Professor Joe Sulentic has created a classroom environment that many strive to achieve but fall short of.
By ANNA HOBART
(Quality of photos deteriorated after conversion to video)
IOWA CITY, IOWA – Joe Sulentic looked down the hallway to make sure nobody was coming and took the frisbee in his right hand and flung it down the hallway. The frisbee grazed the wall and Sulentic laughed.
Classrooms in college are always described as boring, lacking personal experience, and aren’t relevant to what students will do in their jobs after college. Some students skip class because they know that they can sleep in longer and don’t believe that the professor is interesting enough to keep them engaged.
After his undergraduate schooling, Sulentic moved to Europe for a few years and race cars, and then moved back to California, where he went to school as an undergrad at UCLA. He then hung around the beach for a year and decided to come back to Iowa on a whim.
While getting his MBA, Sulentic started his own business with the importation of Ferrari clothing. He was also employed by a formula one team. He got to travel the world and be around the cars he loved while he was going to school.
“I got to go to all the races and take care of their VIP’s, like the Italian grand prix, the French grand prix, the British grand prix, [and] the Monaco grand prix,” Sulentic said.
He then went to work in the international market and quickly learned that he could be making more than he did in his corporate job by just selling his t-shirts at races on the weekends.
“I realized that I was making more selling t-shirts in two weekends than I was working in a corporation for 50 weeks,” said Sulentic. “So I quit the corporate world.”
He has always had a passion for the Ferrari brand and continues to feed his passion by making connections wherever he is. He also keeps in touch with the company and is currently working with them on an aerodynamic ventilation unit for your home.
When Sulentic got bored a few years down the road after quitting his corporate job, he contacted a former professor who was then the Dean of the Tippie College of Business, Gary Fethke.
Sulentic asked if Fethke needed any help with research. Fethke’s response; He could actually come back to The University of Iowa and become a professor of entrepreneurship. At this time the entrepreneurial center was just starting up.
IDV on Sulentic’s Inspiration and Recommendation.
Once Sulentic got back to Iowa and began lecturing he made an impression on students that a lot hope to get out of a professor during college. He gives students opportunities and experiences that help them with future endeavors and their resumes. One of these students was Haley Carroll.
“Whenever I left his class I felt really good about myself. I felt like I could do things with my life and change the world,” Carroll said. “I [also] ended up learning a lot of life lessons from his class.”
A colleague who met Sulentic at The University of Iowa about six years ago believes that he has added a lot to the Pappajohn Business Building, Richard McCarty.
“I think he’s very, very good for the entrepreneurial program. He just has a good style that he connects with the students,” McCarty said.
When September 11 happened Sulentic walked into class and told his students that what they were learning wasn’t relevant. He asked his students what they could do. One said that the Governor told people that if they want to help they need to come to Ground Zero.
His class then devised a plan to raise money and travel to New York to help clean up. Even after The University told him not to, Sulentic went forward with the project because his students and himself were so passionate about completing the mission that they started.
IDV on Sulentic’s Student Age Group.
Most recently a former student that took Sulentic’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation class, Chris Terukina, won money from a business plan competition to continue on his new venture.
Terukina took a six year break from college after realizing that he wasn’t doing well in school. After those six years he came back with a new attitude, a new marriage, and new found excitement for college and learning. One of his first classes was with Sulentic and he found passion in his classroom that he felt for his new education.
“I was excited to be back in school, and I was a little nervous at the same time,” Terukina said. “But I knew I wanted to get into entrepreneurship, and the way [Professor Sulentic] presented it in class was just really engaging.”
While taking Sulentic’s class Terukina started writing up a business plan and taking it into Sulentic’s office to discuss it and refine it before the competition. Terukina entered the business plan competition with his families barbecue sauce and his personal brand that explains who he is and what he wants his product to embody.
“The way I defined my brand was passion, integrity and ohana, which is the Hawaiian word for family,” Terukina said.
Sulentic helped Terukina view his education from a different perspective. He found, after taking Sulentic’s course, that he could use this class further on down the road and that he could make a career out of being an entrepreneur.
This story and many more come up during Sulentic’s classes. Stories of students getting their dream internships with Marc Jacobs, being invited to be a member of Lady Gaga’s crew and traveling with her on tours, and creating their own road trip business.
These stories are one of the ways that Sulentic tries to show people that getting out of your comfort zone and taking leaps can foster amazing results and opportunities that could change ones life.
Whether it be environmentally, mentally, or physically, Sulentic has helped past, present, and most certainly his future students to make a change.
IDV on Sulentic’s Teaching Rating.
Over 100 students took a survey on Sulentic’s presence and the way that he has inspired them this semester. The following students expressed how their professor has influenced them.
Max Vykouk said, “He made me realize turning an idea into a reality is not as hard or far out of reach as people think.”
Tatum Miller said, “Professor Sulentic has inspired me to take risks and step outside my comfort zone. His incredible willingness to help his students is unlike any other professor I have ever met.
Angie Rinn said, “He has motivated me to find my personal brand, take risks, and be the best that I can be.”
Stevie Rinn said, “He has inspired me to work on my brand, constantly work to get better and keep networking.”
Kate Cherven said, “He has inspired me to be more active and understand myself and my goals in order to gain the job and lifestyle I want.”
Kirstin McCoy said, “He has made me more conscious of the environment and made me want to make more of an effort to help others.”
Michael Whetstone said, “He taught me to look for opportunities to better my network and myself. He has a ‘go-getter’ attitude, and that is contagious.”