MARK W. NELSON: I'd like to invite a few of our recent scholarship recipients to talk about what that support has meant to them. Amanda, you're a current student at Johnson, but you also have an MPA. Can you tell us more?
AMANDA WARD: So my name is Amanda Ward. I am a Cornell MPA grad from 2015 and have returned to Ithaca as a one-year residential student at Cornell Johnson, graduating this May. I grew up in Buffalo, New York in a working-class neighborhood and always knew that I would attend college, but didn't realize just how important a higher education would be for me.
Having developed a unique project management skill set within the public sector, I realized I wanted to come back to Cornell and pursue my MBA to focus on data-driven strategy and operations in order to assist businesses in creating sustainable, trustworthy brands. And Johnson's strength in sustainable business strategy seemed like a perfect fit.
However, applying for an MBA was a risk, and I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to afford it. Entering in an MBA program from a nontraditional background is, quite frankly, terrifying. I knew I would be at a disadvantage to my peers. I had never heard of concepts like time value of money before. I knew it would take effort to catch up with my classmates, but I was willing to put in the hours.
One question kept on nagging me, though. How was I going to afford my MBA if my schoolwork kept me from working? When I received my acceptance letter and saw the scholarship award, I was humbled, grateful, and over-the-moon excited. The Johnson Scholarship Award was one of the main reasons that Johnson topped my list of schools. It offered me the security I needed to focus on my studies while pivoting my career and not having to worry about finances or how long my monthly budget would last me.
I've continued to work hard in this program. I took the challenges of data analytics and was even offered a TA position based on my performance after the class ended. I had never even participated in a case competition prior to Johnson, and this fall, I actually took on the lead as a co-chair, helping to organize the Emerging Markets Institute Fourth Annual Case Competition. I've also joined the board of the SG Club, I'm a class agent, and I currently serve on the student graduation committee.
I am also very happy that after fall recruiting this year, I was offered three positions and have accepted a job at Amazon this summer, a position I honestly never would have thought would have been possible for me prior to Johnson. I've grown tremendously here, both as a student and as a leader. And this journey would not have been possible without the generous support of my scholarship funding. Thank you so much, Dean Nelson, for inviting me here today, and to the audience for listening to my story. I urge you to support more students like me and contribute to the scholarship [? in ?] the Drive for 75. Thank you. Go Big Red.
MARK W. NELSON: Oh, thank you, Amanda. That was wonderful.
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Amanda Ward MPA '15, MBA '21 describes the impact of scholarship support on her academic career at Johnson, and her plans to use her graduate business education for the greater good.