Meet Georgia Tech Scheller’s MBA Class Of 2021

Candice S. Blacknall

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business

“Soldier, Surgeon, Student: Frequent flyer in the Pursuit of Human and Environmental Equity.”

Hometown: Flint, Michigan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a minimalist, so I recently got rid of my Western-style bed for a Brazilian hammock.

Undergraduate School and Major: Elon University. Psychology and International Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: US Army Sergeant- Lead Medic

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been my ability to look back and see myself and my values reflected in what I’ve accomplished, the organizations truly see myself and my values reflected in them. There are so many ways to be successful and even more definitions of the word ‘success’. I’ve found that the people who feel most gratified in what they do are those who see a significant part of themselves and their values in the tasks. As a result, I’ve made it a priority to ensure my values of service, compassionate leadership, and advocacy permeate throughout my journey. When I look at my nine years of military service, my career in medicine, my volunteerism, and even where I chose to earn my MBA, I feel most accomplished knowing that those values were the cornerstone of those experiences.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Balanced. The trajectory of the world of business and beyond is toward leaders who have the cognitive skill and emotional intelligence. The future is going to be heavily driven by people who prioritize collaboration and innovation. The ability to do all of these things requires a mastery of personal and professional balance. When I think about my classmates, I certainly see this quality. My MBA classmates have accomplished an unbelievable level of success in their own spheres of influence and, while in some circles this may lend itself to arrogance, they demonstrate an equally unbelievable amount of humility and compassion towards others. They take pride in their professional growth, but many of them have stories that include a great deal of personal growth as well. While we all come from different backgrounds, I have seen my classmates draw on this balance to collaborate effectively and, in many ways, create an entirely new language that has been designed by our newly formed collective.

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 believe that technological innovation is going to continue to play a key role in helping underserved communities gain access to healthcare. As a future leader in the healthcare industry, it is important for me to be able to speak the language of business with a technology framework. With that goal in mind, where to pursue my MBA was clear. Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business quite literally sits at the intersection of technology and business. The corporate community surrounding Scheller is an ever-expansive network of innovation centers from the Fortune 500 list. Their position in Tech Square is strategically designed to give them access to the wealth of talent emerging from Georgia Tech. Scheller is a school that prioritizes preparing leaders to thrive in this growing technological world. I knew that the program would help me cultivate the relationships and skills that I would need to build to be successful in my career.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?

  • TI:GER (Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results)
  • Blacks in Business

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? How will the MBA affect your career in medicine?

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I think having a pluralistic perspective is essential to innovation. By completing my MBA concurrently with my M.D., I am better positioned to nurture this pluralism. Whenever I am in dealing with a clinical problem, I will be able to see the business solution and vice versa. Over time, I anticipate that practicing this dimensionality will fortify each individual perspective and aide me in creating innovative solutions to obstacles that I may encounter within the industry.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None. Scheller College of Business and Morehouse School of Medicine dual degree (M.D./MBA) was the option for me.

What made you select Scheller? One of my role models, Dr. Malone, instilled the wisdom that people really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. From my very first interaction with the Scheller community, I knew – without a doubt – that they truly cared both about the people within their community and those beyond it. At Scheller, your vision for your career becomes a shared vision +in that everyone rallies around you to make happen. I’m inspired by the diverse experiences and strengths of my classmates and humbled by their willingness to share them. The solidarity of the community at Scheller is absolutely palpable and I know it would not be if it were not nurtured with dedicated intention.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? It’s important to me that programs and organizations that I am a part of reflect my values. The most prominent of these values is servant leadership and community. Much of my research consisted of engaging with the Scheller community directly. One can certainly get a strong impression of Scheller’s community environment by just visiting. I also attended the welcome weekend to meet the types of students that had interviewed and were anticipating attending to get a sense of their values. Location was also incredibly important. My medical school is here in Atlanta and I would be briefly leaving my program to attend if I were to attend another school.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment occurred during my first deployment to Iraq. Just six months after the day that we landed in the country, an alarm sounded at 3 a.m. “All medical personnel report to your duty areas immediately!” I ran from my bunk to the clinic, the air still hazy from the powerful sandstorm that had just ripped a Black Hawk from the skies. Anxiously, my team and I waited in the hospital’s open bay for the evacuation vehicles to arrive with the injured troops. For the first time, after preparing everyone and everything, I had to prepare myself. If I said that there was no doubt, I would not be being truthful. There was doubt, but it did not overshadow my determination. My team and I balanced a tightrope between life and death, pooling our skills and collaborative efforts to tip the scales in favor of life. Despite our best efforts, the soldier did not survive. I was distraught. This experience did not match my vision of medicine as an infallible system. I soon realized, however, that practicing medicine is not a guarantee of the desired outcome. Instead, it is an opportunity to challenge the odds and fight for a patient’s second chance at life.

This experience shaped my leadership, my appreciation for life, and my dedication to my career in business and in medicine. It is because of this moment that I fervently believe that obstacles are really just opportunities for growth and innovation. Business and technology are my chosen means to create an opportunity to overcome the obstacles that impeded equitable healthcare access.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

  • Finished with my Urology Residency
  • Established at least one private practice in a rural community
  • Launched my own business
  • Worked to commercialize a piece of healthcare technology

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