“Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” The phrase is often attributed to author and newspaper editor Horace Greeley during America's expansion westward. For Pamplin College of Business senior Michael Bunting, the quote reflected something more personal.

Growing up in a family of six, Bunting was eager to carve out his “own little atmosphere” at college. With one brother attending the University of Virginia and another at James Madison University, the Chesapeake native “wanted to be able to figure things out for me.”

His journey of self-discovery led him to the moutains of Southwest Virginia and the campus of Virginia Tech. “I was drawn to the mountains in Blacksburg,” said Bunting. “I’ve always been more of a mountain guy, and I really think Blacksburg was the perfect place for me. I remember seeing the architecture for the first time and thinking, ‘This place is awesome.’”

Now, just days away from graduation, Bunting, a finance major, finds himself heading even farther west to a different range of mountains. He has accepted an offer from Amazon's Operations Finance Rotation Program and will spend his first rotation working at an Amazon fulfillment center in Denver.

Participants in the rotation program spend their first year at an Amazon fulfillment center supporting site finance and learning the business from the ground up. Bunting hopes that his time in Denver will mark the beginning of a long and storied career with the multinational tech company.

“In five to 10 years I want to be working in a corporate role at Amazon,” he said.

After his Denver rotation ends, Bunting will transfer to Amazon corporate headquarters in Seattle, where he will focus on centralized elements of Amazon’s supply chain model.

Though Bunting may have his career sights set on Seattle, he is still receiving recognition for his academic success in Blacksburg. He was recently awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Medallion, which is presented by the Virginia Tech chapter of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi to an outstanding undergraduate student from each college at Virginia Tech. The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi describes itself as “the nation's oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society” and honors high-achieving students and alumni.

Bunting credits many of his academic and co-curricular accomplishments to the personal relationships he was able to build with his fellow Pamplin students. These relationships go as far back as his first year in college and have proven to be instrumental in his success both inside and outside of the classroom.

“I joined a business fraternity, Sigma Omega Upsilon, my freshman year and many of my best friends have come from there,” Bunting said. “Being able to have those friends and build those connections has certainly been impactful for me.”

Bunting reflected on how, during his first year, he met a senior through his business fraternity. A few years later this senior, now an alumnus, gave Bunting a strong reference that enabled him to acquire a coveted internship with Fannie Mae. That internship ultimately helped Bunting get hired by Amazon.

“I met this person when I was a freshman in college,” he said. “Beginning those connections and meeting those friends early is something that can help you, not just while you are at Virginia Tech, but long after you graduate as well.”

Investing in people to help them pursue their dreams continues to drive Bunting academically, professionally, and personally. That’s why he began studying finance.

“I want to give people the opportunity to have the financial tools and assets they need to accomplish their goals and be able to follow their dreams,” he said. “I don't think that capital should be a thing that's preventing someone from trying to do something that they think can make a positive impact on the world.”

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