2024 Best & Brightest MBA: MiChaela Barker, Yale School of Management

MiChaela Barker

Yale School of Management

“A multi-talented, creative, and hardworking trailblazer that leads with compassion and inclusivity at the forefront.”   

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: I am the first girl born on my father’s side of the family in 150 years. I sing, write songs, and produce under the stage name, Bella Reign.

Undergraduate School and Degree: THE Ohio State University. Bachelor of Science in Public Health: Environmental Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Ingham County Health Department as the Infant Mortality Coalition Coordinator

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? Yale Ventures in New Haven, Connecticut

Where will you be working after graduation? Actively recruiting for full-time. Founder and CEO of Matcha Scrubs.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Student Government President of the Yale School of Management; Blue Cohort Representative of the Yale School of Management; Consortium Liaison; Black Business Alliance Co-Lead; Yale Healthcare Conference Co-Chair; 2022-2023 Foreign Language Area Studies Fellow; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Incorporated. North Atlantic Region Generation NEXT Coordinator; Co-Founder of the Melanated Business Alliance of Greater Lansing

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my achievement of being elected as the Yale School of Management’s Student Government President. In the wake of the SCOTUS decision to overturn affirmative action, I believe that being a Black woman serving as President – and this being the first time that there has been both a Black dean and Black Student Government President at the same time at Yale SOM – my accomplishments are not only for myself, but for all of the communities that I serve and represent. As President, I am able to advocate for equity, curriculum changes, inspire prospective students, and show them that they not only have a place within Yale SOM, but that they have a place to make a difference within this world. As a dual Masters of Public Health and Masters of Business Administration student, I always challenge myself to look at all issues in a holistic way. There are so many sides to the human experience, and I am someone who will always advocate for celebrating the uniqueness that individuals have rather than stifling that in order to fit into a box. Humans are holistic and intersection, and to explore that is a privilege and what makes our community so special.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my decision to start my company, Matcha Scrubs. Matcha Scrubs is an innovative and inclusive satin-lined scrub cap company for healthcare providers that features the first-ever eye shield holder on a scrub cap. What makes me so proud of this is the fact that I took an idea that came to me while my mother, an OBGYN, was taking care of patients during the peak of the pandemic. Now, I am turning that dream into a reality. What started off as sketches and doodles in my notebook has not transformed into prototypes and tech packs for manufacturing. I am so proud of how this idea has become a reality not only through my hard work, but also by ensuring that all stakeholders, my mother, healthcare providers of color, and my Yale community, have all been engaged with me in the process since day 1. It takes a village to become successful, and I have a very strong village behind me.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose this business school because I knew that I would thrive, not just survive. As an entrepreneur and a musical artist, I had imposter syndrome about whether or not I would fit in. As someone that did not come from a financial background, I was worried that I would be eons behind my classmates. That could not be further from the truth, however. When talking with current students, I was able to see how much they support one another, even outside of the classroom. I watched as they attended one another’s plays, pitch competitions, bachata classes, trained for marathons together, and more. I wanted a community that would love and uplift every single part of me, and I have found just that and more within Yale SOM.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Zoe Chance is my favorite professor. On top of her amazing research and influence skills, I simply have never met anyone as empathetic and humble as Zoe. She is never afraid to lend a listening ear and provide mentorship when needed, but she has also taught me how to advocate for myself and establish boundaries. As a woman navigating corporate America, it can be tough balancing the lines between opening yourself up to new experiences, but also keeping yourself safe from those who intend to take advantage of you. Zoe has taught me, both inside and outside of class, how to navigate these spaces and keep my moral compass intact.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course is Strategic Leadership Across Sectors, taught by Professor Jeffery Sonnenfeld. This course allows students to have face-to-face interactions with Fortune 500 CEOs, advocacy specialists, heads of media and entertainment, government officials, and more. What I love about this class is not only that Professor Sonnenfeld brings in these phenomenal speakers, but that he encourages students to ask tough questions, network, and have a transparent dialogue with individuals who we may never be able to meet otherwise. His willingness and commitment for ensuring that his students’ voices are heard is truly refreshing to see, and is something that every professor should strive for.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Yale SOM is that Ivy League business students are stiff and standoffish. That could not be further from the truth. My experiences with my fellow students have ranged from them supporting me at my Bella Reign concert for my “Lioness” album release, watching “Hadestown” on Broadway, hanging out at the world’s largest indoor zip lining course, participating in cake baking competitions, and performing at Diwali celebrations. Business students don’t just dress in neutral colors and stare at Excel sheets all day. At SOM, we make music, create patents, ride horses, sew jackets, sculpt mugs, do standup comedy, volunteer at soup kitchens, advocate for equity, and always ensure that we are learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The thing that I love the most about New Haven, CT is how many locally owned businesses there are. New Haven is extremely diverse, so it means a lot to me that I can eat at restaurants that are Black, Latinx, Women, and Veteran-owned that are less than a 10-minute walk away from me. As someone who loves the performing arts, I love being within walking distance of the Shubert Theatre, a Black-owned nonprofit theatre that not only gets shows that are on the Broadway circuit, but also hosts performances by Alvin Ailey, comedy shows, and summer arts camps. Being a part of such a cultural mecca is amazing, and I love taking advantage of the opportunities both inside and outside of Yale, and experiencing all that New Haven has to offer.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me the most was the collaborative environment. Most of our assignments are based centered around group work. While this shocked me at first, it also made complete sense. You are never going to be working within a business environment where you are doing everything on your own. Fact checking, collaboration, and innovation will always require you to work with other people. By ensuring that we are honing these skills from the very beginning, I truly believe that Yale SOM is setting us up for success by not only making us smarter and more prepared as individuals, but as team members as well.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my best friend, Tobi Shitta-Bey. As a fellow dual MPH and MBA student, I love watching her grow not only academically, but also in her professional life. As a founder of her own company and a successful consultant, Tobi does a phenomenal job balancing her professional roles, passion projects, love for travel, and the wine industry. Having another woman, especially another Black woman, in my corner that is absolutely killing it, is something that I will always cherish. We not only entered the MBA program together, but also our MPH program together, and I cannot wait to see what else life has in store for us.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items on my professional bucket list are to successfully launch Matcha Scrubs, and to one day have seven streams of income. While these goals may seem materialistic, it is less about the money and more so about the legacy in which I hope to leave. Generational wealth is extremely important to me, and I want to leave behind a legacy and financial stability to my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren. As a Black woman, I understand the difference that generational knowledge and wealth can make on one’s professional, health, and life outcomes, and I want to ensure that I am setting my family and community up for success, even long after I am gone.

What made MiChaela such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?
“MiChaela is the president of the student body. She exemplifies ethical governance and empathy to others key qualities in a leader. MiChaela has led the student government with extraordinary skill and has shown through her actions that she includes all perspectives in her decisions. Her dedication to community dialogue, particularly through times when discourse has been challenging, has been exceptional and has benefited the community.”

Sherilyn Scully (she/hers)
Assistant Dean
Academic Affairs and Student Life
Dean of Students
Yale School of Management


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