The Pioneering MBAs In The Class Of 2019

Alyssa Forman 

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Avid sports fan who loves to learn new things and explore new places

Hometown: Believeland (Cleveland, Ohio)

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am currently in my fourth year of a “50 Book per Year Reading Challenge”

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University, BA in Public Policy Studies and Global Health

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Kaiser Associates: Manager, Consultant, Analyst

Teach for America: Director of Special Education Department at UNO Rogers Park Charter School

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of the things I am most proud of is setting up and leading the special education department at a brand new charter school in Chicago. When I joined Teach for America, I was placed at a first year charter school, where I was responsible for setting up the special education department from scratch. As no one at my school had a background in special education and I was new to the field, I immediately sought out advice from special education teachers at other schools, graduate school professors, state representatives – anyone with experience to help launch the department. By working collaboratively with and learning from all of the stakeholders in the special education sphere, I set up the department and processes to ensure it met student needs. When the charter school network opened a high school a year later, they modeled the special education department off the one we had built.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  Applying to business school can be a long and stressful process, so find people who can go through it with you. I received the best advice and most support from peers going through the application process. If you don’t know anyone applying specifically to business school, see if you can find people going through any application process. They are likely facing similar pressures and will understand what you’re going through, so you can help each other get through it. Plus your friends and family will thank you for finding someone else with whom you can discuss applications (there is only so much they want to hear).

For your essays, find someone who knows you, but is not as familiar with the day-to-day of your job. They can read your essays for your voice and check to make sure you are not getting too technical when describing your professional experiences. Siblings can be a good option for this – my sister read my essays and was not afraid to call me out when something sounded forced or inauthentic.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Kellogg’s culture was the deciding factor for me. When I was doing research on schools, I read and heard a lot about the collaborative culture at Kellogg, but wanted to see for myself how real it was. When I visited campus for Day at Kellogg (Kellogg’s admitted students weekend), I was impressed by the sense of genuine camaraderie among my section leaders. They came from diverse backgrounds and had different interests at Kellogg, but had all taken the time to get to know each other in a meaningful way. And beyond that, they seemed to enjoy spending time together! I knew I wanted to join a business school culture where people took the time to get to know each other, valued teamwork, and had fun while doing it.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  I hope that after a year at Kellogg, I will be busy leading the social impact community, planning one of next year’s KWEST trips, and exploring Evanston and Chicago with Kellogg classmates. I would love to have an internship where I can combine my newly expanded private sector and business skills to tackle social impact challenges.