A traveler at heart, Anke Stugk is always moving towards the next goal. From traveling throughout Europe, to moving to the United States, to redirecting her focus on advancing her career goals, she is determined to make it to the next step.
“If a degree is something you need to reach your goal, do it and make sure you do it right the first time,” Stugk said.
Born in Markranstädt, Germany, Stugk grew up in East Germany during the Cold War, limiting her ability to travel much as a young child.
“When I was little, I had a glass globe in my room. At 7 years old, I spun it, closed my eyes, and my finger landed on Florida. I told myself, ‘that is where I’m going to live,’” she said.
Prior to making that fantasy a reality, Stugk spent several years working in hospitality management. From traveling to various hotels serving as a software installer to working on a river cruise boat that traveled along the Danube, she was working towards her goal of traveling the world.
However, on August 18, 2004, life changed. Although not giving up on her goal, Stugk was now living in the United States, in Florida, just as she predicted at 7 years old. Living in Miami for a brief period, she moved to the Naples area to provide a safer environment for her 2-year-old son.
Needing a job to help support him, she worked as the assistant manager for a condominium company on Marco Island. However, during her job search, she discovered many of the positions required an associate degree. Setting this as her next goal, she said, “I told myself if a degree is what I need to get a job, then I’ll get a degree.”
Looking for a school that provided the flexibility she needed to take care of her son, work full time and take classes online, she enrolled in Hodges’ interdisciplinary studies program on the same day she came to the U.S. the previous year, August 18, 2005. Spending one semester in the program, she changed her major, saying, “I had contacts with different companies and people in the hospitality management industry. I wanted a degree I could take with me anywhere and would transfer across industries.”
Prior to earning her associate degree, she discovered many of the jobs now required a bachelor’s degree. Wasting no time, she enrolled in the business administration program at Hodges and minored in finance and economics. In summer 2007, she accepted a work-study position with Dr. Aysegul Timur, who was a professor and program chair in the Johnson School of Business at the time. Assisting with community outreach research, one of Stugk’s first published projects, as a research assistant, was a study titled, “Demographic and Economic Indicators of the Hispanic Communities in Lee and Collier Counties,” which was published in September 2009.
“Aysegul has many roles in my life. She’s not only been my professor and my boss, but she is my mentor and friend,” said Stugk. “She and the rest of us [business school faculty] want to be happy, so we work together, and it is truly a collaborative effort.”
Graduating with her bachelor’s in 2009, she went on to pursue her MBA while continuing to serve as Timur’s work-study. In 2010, she became a full-time assistant to the dean of the School of Professional Studies and part-time faculty member.
She earned her MBA in 2011, and in 2012, she enrolled at Northcentral University to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in business administration with specialization in financial management, which she is now in the dissertation phase. “I love learning. School is my hobby, and it is enjoyable when I’m able to study things I am interested in,” said Stugk.
Becoming an integral part of the Hodges family, Stugk became a full-time assistant professor in 2013 before accepting the position of vice chair of business administration in 2015 and eventually, program chair of business administration in June 2016.
“I view myself as a facilitator in getting students from A to B,” she explained. “I’m here to help them make the connection between the textbook and the real world.”
While some students may not enjoy watching the news, Stugk finds it to be an important aspect of learning about business, finance and the economy. From local to international, she expects her students to watch, listen and read the news to understand the decisions businesses must make every day.
“News is a great way for students to make connections to what they are learning in class. Students must learn why the course materials are important. You don’t just study to complete a class, you study and learn to apply business skills and knowledge when making decisions in your professional career,” she said.
Working collaboratively with Timur and other members of the Johnson School of Business, Stugk reviews and adjusts the curriculum based on workforce needs. While it may not be a complete change in the types of courses, Stugk explains, it may be a “change in how to present the information or making changes to the hands-on activities presented in the classroom.”
Between her responsibilities as a mother, student, teacher and administrator, Stugk continues to set her goals high. After earning her doctorate, she admits, “I want to do more quantitative research. I’m interested in risk management, mergers and acquisitions, and assessing imports and exports from a financial aspect.”
“The way I look at it is if you set your goals high and you don’t quite reach them, you’ve still done a great job. If you set them low and still don’t reach them, that’s not good,” she said. Only time will tell if she reaches her ultimate goal of retiring in Madagascar.