“Working hard and enjoying the process are what motivate me, not necessarily the outcomes.”
Hometown: Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an identical twin who has also performed with the Rockettes.
Undergraduate School and Major: BS in Business with Accounting Focus, Pennsylvania State University
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: In the past year, I have worn many hats: Rockette at Radio City Music Hall, fitness instructor at Tracy Anderson Method, and bookkeeper and accounting assistant at True Model Management.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Following through on my plan to apply to and ultimately attend business school feels like a very big accomplishment right now. It has really required me to step outside of my comfort zone. I am also proud of making the commitment to complete my undergraduate education while pursuing my performing career.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I spent a few days with some of my future classmates before we have to hit the books and I was moved by how generous and collaborative everyone was to ensure our events were a success. It has also been a great experience meeting everyone and finding them to be very accepting of me even though I may not fit the ‘typical’ MBA student profile.
What is the best part of coming to New York City to earn your MBA? My career to date has been based in New York. I am excited that I will be able to continue to support and enjoy the performing arts as I begin my second act. Although my career focus has shifted, I know I will always enjoy dance and being in a city like New York will allow me to continue to take dance classes and challenge myself in new ways each day.
Aside from your classmates and location, 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 really wanted the full-time, cohort experience for Business School even if I do not have a typical background. I am confident that at Columbia there will be other students like me that I can relate to and being in a class with a diversity of experience is really important to me.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am excited about the travel immersions that are offered through Columbia; my first job dancing was in Japan and I really hope to have a chance to visit Asia again soon.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The application really forced me to put on paper some of the aspirations and ideas that have been brewing for quite a while. This was the most difficult part to me as I was always questioning whether someone would read my essay and think I was being unrealistic. In the end, I realized it didn’t matter what anyone might think and that I had nothing to lose by applying to my dream school.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? When I was offered my first dance contract, I thought for sure it would be my only opportunity to perform, so what I would do after has always been on my conscience even as I performed for many years with the Rockettes. I’ve had the opportunity to be cast in new productions being built from the ground up and realized that I had an interest in other roles besides my own role on stage. As a performer, my job was to give the best performance, but I was starting to have an interest in seeing things from a higher level. I have for a while now been paving the way through my education to pivot to careers where I can use different aspects of my personality and be challenged intellectually.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? NYU Stern, Vanderbilt (Owen), Baruch (Zicklin)
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I spent a year researching schools. I attended MBA open houses and panels in New York, which made me realize that I was very interested in staying in New York, but I also considered schools in other cities experiencing growth where there might also be ample opportunity to start a new career and where I could network locally while in school. At Columbia, I audited a class and felt right away that this was the type of environment that I would like to experience. To be honest, I was nervous and was not sure how my previous experience would be viewed by a business school, so I used class profiles published by various schools to determine what schools appeared to have applicants from backgrounds like me. I felt staying in New York would offer the best access to a variety of industries including media and entertainment.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? When I was 12 or 13, I attended a professional ballet school for the summer. At the end of the intensive, I was told that I would never make it as a ballet dancer because of my body type. I remember being devastated. Instead of quitting, it made me more committed to training (perhaps I wanted to prove this person wrong). I think it gave me a push to try a little harder, but also a dose of reality and taught me a great deal of humility.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Right now I am so excited about the prospect of being fully focused on my MBA and my longer-term goals as opposed to trying to work as a dancer, study, and look for the next gig as I have had to in the past. I hope that in 10 years I am in a position where I am on a team building and executing strategies, and facilitating the development of new projects for a media or entertainment company.