2018 Best MBAs: Clayton Cooper, Penn State University (Smeal)

Clayton Cooper

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

“Future family physician and leader, striving to improve the lives and communities around me.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Hummelstown, PA

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve climbed to the summit of Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanos on earth.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BS, Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA,

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Penn State College of Medicine

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Penn State Health, State College, PA.

Where will you be working after graduation? Family Medicine Residency, location to be determined in National Residency Match in March 2018.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Smeal College of Business Penn State Dance Marathon Dancer, Member of Smeal Honor and Integrity Committee, Member of Penn State Smeal MBA Association

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Representing Smeal College of Business in Penn State Dance Marathon, a 46-hour no sitting or sleeping dance marathon to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund and pediatric oncology patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Founding LionCare Tyrone, a student-run free medical clinic in Tyrone, PA. The doors opened in March 2016 after nine months of planning, and the clinic continues to see new and return patients without other access to healthcare each month for acute and primary care health needs.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Keith Crocker, Ph.D. Professor Crocker used his personal stories from growing up on a farm and taking his harvest to the grain elevator to illustrate microeconomic topics. His experience, insight, unique teaching style and humor make him an extremely effective teacher and admirable role model.

What was your favorite MBA Course Power and Influence by Professor Vilmos Misangyi. This course taught me how to appreciate and create power between individuals and organizations. In medicine, hierarchy and power dynamics are clearly evident even in the length of a white coat, yet one can overcome these historical hierarchies if they realize their own strengths relative to the needs of others to build their power base.

Why did you choose this business school? Smeal offered a dual MD/MBA program through Penn State Hershey. It has condensed six years of school into five without cutting any corners in either program. It is intense, but extremely rewarding. Additionally, Smeal has a huge emphasis on team learning, and they intentionally create teams with diverse members. This allowed us to not focus on our strengths, but on our weaknesses in our teamwork to grow the most out of our work.

 What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Understand how important the culture is to Smeal MBA program. Make sure you are a good fit for the program, and it is the right fit for you.

 What is the biggest myth about your school? Everyone completes a supply chain concentration

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not taking more finance and supply chain classes.

 Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Maegan Blane. She came from an atypical arts background and has worked extremely hard. She is not only business smart, but she has a glowing personality that has shaped the culture of our program.

 Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Wanda Filer, MD, MBA. She is a family physician and past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She is eloquent, thinks outside of the box, and is an incredible spokesperson for family physicians. When I realized that in order be the best advocate I can be for my patients, I would need to make the business case for health policy change, and that I knew nothing about business, Wanda encouraged me to pursue an MBA for the same reason she did – to add more tools to her toolbox to be the best physician and advocate she could be for her patients.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a first year family physician resident without any business knowledge and a limited ability to enact larger-scale changes in our broken health system.”

 If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would put less emphasis on students working for Fortune 500 companies and encourage more social entrepreneurship so our students could improve more lives in the US and abroad through their business knowledge.

 What are the top two items on your bucket list? Become the kind of father my dad was to me, and to find a career I love so much I never “work” a day in my life.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as an outside-the-box thinker who cares about the people and world around me.

What would your theme song be? You’ve got a Friend, James Taylor

Favorite vacation spot: Stone Harbor, NJ

Hobbies?: Running, biking, skiing, hiking, brewing and trying new beers, wine tasting, traveling, cooking, grocery shopping with my grandma (whenever I’m visiting home).

What made Clayton ‘Clay’ Cooper such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Clay brings an amazing passion to everything he does. This is evidenced by his high-impact leadership skills in founding LionCare Tyrone, a student-run free medical clinic in Tyrone, PA. This experience speaks well of Clay’s commitment to the service of others by bringing much needed healthcare to a community with very little resources in that the need greatly outpaced. This also speaks well of his collaborative nature in bringing together the many partners that made this venture possible.

Clay has always been a very valued member of his team and a friend to all. His integrity is evident in his daily actions, he is a well-respected member of both the medical and the MBA communities. His vision is amazing when he looks to the future; he should have every confidence in his abilities to enact larger-scale changes in our health system. Just as with his climb to the summit of Cotopaxi, our healthcare system will be his next summit.

In being successful at leaving this world better than he found it, Clay has taken every opportunity to gain the needed skillset as evidenced by his joint MD and MBA degrees—he graduates from both programs this May 2018. I believe he will be one among a unique group of people who truly can and do make a difference for the betterment of humankind.

I have had the unique opportunity to work with Clay over the past several years in both the MD and the MBA degree programs. I had been the Curriculum Operations Manager with Penn State College of Medicine prior to my current role as Director of Student Services with the MBA program. Clay and I both started the MBA program together. He will be truly missed and knowing Clay, he will stay connected. I have no doubt that he will pay this time forward through his willingness to help mentor future students along their journey in the MBA program and beyond.”


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