Sennel K. Threlkeld II
“My work means nothing if someone’s life isn’t improved because of it.”
Hometown: Pontiac, Michigan
Fun Fact About Yourself: My first time traveling abroad was to Medellin, Colombia. I planned the trip with two weeks’ notice, decided to go alone and did not speak any Spanish. It was the experience of a lifetime!
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – BA in Economics w/ Certificate in Entrepreneurship
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: National Industries for the Blind – Senior Product Development Specialist
In the second half of the year, you will be completing an Academy devoted to areas like Marketing, Finance, Operations, Digital Enterprises and more. Which Academy interests you the most and why? I am most interested in the Strategic Finance Academy. I want to use the Academy experience as an opportunity to develop skills that wouldn’t necessarily be strengthened through my concentration or job function immediately following my program. Although I plan to pursue a marketing career path, I believe a sound financial understanding is vital to any leader who wishes to be qualified in handling multifaceted business issues.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Given all that is currently going on in our country and the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelley’s top ranked Online MBA Program was a very influential factor in my decision to choose this business school. With the continued spread of the virus, there is much uncertainty regarding the level at which schools will be able to successfully adapt their programming. In making such a huge decision, I needed confidence that the program I chose would be prepared in the event that classes are forced to proceed online indefinitely. Without a doubt, Kelley has proven it has the experience needed to handle online education and career services for its MBA students.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? From the classmates I’ve met so far, I have been pleasantly surprised by the supportiveness that everyone puts forth. Whether it pertains to life in Bloomington or networking and internship opportunities, I’ve experienced nothing but students who are willing to go above and beyond to provide assistance and insight.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? I am most excited about the Global Business and Social Enterprise (GLOBASE) program, which allows students to work directly with entrepreneurs and nonprofits in emerging economies around the world. My passion for social impact and my love for traveling abroad makes GLOBASE perfect for someone like myself. Although everyone’s ability to travel will likely be restricted this year, I believe this program can still have an overwhelmingly positive global impact.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Through ReliveTheBAR, a social enterprise that I co-founded, I was able to launch a book scholarship fund for students of color at my alma mater. Since the inception of this fund, my organization has provided over 300 free textbooks to undergraduate students, and I am expecting that number will surpass 400 by the end of the upcoming academic year. ReliveTheBAR has been able to leverage live event experiences, apparel sales, and alumni support to positively impact students in our community — and I couldn’t be more proud of its growth.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I consider my pursuit of an MBA to be long overdue considering the original plan I had in mind. In 2014, when I earned my bachelor’s degree, I promised myself that I would go back for my MBA after gaining three years of work experience. Unfortunately, I let the anxiety of standardized testing and getting back into “school mode” stall my journey. Six years later, I’ve finally made good on that promise to myself. Although everything did not go exactly as I initially planned, I am grateful for the manner in which everything has turned out. At this point in my life, I not only have a better understanding of my career objectives, but I am also better equipped to get more out of the program than I would have had I begun at a younger age.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Michigan Ross, Texas McCombs, and UNC Kenan Flagler
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process?An interviewer asked what doubts I had about pursuing my MBA at this time. I found this question challenging because my answer required me to display a level of vulnerability I had not previously prepared for as part of the interview process.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? For every school I considered, I made it a point to speak with Black students and alumni regarding their experiences within their programs. Because choosing a school with a strong academic reputation was nonnegotiable, I had confidence that my particular career objectives would be achieved regardless of which program I ultimately decided to attend. With that in mind, I needed to know how each administration supported its Black students, along with other minority groups in times of challenge. I prioritized choosing a learning environment where my identity, values, and beliefs are not only respected, but protected.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I’m not sure I can say I have one singular moment that I can label as the most “defining.” However, I would certainly say my entrepreneurial spirit has been defining me for years. I’ve been afforded countless moments that have shaped the person I am today, and I’ve also encountered a wide range of experiences that can be used to anchor the concepts and strategies taught in my coursework. My entrepreneurial spirit has mandated that I have great familiarity with hard work and sacrifice as well as creativity and innovation. All of which are traits I expect to greatly benefit me during the pursuit of my degree.
What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Although I’ve only purchased their products as gifts for others as opposed to myself, Fenty is hands down my favorite company. I most admire their boldness in regard to their dedication to diversity in brand positioning, marketing, and product offerings. Fenty has built a following by prioritizing customers who have been historically underserved and undervalued by other major brands, specifically women of color, and has seen tremendous success in doing so. Every day, consumers are growing more critical of the values held by companies they give their money to. Those companies that are still attempting to push forced and disingenuous diversity efforts will face stifled growth at the hands of their more modern and socially conscious competitors. I believe that is an important lesson for us to all be aware of as future business leaders.
DON’T MISS: MEET INDIANA KELLEY’S MBA CLASS OF 2022