Feature Stories Alumni: Silavong Phimmasone ’19: A Jack of all trades champions versatility

CCB alum in CCB
Phimmasone maintains a connection to his alma mater by giving back his time at on-campus events.
Feature Stories Alumni: Silavong Phimmasone ’19: A Jack of all trades champions versatility
Silavong Phimmasone ’19: A Jack of all trades champions versatility

Former UMass Dartmouth Student Trustee and 2019 Commencement speaker “embraced the suck” to jumpstart his career and climb up the Citizens Bank food chain.

UMass Dartmouth is a long way from where Silavong Phimmasone ’19 grew up, both in distance and in opportunity. His transition from Springfield, MA to higher education symbolized not just a geographical move, but a significant leap toward realizing his untapped potential and living his family’s dreams.

Driven by the legacy of his parents’ immigration to the United States, Phimmasone felt an urgency to succeed both inside the classroom and out. Their journey, beginning with nothing but hope for a brighter future, instilled in him a deep desire to make them proud and honor the sacrifices they made for him.

As a first-generation college student, Phimmasone poured himself into his studies and work, pushing the boundaries of his capabilities. Upon his arrival at UMass Dartmouth, he began his studies in business management out of the Charlton College of Business while maintaining a minimum of two part-time jobs and a work-study on campus to provide for himself and his family.

When he struggled to find balance between school and work, Phimmasone was met with empathetic support from faculty members like Dr. Jacqueline Einstein and Konrad Jamro. He said, “I didn’t have the bandwidth to actually do the school work because I’m pumping out 60-hour work weeks. I was trying to keep my head above water while also trying to be a good student. They knew my situation and gave me the flexibility that I needed to succeed.”

Having developed a stellar reputation on campus and long-lasting connections within the UMassD community, Phimmasone was invited to attend the State of the University Address by Marty Meehan, the President of the University of Massachusetts system, at the UMass Club during his junior year. It was here that he witnessed the transformative power of higher education and the endless possibilities he’ll have at his fingertips once he has his diploma in hand.

“It was the first time I was in a fancy building in downtown Boston, and I was in shock and awe meeting titans of industry,” Phimmasone said. “As a student working my way through school and providing for my family, that was the first time I saw the true kind of economic mobility that higher education can afford someone.”

At Commencement ceremony
Phimmasone at UMass Dartmouth's 2019 Commencement ceremony.

By his senior year, Phimmasone was elected to be UMass Dartmouth’s Student Trustee to represent the interests of the campus community and offer a student’s perspective on university operations. He was also chosen to be the Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2019, delivering motivational comments that struck a chord with every graduate.

Undoubtedly, Phimmasone wore many hats while at UMass Dartmouth. On taking AACSB-accredited courses across different disciplines that encompass all areas of business and working around the clock to make ends meet for himself and his family, he said, “I’ve always worn different hats in life, but this showed me that you have to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, which is oftentimes better than a master of one. I took that into my career when I started at Citizens Bank.”

Chasing success & inspiring others

It wasn’t Phimmasone’s dream to work in the banking industry, but it was destiny when he met a recruiter for Citizens Bank at UMass Dartmouth’s Campus Center. Having worked at the Citizens Bank branch inside the Stop & Shop in Fairhaven, MA, he was already familiar with the bank as a fixture in his workplace, which felt a lot like fate.

Phimmasone began his professional career working in the contact center for student lending. Freshly graduated from a higher education institution, he understood the negative connotation behind student loans and educated clients on how to perceive them as a tool of empowerment instead of an anchor of hindrance.

“The reality is that, with proper education on your payment and understanding what the actual cost is over four years, student loans can be a legitimate tool for social and economic mobility. It’s like a passport to another life,” said Phimmasone.

Now, Phimmasone is the Assistant Vice President, Citizens Pay Partnership Manager, and he still uses skills from all of those “hats” that he wore at UMass Dartmouth in his day-to-day life. He explained, “I have to touch different businesses in my role as Partnership Manager. I look at marketing initiatives, credit optimization, operations, the day-to-day functions of business execution and long-term strategy.”

At Senior Shift
Phimmasone returns to campus for events like Senior Shift, where he can dish out helpful advice to current students.

Phimmasone hasn’t lost touch with his alma mater. Rather, his connection to Ring Road has only flourished since departing due to his consistent attendance at events like Senior Shift, an annual student-alumni networking event hosted on campus that enhances students’ career readiness.

“I’m still trying to find my way in the world, and I’m very conscious of all of the help that I’ve received,” Phimmasone explained. “It’s almost like my responsibility to steward the profession. It’s also nice to return to the place that grounded and supported me. It’s part of understanding that you’re still part of the university.”

This sentiment also extends to his involvement with non-profit organization, Follow My Steps Foundation, Inc., as Chief Operations Officer. Founded by fellow UMass Dartmouth alumni KaShawn Sanders ’16 and Tyrone Williams ’17, MBA ’18, Follow My Steps provides mentorship, career skills, and financial resources to youth in under resourced communities.

Phimmasone still has plenty of track left to run in his career, and he’s motivated by what he doesn’t already know, eager to collect more hats in his pursuit of success. Guided by his parents’ hopes and aspirations for him and an extraordinary UMass Dartmouth education, he’s proven himself a jack of all trades and recognizes the quest of mastery that still lies ahead.