B-School Through a Math Lens

After a nontraditional education and a career in nursing, this student will begin a Yale MBA programonce she brushes up on her quantitative skills

My name is Linda Craib, and I have been accepted into the Yale School of Management Health Care Executive MBA program for 2008-10. Because I'm a woman who has had an nontraditional path to business school, I am spending the next year of my life strengthening the quantitative skills I need to become a business leader. With degrees in nursing and art history, this time leading up to Yale provides me with a wonderful opportunity to further prepare academically. My goal for the coming year is to see the beauty of mathematics beyond simple calculation.

I am passionate about quality health care and about ensuring equal access to care for all people, particularly for children. Professionally, I am a pediatric critical care registered nurse living and working in Hartford, Conn. My work within the hospital setting involves the clinical aspect of caring for children with health care needs across the spectrum: children who have experienced multiple traumas, the post-op care of infants requiring open-heart surgery for the repair of congenital heart defects, the care of a new population of young adults who are surviving heart defects that were once lethal, and the transport of critically ill children to and from my organization.

The Perfect Fit

In my role as pediatric transport specialist, I am helping with the expansion and evolution of a pediatric ground transport program that serves the special needs of children in Connecticut and the Northeast. I am involved with health for children outside the country and have volunteered with a team of doctors and nurses who provide care for children in need of cardiac surgery in Asuncion, Paraguay. My interests as a nurse go beyond the bedside, and include the image and marketing of the nursing profession and the ability of children and adults with autism to gain access to meaningful services to improve their lives.

My professional goal is to work in consulting nationally and internationally to create policy and programs that will help children get the health care they need. The Yale program, known for its commitment to creating leaders for business and society, was my first and only choice when I considered where I would apply to business school. That Yale offers an EMBA program specifically in health care makes it a great fit for my aspirations. And as a single mother with a child to support, my ability to keep working while in school it makes it possible.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, my educational path has not been a traditional one. I am 43 and the mother of three beautiful young women (Heather, Angela, and Alexa) and one beautiful grandson (Elijah). I was a teen mother who had difficulty getting health care for myself and for my baby. Although I had to put off college until I was in my early 20s, I always knew that I would continue forward when the time was right, and that I wanted to have a life where the work I did every day made a positive difference. I eventually went to community college and became a registered nurse.

Back to School

After a divorce in 1998, I decided it was time to complete my bachelor's degree and at the age of 34 I returned to my studies full time. My prior success at the community college level combined with the confidence that came though my work as a critical care nurse made me think about my dream education. I applied to three of the "Seven Sister" schools in the Northeast.

I was accepted at Mount Holyoke College into the Francis Perkins Program, which allows full- or part-time study for women who wish to complete interrupted undergraduate studies. I already had a heavy science background from nursing school, and my liberal arts studies at Mount Holyoke helped round out my education. After four wonderful years I graduated magna cum laude with honor and a degree in art history.

I had known for some time that I would eventually find my way to graduate school. My experiences in life have shaped my academic course; my education and the mentors I have found along the way have been some of the greatest gifts of my life. Each step has been a joy, each accomplishment has felt like reaching the top of a mountain, and each ascent has resulted in my seeing the world from a new perspective.

Twenty Years With No Math

In March of this year I had the good fortune to be invited to sit in on both first- and second-year classes at Yale by the program director, Randy Johnson. I knew I was where I needed to be to reach my goals. Over the course of the next 12 weeks, I reviewed math, studied diligently for the GMAT, took a Veritas class to prepare (highly recommended), and crafted my admissions essays.

On June 22, I interviewed, and on the same day I learned of my acceptance to the program. During my interviews, and through candid conversation with the admissions committee, it became clear to me that my success at Yale would depend on my strengthening my quantitative abilities. I had not taken a formal math class in over 20 years and I work with numbers as a nurse on only a computational level.

Contemporary mathematician John Allen Paulos once said: "Mathematics is no more computation than typing is literature." I am approaching my business school education with this in mind. And so I find myself waiting a year and trying to wrap my mind around the austere beauty of mathematics. Just as an art historian sees beyond the paint and canvas when considering the beauty and meaning of a work of art, so I hope to come to a place where I can view the beauty of numbers through the eyes of a mathematician.

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