“I am an unapologetic life lover using faith & creativity to change the world.”
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I lived in Cuba during the embargo.
Undergraduate School and Major: New York University – Sociology/Pre-med concentration
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Hirtle Callaghan & Co., Executive Assistant to the CEO
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Having the courage and faith to stand tall in my purpose has been the most rewarding moment of my career so far. Two years ago, I founded RootsxWings Digital, a digital media company to celebrate the diversity of teen girls of the African diaspora and integrate their ideas and values into mainstream culture.
As a little Black girl obsessed with biomedical sciences, ancient Egypt, fine arts, and ballet, I was unable to reconcile who I understood myself to be with the monolithic image that society painted. I simply did not see people who looked like me highlighted in society and media. Not because there weren’t others like me, but because our true narratives weren’t told. While we have made some strides in representation within the media and entertainment industry, we are still hitting milestones that show we have a ways to go.
Being able to create a vehicle for girls across the African Diaspora to see themselves and build a community through original written and video content means I get to be at the frontline of the change that I want to see. RootsxWings, for me, is more than a business venture; it is my legacy and statement to the world that WE ALL have a unique story that deserves to be shared and acknowledged.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Family. I moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia a little over a month ago, leaving my close friends and family on the east coast. While I eagerly welcome new experiences, my friends and family are my heartbeat, so this transition did not come without challenges and adjustments to my new home. That quickly changed when I arrived on campus for orientation and ran into the new buddies I made during Admit Weekend and my Consortium crew. Fast forward to one-and-a-half weeks into our program and we are laughing, learning, struggling and growing together. We’re celebrating weddings, internship offers and have already planned a big family-style trip to Vegas for an unforgettable triple milestone birthday celebration.
Aside from your classmates, 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? I chose Marshall because of its highly regarded Trojan Network. As an entrepreneur, social capital will for sure be one of my largest assets. It was important to me that I came to a school where I could tap into a diverse knowledge pool from my peers and predecessors as I advance in my personal and professional development. Additionally, the extensive SC network would provide me with continuous learning opportunities as a mentor and mentee.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Each year the USC Black Alumni Association ceremoniously welcomes Black graduate students across the university with a pinning ceremony as a symbolic passing of the torch and act that exclaims, “We see you and are here with and for you.” As a first-generation Black female graduate student and east coast transplant, I am excited to be rooted in another aspect of the Trojan family that will support and reaffirm me as I navigate unknown territory.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Over the last six years I developed efficient processes and strategic solutions for CEOs of investment management firms. I gained significant exposure to complex business leadership and organizational strategy and enjoyed using my social science and analytical background to strategically manage the executive office. After a few years, however, I felt like I had lost sight of my social commitment.
Hoping to reconnect, I joined iMentor as a college prep mentor where we used an online platform to supplement our traditional meetings. My time with them reinvigorated my passion for innovation and advocacy for overlooked populations. I began contemplating ways I might be able to use tech to scale mentorship and advocacy and created RootsxWings Digital to leverage digital media and social networks to build supportive communities and curate authentic narratives for young women of color.
Today, I am working to build my brand and grow a digital media business that in a few tomorrows will become a global mass media company. I am pursuing an MBA to complement my knowledge with the technical, quantitative toolset that will help me synthesize my ideas into measurable, easily integrated solutions and serve as an effective, global leader.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I’ve always viewed education as an invaluable asset with infinitesimal growth. When I decided that an MBA was the next best step for me, I honestly did not question value of the investment. How I would pay for it and support myself while in school were my biggest questions? I did an analysis of the skills that I currently have, my passions that drive me, and what I would need to attain my goal of becoming a global digital media entrepreneur. Could I do it without school? Sure. Would it take me twice or three times as long to get there? Absolutely.
There are so many intangibles that come with an MBA, school for that matter. Things like a heightened awareness, tolerance, curiosity, and empathy from consistently engaging with people from different sociocultural and economic backgrounds: they’re the true value add. An MBA is like a fast track to a broadened perspective of yourself and others. That’s the gold mine for me.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? NYU Stern, Columbia Business School, UCLA Anderson, McDonough, Goizueta, Chicago Booth
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Growing up in a predominantly white, Jewish neighborhood with very little ethnic diversity, I developed significant identity issues as they related to my race and skin color. My brother and I counted for two of five black children in our entire elementary school. Our parents both came from lower economic backgrounds and worked really hard to provide us with a stable environment and excellent education. We lived a really comfortable suburban life, but the tradeoff was the diversity. To offset this, our parents enrolled us in extracurricular activities throughout the city. By about second grade, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. At school, my friends constantly pointed out how different my hair looked, felt and smelled. At dance class, my friends said I “talked white” and dressed weird. It wasn’t long before I told my parents that I wish I weren’t black and being white would be easier. Imagine having that conversation with your 8 year old!
The next six years, I remained unsure of who I was supposed to be. At 14, I was accepted into a summer biomedical science training program for underrepresented minorities. While we all had being science nerds in common, we were so different. We came from private schools, boarding schools, public schools. Some of us grew up in the projects. Others grew up in affluent and middle class neighborhoods. We spoke multiple languages and our families hailed from a variety of countries. We broke the image that society portrayed. That summer, none of that mattered. For the first time, I could see my place in the world and realized that it was anywhere I could be uniquely me.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? After business school, I will focus on my transition from Founder of RootsxWings Digital to CEO. My two foremost goals will be pushing the product forward into the product-market fit phase and crystallizing operations. I will additionally continue developing relationships to acquire more original content and form partnerships with similarly missioned brands.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself running RootsxWings as a fully established brand in the marketplace. I would like to begin strategizing the transition into a global mass media company with global relationships and satellite offices to keep the pulse on the needs of our audience. I will also be leading an effort to transport the RootsxWings community from a digital landscape to the physical through a confluence of events and programming. My most critical vision for that time is that I will employ my knowledge and network to redefine the digital media-tech pipeline through a global education program that will train young women of color in tech, writing and media.