Whitman Voices


Alumni of the Week: Courtnee Futch ’15, ’16 MS

Alumni of the Week: Courtnee Futch ’15, ’16 MS

When people ask how I chose to attend Syracuse University all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, I tell them that “Syracuse happened to me, and then I happened to Syracuse.”

As a high school senior, I had applied to schools all along the East Coast. But 10 days before SU’s application deadline, my mom met a member of Syracuse University’s board of trustees, Anthony Fulton, at a networking event in downtown Atlanta.

He asked if she had any children, and she said that her 16-year-old daughter would be attending college in the fall. He asked if I would be interested in attending SU, so my mom called to ask me if I would consider applying. I was at home baking cupcakes to celebrate taking my last final. I wiped the batter off my hands and opened my laptop to look at this school I’d never heard of. I only had to look at the website one time, and I submitted my application that same evening.

Months later, I accepted my invitation to “bleed Orange” without even having visited campus. I just knew in my heart that I was meant to be a round citrus fruit. I joined the College of Arts and Sciences as a pre-med student before switching my major several times and finally falling in love with communication and rhetorical studies in my junior year.

But an alternate journey started one night in my BBB dorm room. Approaching the end of my second semester, I was working 20 hours a week at two different jobs and still only had $6.14 in my bank account. I had a small moment of panic, and I thought about things I could sell. Well, I’ve been baking since I was eight years old, and I had all the ingredients to whip something up in my dorm room fridge. So that’s exactly what I did. In under an hour, I had created a Facebook Group named ThunderCakes by Courtnee and added 300 university peers to it, immediately creating confusion. Those who knew me understood exactly what it was. Anyone who didn’t know me probably thought I was crazy. I remember people writing on the group wall asking, “What is this?” But 30 minutes later, I posted photos of my first “thunderous” creation… “Bacon Chocolate and Caramel Rice Krispie Treats.” An hour later, all 40 of the treats I made were sold out, and I just knew that I had something special there. I’ve been Thundering since.

In the process of chasing a dollar, I found that I actually had a passion for entrepreneurship. While pursuing a minor in technology, design and startups (IDS), Whitman’s EEE program and the Couri Hatchery took me in as family. I became a EEE case study, competed (and won) in several IDEA and Panasci Business competitions, and frequently spoke to classes about my unconventional journey. I decided to earn my master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the Whitman School.

Ultimately, I didn’t feel the desire to maintain my business, and wanting a change of scenery, I moved to New York to pursue a career in the food space. Always a student, I’ll be attending culinary school next January to propel my savory career in the professional culinary arts.

Courtnee Futch
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