Meet the MBA Class of 2023: David Cooper, UC Riverside School of Business

David Cooper

University of California Riverside School of Business, A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management (AGSM)

Everything in life is obtainable. But it does not come overnight.”

Hometown: Ladera Heights, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: If I could get paid to do anything in this life, or essentially have a job that doesn’t feel like a job, I would love to do what Anthony Bourdain did—travel, eat, and connect with human beings around the globe to gain more knowledge and understanding.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Los Angeles, International Development Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: AT Cooper Enterprises, Tax Accountant, Bookkeeper, Tax/Business Consultant

What word best describes the UC Riverside MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? Energizing. As I met my classmates and got to know their personalities, backgrounds, and overall sense of drive and charisma, they have energized me to do more and be better. When I hear my classmates’ stories about coming from foreign countries or what they had to do to make it here, it helps me realize the importance and value of where I am and the opportunity that I have. It provides me with a stronger sense of purpose during times that I’m juggling a lot or feeling stressed.

Aside from classmates, what was the key part of UC Riverside’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? What really drove me to attend UCR’s MBA program was the diversity within the program. Not just the diversity in the coursework and instruction, but the people and their diverse life stories, backgrounds, and knowledge. This is important to me because early in my undergraduate career I struggled with the lack of diversity around me. I know that kind of environment is not in direct alignment with who I am and how I want to live my life.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at UC Riverside? So far, my favorite course at UCR has been Organizational Behavior with Dr. Elaine Wong because she does an amazing job of tying our coursework to real-life situations. When we have our labs in class, she encourages everyone to get up and physically use the knowledge we learned in the lecture to draw out a real-world application. For example, a recent class exercise explored how to work with a team member who may be difficult, and it taught me that not everybody is going to have the same working style I do or may focus differently. You have to learn to adapt to different environments and communicate effectively and professionally, even when the situation is difficult.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Right here, right now. My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has honestly been making it into UCR’s MBA program. This is where most of my time is spent, so I believe this should be my biggest accomplishment.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? My biggest accomplishment so far as an MBA student has been balancing my part-time job and attending UCR, while I live and work in Los Angeles.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I realized that it was in my best interest to pursue an MBA now because I want to afford myself the opportunity to take bigger calculated risks in the future. To do that, I need to equip myself with the proper tools and knowledge to develop a strong foundation.

My interests include health and wellness, food, nutrition — and how all these topics relate to marginalized people of color, particularly those with ancestry in the global south. I would love to develop the ability to put marginalized people and people of color in positions of influence and power around the world. I would also like to see a dramatic increase in the importance of health and wellness in the U.S. within communities of color. I have seen marginalized communities suffer from health issues, such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. These can be attributed to many factors, but can be traced back to these marginalized communities that do not have the appropriate resources.

I have a strong interest in travel, global trade, global sustainability, and companies that operate internationally, especially in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. After graduation, I hope to go into business consulting, preferably for companies aligned with my personal interests, and eventually build a strong business of my own.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into UC Riverside’s MBA program? I would advise anyone looking to gain admission into UCR’s MBA program to get outside of their comfort zone. Try new things: a job that wasn’t initially interesting, a new class, volunteering somewhere, or just pushing one’s self to grow. The more you know, the better you are. Comfort is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of a person’s success. So, get comfortable with being uncomfortable!


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