“A California native who loves cooking, Redwood trees, and education.”
Hometown: Cupertino, CA
Fun Fact About Yourself: Currently cooking my way through all of my grandmother’s recipes!
Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, San Diego: B.A International Studies, B.S Human Biology
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Digital Media Academy – VP of Sales and Business Development
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I had the opportunity to have a seat at the table when Digital Media Academy was sold in 2017. I helped lead the team through supporting the due diligence process, purchase negotiations, and the transition after the sale, including helping my colleagues understand the impact of the sale and work through operational changes and new product lines.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I have been most impressed with the sense of community and support that I see in my program. Everyone I’ve spoken with is more than eager to help, share their wisdom and experiences about the program, and support each other. In fact, our incoming class’ WhatsApp group has been so active with students helping each other find housing and get settled in Pittsburgh, and we haven’t even started the program!
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? There were two major considerations for me – a program with a strong focus on the quantitative aspect of the program, and a small class size where I could get to know my peers and be closely connected to the alumni network. Though I was able to grow in my career, I realized that there were certain analytical skills that I wanted to develop and Tepper places a lot of emphasis on that. Additionally, having been at a large undergraduate school where it was easier to get lost in the mix, I wanted the chance to be tightly connected to my cohort.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m looking forward to being involved in Tepper Women in Business because I want to be a part of an organization that is actively seeking to empower women and support equity in the workplace.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? With your experience and professional growth, why an MBA now?
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I wanted to meet new people and hear new ideas from folks from a variety of backgrounds. Additionally, I was not a business major in my undergrad and I always felt like I was missing some of the foundational knowledge that an MBA would provide. I had toyed with the idea of an MBA for a number of years but then realized that I wanted to transition in to more of a product management role or consulting role, and Tepper seemed like a great place to be for that.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to UCLA, Berkeley, and Columbia.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I wanted to prioritize schools that had a collaborative culture. It was important to me to attend a program where there were no sharp elbows, and where I felt like I was part of a community. In order to understand the culture of the different schools. I talked to students who had attended the program and looked for keywords when they described their experiences. I also paid attention to what they highlighted and emphasized in our conversations, because that told me a lot about what was important to the school and to the students. I also looked at the coursework and the syllabi for some of the classes to see how relevant the content was to the things that I was interested in. Lastly, I paid a lot of attention to the recruiters that came to the school. Tepper has built some great relationships with a variety of companies that I am interested in and really helps students navigate the recruitment process.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? After college, I found out that the local adult school had a shortage of GED tutors. I volunteered, confident and ready to help. Math was math, and in my hubris, I didn’t realize the challenges in teaching adult learners.
The experience was eye-opening. They hardly knew their multiplication tables. The seemingly-Sisyphean journey towards a GED was daunting, both for me and for the students working multiple jobs, caring for families, and going to school. But I quickly learned that this population holds some of the most resilient and motivated people. Coming back to high school as an adult is not easy, but these students recognized the larger impact of their education—on themselves and their children.
I’m most proud of my work with Michelle, 55 years old and desperately wanting her GED. She had unsuccessfully attempted to get it thirty years earlier. When I began to tutor her, she had failed math four times, hit a ceiling at work due to her lack of education, and had low self-confidence. Sessions devolved into, “How will I make it? Am I going to fail?” I slowly became a counselor, helping her set attainable goals and seeking ways to make the math more relevant. We talked about new career possibilities, all while working through sines, cosines, and the dreaded slope-intercept equation.
Eight months later, she passed! Looking back, I don’t believe the earlier failures were entirely due to a lack of ability; her own inhibitions played a significant role. More than anything, she needed a cheerleader to help build her confidence. Hearing that she had passed the test solidified my belief that meaningful educational experiences that are contextual and practical will help build confidence in students (no matter the age). This helped to solidify my commitment and interest in the mission of increasing equity and access in education.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? I want to pursue a career in building collaborative educational ecosystems—made up of schools, colleges, private/public enterprises, and policymakers—to develop meaningful educational pathways for all segments of the population. With a rapidly evolving technological landscape, I would like to run my own organization that focuses on developing a collaborative ecosystem that includes K-12 schools, colleges, and private/public enterprises to narrow the skills gap and prepare students for the future.