2020 First Generation MBAs: Kwaku Frimpong, University of Chicago (Booth)

Kwaku Frimpong

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Class: 2021

Hometown: The Bronx, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: My first name means Born on Wednesday and my last name means Knows Where Money Lies.

Undergraduate School and Major: Providence College, Marketing and Finance Double Major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Intersection Media, Small & Medium-Sized Business Account Executive

What did your parents do for a living? My mother is a Licensed Practical Nurse and my father worked in housekeeping across a few hotels in New York City.

What was the highest level of education achieved by your mother and your father? High School for both my mom and dad.

Which family member or mentor is your biggest inspiration or role model? Why? My late grandmother, Victoria Glover. She was easily the strongest woman I knew. She was humble, smart, and compassionate. She encouraged all of her children and grandchildren to love school and to never hold grudges because life is too short. She enjoyed life and wanted the best for her family. She lived in three different countries and always wanted us to think about seeing as much of the world as possible. Regardless of our generational and cultural differences, her wisdom always made sense to me. I aspire to be like her one day.

What was the moment that led you to decide to pursue higher education? Higher education has always been something my family instilled in me from a young age. My mother always had a love for school and that transferred to me and my siblings. However, the moment it became something I decided to pursue, was when I became a member of the REACH Program through Regis High School in New York. The REACH Program is an academic and leadership enrichment program that prepares Catholic, middle-school aged boys to earn scholarships to the top Catholic high schools in New York City. Through this program, I spent multiple summers at the University of Scranton preparing for middle school and high school entrance exams. At that age, spending those summers on a college campus showed me that making it to college was definitely going to be part of my future.

What was your biggest worry before going for your undergraduate degree? I was worried that I was not going to be able to afford to go away for college. Most of the people I grew up with either didn’t go to college or could only afford to stay local for school. My goal was to attend school outside of New York State, and I didn’t want money to hold me back.

What was the most challenging part of getting your undergraduate degree? Imposter syndrome was a very real thing during undergrad. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but there were times I questioned if I belonged because I was one of the few African American students on campus. The way I grew up was so different than my classmates. I didn’t come from a family of college graduates or have parents that were in finance or law. I recognized that there were certain opportunities that my classmates had that I didn’t. I found my support system on campus and eventually learned how to not let that hold me back.

What didn’t your family understand about the higher experience that you wish they would understand better? My parents never went to college so when it came time to develop my list of schools to apply to, they weren’t able to provide much assistance. I wish my parents were able to help me a little more in terms of navigating not only the application process but also life as a college student.

What led you to pursue an MBA degree? With my experience in advertising sales and account management, I understood that my soft skills are stronger than most. I wanted to get an MBA to help me fill in the hard skills I need to thrive in my career as a marketing leader long term.

How did you choose your MBA program? I wanted to go somewhere that wanted me just as much as I wanted them. Booth admissions, faculty, and students collectively made it clear that they wanted me to be part of the Booth family more than anywhere else. I loved Booth’s data-driven approach to marketing and felt their marketing approach was unique and reflective of the current state of the industry where numbers drive most decisions. I also appreciated the fact that I had the opportunity to attend Booth as a Kilts Marketing Fellow and have a fully supportive community of Booth’s top marketers by my side.

What was your biggest worry before starting your MBA? If I was smart enough to do the work and succeed at a top MBA program.

How were you able to finance your MBA as a first-generation student? It was a combination of a scholarship from Booth and student loans.

What advice would you have for other first-generation college students? Aim high and never let anyone discredit the hard work you put in to get there. You earned your place there and you are there for a reason. Never forget that.

What do you plan to pursue after graduation? As of now, my plan is to pursue a career in marketing as a brand manager.


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