Student Spotlight: Stephen Listak

Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.  I went to the University of Pittsburgh for a dual major in History and Political Science and have an Associates in Accounting from the Community College of Allegheny County.  The work experience I hold most dear is the time I spent at two start-ups. The flexibility and drive that is required to work in the start-up environment has taught me a lot about company culture, being flexible, and the importance of attitude in the workplace. 

I have always had a penchant for the woods, gardening, and nature. Bird watching and gardening without chemicals have been great passions of mine since I was a child.  It was not until I found the MBA in Sustainability that I felt driven to advance my education and pursue my passion.  My career goal coming out of Duquesne is to feel empowered in a non-profit, maybe working somewhere to help wildlife or in the production of sustainable, organic coffee – knowing when I go to work every day, I am moving the NGO in the right direction.

What is one of your favorite things to do in Pittsburgh?
My father started taking me to The Strip District before I was 10 and little of it has changed since then.  Now that I live 5 minutes from there, it is nice to go more often and shop for dinners during the week.

What could you give a 30-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
The Blues.  If you listen to any rock since the 1950s, you should know the name of Robert Johnson.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Chang Mai, Thailand.  I spent five days there during their water festival.  The whole city shuts down and has a city-wide water fight for three days.  It is an unforgettable experience.

Where would you spend all of your time if you could?
The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.  It is a jungle paradise with more birds and monkeys than anyone could dream of seeing.

Who inspires you to be better?
My wife.  She makes me want to be a better person every day and I would not be in graduate school without her.