Updated: Sep 15, 2022
So... a lot has changed since I was last active on this blog two years ago. I got divorced, moved downtown, promoted to shift lead, finished my undergraduate degree, and got into an MBA program.
I wanted to share the personal statement essay that I submitted with my application for my MBA program since it encapsulates the past few years of my life, serving as convenient way to update with what I've been up to for the past couple of years since I last made a post on this blog.
Hi, I'm back! :D
PERSONAL STATEMENT ESSAY
Prompt: What does the admissions committee need to know while considering your application? Tell us the part of your story that is not in the application documents (no word or length requirement).
“Flexibility is the key to airpower.” I heard this phrase every week when I drove to the University of North Texas as a cross-town cadet in the Air Force ROTC program years ago. Back then, I had no idea how applicable this quote would be to every aspect of my life for years to come. While I was pursuing my undergraduate degree, I moved in with my parents to save money on housing, as my goal was to obtain an undergraduate degree without any student debt. Unfortunately, when my parents divorced due to irreconcilable differences, I was suddenly out of a place to stay and left with a bill for the rest of my college tuition. I recalled a conversation with an Air Force ROTC recruiter and realized that I would be competitive for a scholarship if I signed up, so I called the local detachment and the rest was history.
As luck had it, I was indeed competitive for the Commander’s Scholarship and ended up being one of the two cadets awarded with a full scholarship and stipend at the end of my first year in the program. I excelled in the program and even graduated from Field Training as Superior Performer, which meant I was ranked second out of my entire flight in the officer version of basic training. I didn’t even expect it - I wasn’t the most knowledgeable when it came to customs and ceremonies, and I wasn’t even the best at marching, but I cared about everyone in my flight and I always made sure that we succeeded as a team. My leadership team recognized my people-first mentality and knew that I had a bright future ahead of me in the Air Force.
But of course, just when things were going great, something unexpected happened - I was medically disqualified from the Air Force ROTC program. My plans for the future washed away before my eyes: I was jobless, I didn’t have a degree, and I didn’t want to go into debt. I had to figure something out. “Flexibility is the key to airpower,” after all! I was married, but I was the breadwinner so I took a break from college and started working three jobs to keep things afloat.
I applied to jobs in IT, as I knew that I could pass a technical interview and get hired without a degree. Months went by before I got an interview, but I finally heard back from IBM and eventually I got the job! Within my first year in the company, I noticed some gaps in employee engagement and support and I became involved in employee-led initiatives. My first initiative was the IBM Cloud Women of Datacenter Operations Business Resource Group. There weren’t many women in my department and I saw the opportunity to provide support and build a community across our global datacenter team.
As I continued working with IBM as a datacenter technician, I continued to take on more duties to improve the lives of my fellow employees via another employee-led group, called the Datacenter Operations PACT (Performance, Accountability, and Continuous Improvement Team). In this team, I have managed multiple high-profile projects with executive involvement, established and maintained a monthly newsletter with the intent of increasing transparency between the senior management and technicians in my department, and pushed for multiple initiatives to improve the work environment for technicians throughout our global datacenters. It all comes back to the people-first mentality that made me shine during my time in Air Force ROTC. If you take care of your people, they will take care of you by putting forth excellent quality work.
In 2019, I decided to go back to school and finish my undergraduate degree as I was finally at a place financially where I could make that decision. At first, it was difficult to manage the increased demands from juggling my professional priorities, my academic priorities, and my personal priorities, but I figured out a system and was able to manage everything after a few months. However, just as I started to get into the swing of things, something unexpected happened yet again and my life situation became a bit more difficult. Just as I started my final semester of college, I ran into a domestic violence situation in my marriage and I needed to leave urgently. The words “flexibility is the key to airpower,” rang in my head as I made my next moves.
I communicated with my professors, my boss, my family, and my friends, letting them know as much as I was comfortable sharing at the time. I remained calm, made a plan, and took it one day at a time. When graduation came around, I was almost in disbelief that I made it through the semester. On December 14th, 2020 I attended my virtual graduation ceremony and my final decree of divorce came in the mail. Two massive stressors in my life finished on the same day; it was surreal.
Once I completed my undergraduate degree, I decided that I would stay with IBM and continue working in IT as I found my passion in helping others and I enjoy the corporate environment. Since I graduated, I spent the last year exploring different aspects of the business via my involvement in different projects and teams so I could better understand how I would like to proceed with my career. I realized that in order to effect any organizational change, I would need to either climb the management chain or pursue a graduate degree.
Through the Texas Tech Professional MBA program with a focus on Big Data Strategy, I intend to further enhance my understanding of business operations and my ability to make data-driven decisions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my involvement with executive leadership, it’s that it’s much easier to get buy-in on initiatives and projects if you can prove your claims with data. My goal is to effect organizational change by placing a focus on employees to drive success of the business, and I know that an MBA with a focus on Big Data Strategy will provide me with the training and skills that I will need to achieve this goal.