2023 MBA To Watch: Kimberly Rodriguez, Michigan State (Broad)

Kimberly Rodriguez

Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University

“Being an advocate for first generation individuals that need that voice to keep thriving.

Hometown: Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: I like to paint on my free time to help with creativity in other aspects of my work.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

Bachelor’s Degree: Business Administration and Spanish Language

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car as a Management Assistant.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I had the pleasure of working for Eaton Corporation at their headquarters in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am excited to announce that I will be returning back to Eaton Corporation and joining their Human Resource Rotational Program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Taking on the role of helping my MBA Association club raise over $5000 for a healing center for grieving children, teens, young adults, and their families.

I am continuing my help in charity by partnering with New Hope Pet Rescue for the remainder of the school year and will be raising funds.

I also took on a leadership position in being a presentation coach, where I helped our first years perfect their presentation skills for when they take on the work force.

Inclusion and Unity Award – 2022

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

I am proud to have taken the role of Undergraduate Student Engagement. With the help of my mentor, I led a team of undergraduate students and came up with fun events for business students to keep them engaged within our business community. An example of one of our popular events was Broad Bash. Here, we honor the undergraduates in the Broad College of Business by offering fun lawn games, raffles for amazing prizes, and free food to celebrate their success.

One event that we hope to execute from a learning standpoint is a Coffee and Culture, where we bring in minorities in the workforce to talk about their experience. This is important to me because, as an MBA student, I like being a learning tool for undergraduate students who have questions about being in the business community. It makes me feel that I am a part of something important that will one day have an impact on the world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The one that I will be most proud of is when they call my name and I get to walk across the stage to get my MBA diploma. I am first generation, and being the first in my family to be able to say that I achieved the highest level of education means the world to me and my family. My parents sacrificed a lot to get me to where I am, so to be able to dedicate this degree that is so valuable to them will be one of my greatest achievements so far in my career.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Eli Broad College of Business because of how helpful staff has been to me since day one of applying. As soon as I turned in my application, they made an effort to always stay in communication with me to make sure I had the right resources in choosing a business school. To me, communication is key, so when I saw how Michigan State went out of their way to call, email, or be accommodating to what I needed, it reminded me that this is how the workforce should be. You always look out for one another when making important decisions that can change your life. Overall, I picked Michigan State for the friendly atmosphere that I was given since the beginning, and I continue to get, not only from the admissions staff, but my professors as well.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? A favorite course that I had as an MBA was my Finance course taught by Morad Zekhnini. It was one of the most challenging classes I have taken to this day, but I was able to gain insight into the Finance world, and understand what I was doing. At the time, finance  was not one of my strongest abilities. I became proficient in the equations that were being taught to me. I also enjoyed that he would not only give us equations to learn, but he took time to explain the background of the individuals who came up with them. He gave each student well-rounded lessons on why Finance was important and how we would see this in our everyday lives.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event that continues to be tradition is our Charity Ball Events. I enjoy that I get to be a part of the group that helps organize this for our peers. The students pick an organization that we would like to help, and raise money so that they can continue to prosper within their community. It reflects great dedication at Michigan State because not only are we students, we are students with a purpose and our purpose is to help those around us. It reflects back on our character and how we want to do good in this world, and we do that by helping raise money.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One thing I would do differently with the knowledge I have now is set up a resource center or club for minority students in higher education. Throughout my time at Michigan State, I have had students reach out to me on LinkedIn from all over the United States to talk about being a Latina in higher education. I would give them advice and do my best to talk them through decisions they were going to make. It made me realize that I have a voice, and that people I did not even know were looking up to me because it was someone they did not have in their life. So if I could redo one portion of my MBA career, I would set up resource tools for individuals like myself who did not have anyone else to look upon. I want to make sure that my people are getting the right information so that they can also achieve what they want to in life.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the biggest myths is that Eli Broad College of Business is competitive and that everyone has it out for each other. On the contrary, my experience at the Eli Broad College of Business was and continues to be impeccable. My peers lift me up when I am feeling down. When it was time to look for internships, students would come together and help others find something in their respective fields. Students who are in the same concentration would also give tips on how to interview or even set up mock interviews so that we would make sure everyone would succeed. When I look around Broad, I see the potential each student has within themselves to be something great in this life, and that is why we help each other. As business students, we are competitive, but when it comes to helping our peers we make sure we have the right instructional material. The Russell Palmer Center also helped us in having the right resources to exemplify to our colleagues. Without those resources, many of us would not have found an internship or full-time job offers. At this time, I want to thank my classmates for always pushing me and helping me throughout my MBA journey.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? What I loved most about East Lansing, Michigan was the community. Dropping your previous career and navigating a new city to begin an MBA journey is a very scary thought. It was something that I did not deem plausible because I was scared of the “what-if’s.” The what if it does not work out? What if I am making the wrong decision in life?  What if I do not have a community to reflect back on? The endless thoughts are scary, but what I can say is moving to East Lansing was one of the best professional decisions I have made. We are a tight-knit community that are always looking out for each other. Whether it’s the friendly hello at your local grocery stores, or the alumni’s coming back to visit yelling “GO GREEN” as you go on a walk. There is a sense of belonging in East Lansing, and I carry it with pride when people ask where I go to school.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about business school is how important it is to network with the people around you and to create everlasting relationships with your peers. Coming into business school, I thought it was going to be learning about numbers, learning how to manage a team, and how important it is to make money. One must understand that it is so much more than that. My peers who walk with me to class will be future CEOs, executive boards members, and the future leaders so one must build these relationships to gain insight on those journeys. Business school is more than just making sure you pass all your classes. It is making sure you stay in touch with those around you because not only will they make great friends, they will be able to understand what you went through and help you when the time comes.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? It was during my application interview that I knew I wanted to attend Michigan State University. As I logged into Zoom waiting for the host to invite me in, I was a nervous wreck. I was scared to be myself because I thought I had to depict the “perfect” MBA candidate. As soon as the interview started, I realized that they wanted to get to know the real me. They did not start right away with questions about my career or why I wanted an MBA. Instead, they asked about my family, what I do on the weekends, and who I am as a person. It felt like I was having a conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year. They made the atmosphere comfortable for me by getting to know who I truly was. By the time the tough questions came, I answered them with confidence and diligence. I had felt like I belonged within the environment because of how conversational it was in the beginning. Michigan State made me feel like a real human being rather than just another MBA candidate waiting to get in.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? An MBA classmate and friend I admire is Emilia Zamora. I had the pleasure of meeting her because we were both in the same cohort. I noticed how dedicated and focused she was when it came to her school work. She effortlessly would answer questions in class. When she did not understand something, she made it known it was something she truly wanted to learn. Emilia is someone who I look up to, and in time hope I can reflect on the greatest attributes that she has. She exemplifies great perseverance and I know she is going to make superb leader. I had an honor of working with her in a few team settings and in a case competition. The latter is where I saw her strive with great excellence when it came down to knowing her information well. I hope she knows the great impact she has had in my professional and personal life because she is someone that has helped me with my MBA journey.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? One of the top items in my professional bucket list is to become a mentor for those who were once like me. For the women who are scared to make that leap, I want to influence and guide them in the right direction in their professional careers. Being a minority in the workforce can be difficult at times, but I want to pass down my wealth of knowledge to those who will come after me and give them hope that we can lead the world.

Another item I have on my professional bucket list is to continually educate myself in the workforce, meaning I want to master new skills. Some say that once you start working, your job tends to get repetitive. I want to avoid that by learning new skills and making sure that every day I start my workday, I can contribute something different within that environment. Learning new skills can help avoid that feeling of being bored, so I want to make sure that when I am working I am looking at it from a different perspective each time. Mastering new skills will not only help the company that I am working for, but it will help me grow as an individual in the workforce.

What made Kimberly such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Kimberly is a trailblazer in our program and has left an impact that will be felt for years to come.  The first MBA to be assigned to support our new undergraduate student engagement office, Kimberly has spent the past two years supporting initiatives affecting 8.000+ undergraduate business students academically, professionally, and personally, to include qualifying the student experience in quantitative ways (Broad 360 Student Engagement Platform), interacting with Broad Student Senate, and others.

Kimberly’s leadership acumen was also felt in the MBA program this year, with tremendous work on the MBA Association e-board, which supports the student experience of all full-time MBA students in 10+ events annually, assisting in raising funds for non-profits (over $10,000) as well as creating community amongst our students.  Finally, Kimberly has done an exceptional job curating her MBA journey on LinkedIn and other platforms in ways that other students and young professionals can emulate.  We celebrate her successes, and hope to partner with her in the future on MBA alumni engagement projects, as she represents the best of us!”

Wayne Hutchison
Managing Director
Full-Time MBA


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