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Montclair Football Stars Score Big in Business

Graduate Spotlight: For student athletes Nicholas Burgess and Cameron Siebert, the next big plays are their MBAs

Posted in: Athletics, Business, Homepage News, University

A Montclair football player, #0, is hyped up by a crowd of fans.
Nicholas Burgess means business on and off the field, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management on his way to an MBA. (Photo by Matt Deluca)

Two Montclair State University football players who command attention on the field will shine at Commencement 2024 on May 13 when they both receive undergraduate degrees from the Feliciano School of Business. The two student athletes are part of the 4+1 Bachelor’s/MBA program, one of Montclair’s 80 combined programs that allow students to earn two degrees in five years.

Red Hawk football captain Nicholas Burgess, aka “Agent 0” because of his uniform number, and offensive lineman Cameron Siebert, #64, will receive Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Management and Accounting, respectively. They’ll both return to campus this summer to work on their MBAs.

Nicholas Burgess
Football captain Nicholas Burgess means business when it comes to academics. (Photo courtesy of the Feliciano School of Business)

Managing his business

With Burgess’ selection as New Jersey Athletic Conference [NJAC]’s 2023 Defensive Player of the Year, All-Region, All-District and All-Conference one might think that football is his Plan A. It’s definitely his Plan B.

Plan A has always been getting an MBA and working in finance. “I love football, but I never had a dream of playing pro football,” he says. Still, Burgess plans to participate in next year’s NJAC pro-scout day and “if that opportunity shows up, I’ll commit to it. If not, I’m OK with my football career.”

It’s not surprising given that Burgess was named NJAC’s Academic Athlete of the Year.

But first, he’ll take care of business. “I’ve always wanted to get an MBA, regardless of the timeline,” Burgess says. “For me to be able to do it while doing my undergrad degree, and then be able to finish it within a year is everything you could ask for. The program is everything and more.”

Burgess credits academic advisors with making sure that students “are on top of our stuff. We’re learning more about the professional world and general business, and then you’re able to see how your undergrad experience applies to your graduate school experience.”

But those who know Burgess credit his accomplishments on his hard work and determination.

“Everything he does, he does it 100%, whether it’s football, his internship or his classes,” says Head Football Coach Mike Palazzo. “He cares. There’s nobody on this team or who knows Nick who can say he doesn’t care about, not only his success, but the team’s success.” 

Management Instructional Specialist Lisa Brooks Greaux has taught Burgess in four business classes the past two years and gives him high praise. “Nicholas sits in the front row, dead center, and he’s always paying attention, always taking notes, always asking questions, but the interesting thing about him, probably because he’s also captain of the football team, is that he engages the rest of the class,” she says. “So, he actually raises the bar for the rest of the class, by his participation and by his presence. 

Because of his success juggling academics, football and an internship at the financial firm Morgan Stanley, Burgess was featured in an award-winning, eight-minute YouTube video titled A Day in the Life of Nicholas Burgess, Feliciano School of Business Student about the star student’s athleticism, passion and legacy. In it, his parents Silas and Nickia Burgess say he’s worked hard and been successful as both a student and an athlete.

In the video, football teammate Mason Murdock shares that he admires Burgess’ time management skills. “I don’t know how he does it, working 30 hours a week, taking 18 credits and being a captain on the football team,” he says, “and he still finds time for extracurriculars. It’s insane.”

Burgess acknowledges that “it’s not an easy balance,” but says he learned time management from his parents and at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, an all-boys Catholic school, before moving to Hackensack, New Jersey.

“I’m always searching for more things to accomplish,” Burgess says. “My biggest thing with that is just being intentional. Everything I do has to allow for my goals.”

Burgess is looking forward to marking his graduation with his extended family but he’s especially looking forward to the celebration that accompanies Commencement. His 2020 graduation from Cardinal Hayes was held on YouTube. “They gave students their flowers but we didn’t get to experience it together,” he says. “I’m looking forward to just the atmosphere and just being a part of a graduation finally, after a long four years … being joyful and experiencing all of that with my family.”

Cameron Siebert
Red Hawk football player Cameron Siebert will be a first-generation college graduate, earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. (Photo by Lors Photography)

Scoring a first-generation degree

Siebert also had a COVID-19 ceremony for his high school graduation and is looking forward to Commencement. His parents, grandparents and aunts will be on hand to celebrate that he’s the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Although Siebert was undecided on a major when he entered Montclair, he chose the 4+1 MBA program. “The opportunity came that I could do that and also play that fifth year of football, so it just made sense,” says Siebert, who also worked part time managing a recreational basketball team in Pequannock Township, New Jersey.

After acquiring his MBA, Siebert says, “I want to go into business to do project management or sports management.”

Associate Business Management Professor Te Wu had Seibert in his Project Management class. “Cameron performed very well, earning 950 points [out of 1,000 points for the class]. This is a solid A. A strong student, he regularly participated in class and asked ‘smart’ questions. For his research paper, he wrote an insightful report about the SoFi Stadium and its construction. It was a pleasure having Cameron in my class.”

Both Siebert and Burgess are committed leaders, albeit with different styles. They always show up, despite their busy schedules. “Cam is a quiet leader on the team. He doesn’t have to say much but he leads by example. He hasn’t missed a practice or workout session in four years, and he does the extra things that show he’s extremely dedicated to the team,” Palazzo says. “He’s an impressive student because, much like Nick, he’s able to be a 4+1 student and you wouldn’t even know he has a heavy workload. He is very good at managing his time.”

Palazzo is always happy to see his players graduate. Noting that Montclair is “not a football factory, churning out pro players,” the coach says he has one goal: “To get these guys to graduate and get a degree and get a job.”

Meanwhile, he’ll gladly welcome back both players for a fifth year of football. “Both Nick and Cam are leaders of the program,” Palazzo says. “They are great role models for the rest of our team and future Red Hawks.”

Red Hawks offensive lineman Cameron Siebert stands midfield.
Offensive lineman Cameron Siebert is looking forward to a fifth year of football while he works toward his MBA. (Photo by Matt Deluca)

Story by Staff Writer Sylvia A. Martinez.


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