international competitions.
“It was the most amazing experience to step out on the ice and hear my name announced as a representative of Greece,” Tsakiris says. “It was a lot of pressure, too, which helped build up my confidence.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I fell on the same jump, over and over again, but I kept doing it until I landed it,” she explains. “It taught be a lot about perseverance.”
Tsakiris, who will graduate in May from the Rutgers School of Business–Camden, says she aspired to compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, but she was forced to stop competing for Greece due financial constraints of the country’s figure skating federation.
Placing her figure skating career aside, Tsakiris came to Rutgers University–Camden to pursue another love: business.
“I always knew I wanted to be a businesswoman and Rutgers–Camden seemed like the best place to pursue that goal,” says Tsakiris, whose mother, Monica Tsakiris, is a Rutgers–Camden graduate.
Tsakiris is currently working at Morgan Stanley as a wealth management intern and hopes to work as a financial planner. She also isn’t ruling out the possibility of working in international business or pursuing her master’s degree in business administration.
During the commencement exercises for the Rutgers School of Business–Camden on May 21, Tsakiris will address her fellow classmates as the undergraduate student speaker. She was chosen for the opportunity by Rutgers–Camden business school faculty members.
“This is a real honor for me,” Tsakiris says. “Rutgers–Camden has prepared us in so many ways to achieve anything we want to achieve. My time at Rutgers–Camden has shaped me into the person I am now.”