If I had been told, years back, that I would be attending business school in my early 30s, I would not have believed it. Clearly, life sometimes defies either logic or expectation. I went to college not because my parents expected me to go. In fact, they discouraged me from leaving the nest. I went to college because my high school English teacher, Bill Le Noble, pushed me to apply, as he did the rest of my classmates in his honors class. I also yearned for the adventure promised by leaving the past behind.
College gave me a fierce determination to succeed where nobody in my family ever had. Going to college without my family's full support wasn't easy, but I made it work. The classroom turned me on to public service in the same way that my mother always encouraged me to "save others." I became deeply involved in student organizations and with student government.
After graduating from college I moved to Washington, D.C., to continue my work in the public sector. For three years I worked for a congressman who represented California's Central Valley. I worked on major policy areas like labor, the environment, and foreign affairs.
I was living in D.C. when the 2001 terror attacks happened. These senseless acts of violence produced a striking shift in my view of the world and renewed my commitment to education and public service.
In 2003 I moved back to my home state of California. I went from working in politics to working with nonprofit organizations focused on improving college access for disadvantaged children. In the process of helping others learn the power of education, I began to wonder about my own learning and what I wanted for myself. In speaking with MBA graduates, I once heard the following: The MBA experience is an opportunity to hit the reset button and "start over," while making good use of the knowledge and skills that the student brings to the classroom.
Three years ago (prospective students take note) I began researching MBA programs. I visited schools; I interviewed MBA students and graduates; I attended MBA recruiting events to network with admissions representatives. The MBA experience, I learned, could strengthen my analytical skills and enrich my personal and professional growth. In my multiple jobs after college, I rarely had the opportunity to work in quantitative settings. In remaking myself, I want to own the faculties of a resourceful and effective manager. Most important, the MBA experience would help me make the move from the public to the private sector.
Mecca for Mentoring
In the process of researching and visiting schools, I soon realized that UCLA Anderson was my preferred choice. I felt I belonged there the minute I stepped onto UCLA's beautiful North Campus. Current students invited me to lunch and admissions representatives were immediately accessible. Across the board, UCLA Anderson is a leader in teaching and mentoring. Some of my best and most productive relationships during and after college have been with my professors, so these priorities were crucially important to me. Since the start of classes only four weeks ago, my intellectual and strategic capabilities have been stretched almost past limit. Fortunately, UCLA Anderson professors are aware of this intense pace and check with students to make sure that we are keeping up.
Beyond intellectual challenges, I was also looking for a school with the right resources to help me find a job after graduation. The Parker Career Management Center counselors at UCLA Anderson help students navigate the process of writing effective resumes, finding summer internships, and, ultimately, scoring a job. I needed a place that would support my decision to make the leap from ignorance to proficiency and from the public to the private sector.
As of this writing, I finished week four of my first 10-week quarter at B-school. I will spend this weekend preparing for my first final at the end of week five and midterms in three other classes during week six. In between these class commitments, I have to juggle a personal life, recruit for an internship, and engage in student clubs and meetings with my study group, as well as daily phone calls to Mom. A few of these tasks have had to suffer (sorry, Mom), but I am well on the way to transforming myself and my future.