Alumni Spotlight - Alanna Hirshman Keeler ’16 and Zach Keeler ’16

Apr 27, 2020 12:30 PM

eNews Alumni Spotlight highlights alumni who give back to Frostburg in some way – time, talent, treasure or any combination. This edition of eNews features Alanna Hirshman Keeler ’16 and Zach Keeler ’16, Ph.D. candidates at West Virginia State University.

Names: Alanna Hirshman ’16 and Zach Keeler ’16
Current City: Morgantown, W.Va.
Professions: Alanna: Doctoral candidate in the Department of Management at West Virginia University; Zach: Doctoral candidate in natural resource economics at WVU

Why do you love FSU?

Zach: The thing I love most about FSU is its sense of community. I have formed so many great relationships at FSU that will last a lifetime.

Alanna: I truly love Frostburg State University because of its welcoming culture and dedication to helping each student find their true purpose in life. I am extremely blessed for the countless opportunities that FSU provided me with. From traveling abroad to Ecuador and Uganda, being president of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Student Business Leadership Committee, and most importantly, introducing me to my amazing friends and inspiring professors. 

Why do you give back (time and/or treasure) to FSU?

Alanna: I give back to FSU via time because I love having an impact on the next generation of FSU students. I truly appreciate everything that FSU has given me, and I want the next generation of students to recognize and take advantage of these wonderful opportunities (i.e., scholarships, leadership positions, internships, studying abroad, future employment, etc.).

Zach: My FSU experience would not have been possible without the generosity of others. Therefore, I try to give back as much as possible so that the FSU community can have the same opportunities that I was blessed with. From mentoring students to supporting athletics, I have found that even the smallest contribution can have a huge impact.

What do you do for fun?

Zach: I love to go for walks on a nearby trail with my wife, Alanna, and our dog, Ellie Roo. Ellie Roo has a ton of energy, so these walks are usually very long and allow us to have some quality family time. I also enjoy anything sports related. Specifically, I enjoy watching and playing baseball, football, basketball and golf.

Alanna: In my free time, I love traveling! I have traveled to four continents and 11 countries. In addition, I enjoy painting, sports (go Nats!), watching movies and going on hikes with my husband and dog, Ellie Roo.

Tell us about a class or activity at FSU that has had a surprising effect on your life.

Alanna: There are four courses that really had a surprising impact on my life: Business Ethics with Dr. Evan Offstein, Strategic Management (capstone) with Dr. Amit Shah, Regional Economics with Dr. Anthony Stair and International Business with Dr. Jeff McClellan. Specifically, Business Ethics inspired my passion for understanding companies’ ethical dilemmas, Strategic Management motivated me to pursue graduate school, International Business fueled my love for traveling and Regional Economics introduced me to research. After walking out of each of these classes, I remember thinking, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” and so I have. Since I graduated from FSU in 2016, I have been working on my doctorate with a concentration in strategic management at WVU. 

Zach: During my senior year, I had the opportunity to join the President’s Leadership Circle. Along with the other roles/responsibilities associated with being a part of this group, we had the opportunity to take a life-changing trip to Uganda, Africa. While in Uganda, we engaged in leadership and service activities ranging from painting a maternity ward to teaching clean water and sanitation techniques to villages all over the country. These experiences have had an everlasting impact on my life.

Favorite movie?

Zach: My favorite movie is Inception! I know a lot of people have trouble following it, but anything with Leonardo DiCaprio in it is always a good movie.

Alanna: A favorite movie of mine is Freedom Writers. It is based on a true story about a high school teacher who truly impacts the lives of her students.

What is your favorite memory of your time as a Frostburg student?

Alanna: One of my favorite memories as a Frostburg student was studying abroad in Ecuador in 2014 and Uganda in 2016! These study-abroad trips allowed me to experience new cultures and truly opened my eyes to see how differently people live throughout the world. While in Ecuador, I was able to meet collectivistic business owners, try quwi (guinea pig) and went canyoning. While in Uganda, I was able to help renovate a maternity ward, have a baby named after me, try many new foods, and experienced an amazing safari and boat tour along the Nile River. Not only did both study-abroad opportunities nurture my love for traveling, but they also introduced me to lifelong friends whom I still keep in contact with. 

Zach: My favorite memory is when the baseball team went to the World Series in 2015. The whole season is something that I will never forget.

What is a cause dear to your heart?

Zach: A cause dear to my heart is the FSU Athletics Program. As a former member of the baseball team, I understand the impact that being a part of a team can have. Not only is there the benefit of being physically active, but being a part of a team also supports camaraderie and can help build the foundation of being a selfless and hard-working individual.

Alanna: A cause dear to my heart is the FSU’s Student Business Leadership Committee. This is truly a great organization that supports the next generation of business leaders!

Tell us about a person or persons from FSU who had an impact on your life.

Alanna: While numerous people at FSU have had an everlasting impact on my life, I would like to thank a few professors who truly motivated me to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a strategic management professor: Dr. Evan Offstein, Dr. Anthony Stair, Dr. Amit Shah, Dr. Jeff McClellan, Dr. Gloria Harrell-Cook and Dr. Ryan Kentrus. Thank you all for nurturing my passion for business and for motivating me to follow my dreams. I cannot thank you all enough for all that you have given me, and I truly wouldn’t be where I am without you. I aspire to give my students everything that you all have given me. 

Zach: There are so many people at FSU who have had a tremendous impact on my life. I would not be where I am today without Dr. Stair, Dr. Offstein, Dr. McClellan, Dr. Kentrus and Coach Guy Robertson, among others. The people of FSU provide a community that fosters personal, academic and professional growth that I will forever be grateful for.

Favorite comfort food?

Zach: Cheesy bread from Giannis!

Alanna: My comfort food is Maryland blue crabs and grilled corn on the cob with Old Bay. 

Favorite vacation spot?

Alanna: While I love traveling abroad to experience new vacation spots such as Aruba, Bermuda and the Bahamas, one of my favorite childhood vacation spots will always be Ocean City, Md.

Zach: I love going to the beach but I’m not picky on the exact location. As long as there are waves crashing and sand between my toes, I’m happy!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Zach: I have always had a fascination with real estate. In fact, most of my nights are spent watching HGTV. It is actually something that I would like to pursue in the future when the right opportunity presents itself.

Alanna: Honestly, I love my profession, and I could not imagine doing anything else.