Access to education is something that many in the U.S. — and other parts of the world — often take for granted. But for Ehsan Amozegar, fleeing to the U.S. was not only a path to his educational dreams — but a path out of institutionalized oppression and incarceration. Amozegar is part of the Baha’i community, “which has been systematically persecuted by the Iranian government,” according to Amozegar. While he and his wife were earning their bachelor degrees, in Iran, Amozegar was arrested and taken into a solitary cell where he was interrogated multiple times.
“I missed one of my exams during the time I was confined, and I had an exam the day after I was released on bail,” Amozegar told P&Q earlier this year. “I promised myself to not only continue learning and pursue my education, but also to help others who are facing the same discrimination.”
Amozegar found an attorney to argue his case, but was ultimately sentenced to a year in prison. After he was released, Amozegar began working for a small oil company and took classes to earn his bachelor’s degree on the side. Amozegar then applied for an MS in renewable energy engineering. After being accepted, kicked-out of the school, and then re-accepted, Amozegar graduated. With an interest in entrepreneurship, Amozegar decided he wanted an MBA and applied to the Rady School of Management at the University of California-San Diego. He was accepted and moved to the U.S. where he is now a student in the full-time MBA program.
Akin to Ida Valentine, P&Q is impressed by Amozegar’s strength and resilience and desire to improve his life and the life of those around him with an MBA.
The odds of getting into a top-shelf MBA program are not on an applicants’ side. For a family of five siblings, one sibling earning an MBA from a top school is impressive enough. But four out of five? That’s almost unheard of. Yet, that’s exactly what could happen for the Momoh family of Alberta, Calgary by way of Shell Estate, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Osi Momoh, is now a second-year MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and Aile and David graduated last spring from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, respectively. At the time, P&Q wasn’t aware of any other family with three siblings simultaneously enrolled in top-20 MBA programs.
“It’s not every day you see three siblings getting an MBA degree at the same time at three different top U.S. programs,” Osi Momoh told P&Q last April. “Well, my siblings and I have beat those odds.”
The fourth Osai sibling considering an MBA program is Lawrence, a technology risk consultative at Deloitte. Lawrence, who is the youngest of the family, is currently contemplating applying to B-school over the next two years. His top choices? Duke Fuqua, Wharton, and Northwestern Kellogg. And each of his older siblings is trying to guide him to their respective alma maters.
“I feel like we’ll be pulling him in the right direction if he tried to come to our school — because we’ll be fighting, mostly,” Aile said, laughing. “I want him to go to Wharton, but I’m sure Osi’s trying to get him to go to Fuqua. And David is trying to pull him to Kellogg. So we’ll see.”
Diversity and inclusion continues to become an important topic in MBA programs. Whether it’s hiring administrative positions specifically for diversity and inclusion efforts, increasing case studies focusing on business professionals of color, or increasing efforts to recruit and enroll underrepresented minorities and women, many B-schools are increasing resources into creating a welcoming environment for students coming from more diverse backgrounds. While schools tout what administrators are doing to increase diversity and inclusion, the truth is, the majority of these efforts begin with activism and pressure from current and former students.
This past October, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business published its first annual report looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion in the school. While the report was headed up by Sarah Soule, a senior associate dean for academic affairs at the GSB, a growing effort into the area has recently been led by Megan Holston-Alexander and Ladd Hamrick. Alexander, who graduated with an MBA from the GSB last year, is a young African-American from Alabama whose father was gassed when he tried to see Martin Luther King speak in Greenville. Ladd Hamrick, who is finishing his MBA at the GSB, is a white professional from North Carolina who went to Williams College and worked at JP Morgan in investment banking before landing a job in private equity, and in his words, has had virtually every privilege box checked.
Alexander became the president of the Black Student Association at Stanford. Ladd has been organizing group discussions and small dinners among diverse students to help break down barriers and create a deeper understanding of each other’s differences. Students like Alexander and Ladd have been instrumental in pushing an agenda of increased diversity and inclusion efforts including creating and providing a list of potential business leaders who were minorities for case study subjects. “We got that ball rolling and we got to connect those folks with the case writers at Stanford,” Alexander said last October. “That was something we were really proud to get the ball rolling on. A lot of times when it comes to diversity folks don’t know where to begin.”
At P&Q, we admire and applaud students like Alexander and Ladd at all B-schools across the country looking to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for all types of current and future MBA students.
Business school can often be the most flexible yet frantic time in a person’s young adult life. With FOMO always at the back (or front) of mind, it can be a bit overwhelming. And that’s for a single adult with not many responsibilities outside of B-school walls. But for mothers, it can be even more intense.
“Sometimes child care hours do not align with needs, sometimes there are snow days, etc. The expenses are greater — you have to buy child care and more convenience items. You may have to spend more on eating out because there’s no time to cook,” says Jenna Herr, who is a current MBA and mother at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. “Something’s got to give and that involves real sacrifice. Sometimes we have to miss school concerts, or we can’t volunteer in the classroom. You necessarily bring work home with you. You try to find quality time, not quantity time — because you don’t have it!”
There is no available data on how many women pursue an MBA while raising a child, with or without a partner. But across the spectrum of graduate business education in the U.S., schools are increasingly anticipating the needs of “MomBAs” in their student ranks, says Elissa Sangster, CEO of the Forte Foundation, an international nonprofit that works to advance women in leadership positions in business schools and businesses.
And for Jenna Herr and all of the other parent MBAs out there, P&Q applauds your drive to earn a degree while caring for one or more children.