Meet Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class Of 2021

Allyssa Ford 

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Kind and hardworking Navy veteran who enjoys a good challenge.”

Hometown: O’Fallon, IL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am currently reading through the “1,001 Books to Read Before You Die” list. I started my quest in January 2016. So far, I have read 168 of them.

Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College — Government

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Acclaim Technical Services, Operational Language Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At the conclusion of my active duty Navy service, I received a Joint Service Commendation Medal for hard work and dedication. The medal represents the culmination of four years’ worth of achievements and also serves as a reminder to continue putting forth my best effort and to always strive for improvement regardless of recognition.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Inspiring. Each of my classmates brings unique skills and fascinating life stories. Nearly everyone in my family chose the military as their lifelong career, and I am constantly awestruck by my classmates’ rich diversity of experiences. I can’t wait to learn from them over these next two years!

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? Aside from my classmates, Johnson’s powerfully supportive community sealed the deal for me. Throughout the entire application process, Johnson’s students, administrators, and professors have gone out of their way to provide guidance and answer questions. Coming from the Navy, I strongly value a cohesive team whose members support each other. Johnson’s demonstration of its community strength made it clear that the program is the right fit for me.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am greatly looking forward to participating in the Smith Family Business Initiative. The family I married into is close-knit and entrepreneurial-spirited. I am eager to learn from the best at Johnson to enable me greater success in current and future family business endeavors.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question I was asked was how I would handle a boardroom meeting in which I was the only woman.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Opportune timing. When my brother-in-law mentioned that his employers at the candle and soap factory were starting to think about retirement, we began planning to purchase the enterprise. For me, this meant pursuing an MBA to learn the particulars of business management.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

How did you determine your fit at various schools? My husband and I applied to business school together, and we prioritized small class sizes, campus location, and program specificity. We made visits to both of the schools we seriously considered attending to get a better feel of the administrative support, class structures, and student body. We also conducted a few hours worth of research online to determine how the programs would best help us meet our individual career goals. The combined campus visits and our research led us to the conclusion that Johnson exceeded all our expectations.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment occurred in June 2010 when I departed southern Illinois for Navy Bootcamp. Joining the Navy gave me the opportunity to gain valuable life skills, such as time management, respectful communication, and effective teamwork while proudly serving the nation.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In 10 years, I see myself as the CEO of a local New Hampshire-based soap and candle company. My brother-in-law currently serves as the product line manager for all their cold-processed soaps. We are positioning to purchase the company in the next couple of years with a focus on expanding both the product line and the customer base.

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