A Gift That Passes On | Leeds School of Business

Scholarships play a crucial role for aspiring executives pursuing an MBA in Leeds.

Forget how she found the money. How did Shay Cardenas find time for her MBA?

Shay Cardenas in professional attire against a blue background.But finances are also important. When Cardenas enrolled, she was still paying off student loans from her undergraduate work at CU Denver, “and I was pretty much living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “The idea of ​​quitting my job and going back to school was scary.”

Consider this: Cardenas (MBA’22) enrolled in the full-time program but worked part-time for six months after a successful internship in Ford’s human resources department. She’s a busy mother of three who needed extra attention as the pandemic closed their schools. And she’s been heavily involved outside of the curriculum—notably as co-president of Women in Business and president of external relations for the Net Impact Case Competition.

“I stayed busy,” said Cardenas, who is now an HR business associate at Ford.

Faces of Leeds: Meet Shay Cardenas

Aid came to Cardenas in the form of grants. While scholarships are typically associated with undergraduate programs, more supporters are coming forward as they recognize the role aid plays in ensuring the best students enroll.

For Anne Dupont (MBA’78), supporting PhD students is a way of repaying her own experience in Leeds.

Improving diversity in graduate programs

“I want more students to be able to take advantage of CU,” said Dupont, whose MBA helped her advance to senior leadership positions at Accenture over more than 20 years at the company. “And I want to continue Leeds’ efforts to have a more diverse student body in its graduate programmes. When you have differences in thoughts, opinions, ethnicities, lifestyles, whatever it may be, it adds to the richness of experience and the richness of thought.”

She helped pioneer the female consultant in the professional services world in the late 1970s. She helped lead Accenture’s women’s initiative in Denver and, as a member of the Leeds Advisory Board, has made mentoring of female PhD students a priority.

Gold bullion section dividers

“Companies talk a lot about wanting more diversity in the C-suite. You do that through programs like the MBA.”

Kristi Ryujin, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Special Assistant to the Dean for Faculty DEI

“I was so incredibly impressed with our graduate students — how they think, their risk-taking, their courage, their confidence — and those are things that an MBA can give you,” she said.

Cardenas certainly fits into that mold. She saw the MBA as her ticket to greater challenges and more fulfilling opportunities.

“Making the decision to go to graduate school and forego income is a hurdle for many people in my position, but I’ve always viewed this as an investment in myself,” she said, adding that she earns more money than she owes in loans for the first time. “There is no way I could have gotten this job at Ford without this degree and the support I received from Leeds.”

rethink help

This type of track record is why Kristi Ryujin, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Special Assistant to the Dean of Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, is interested in reconsidering graduate scholarship awards.

For a student, need-based assistance is determined by family income, “but in a graduate program — even if you’re a 22-year-old fresh out of college — you’re considered independent,” Ryujin said. “As a result, it looks like everyone has similar needs, regardless of whether your family can contribute financially to your degree.”

Ryujin is working to include factors like current debt burden in Leeds’ formula for granting aid, along with considerations like first-generation status and student Pell eligibility: “If you already have $50,000 in student debt, how do you make grad school work? ?” She said.

And it’s also of practical value for companies to find ways to help underrepresented or first-generation students graduate.

“Companies talk a lot about wanting more diversity in the C-suite,” Ryujin said. “You do that through programs like the MBA. For diversity to be reflected in the C-suite, we need to make sure graduate education is affordable for all talented students – or we’ll never see the changes at the top we’re talking about.”

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MBA meets ROI

A 2021 analysis by Poets&Quants, a leader in business school reporting and rankings, found that MBA graduates from the top 50 business schools in the US earn an average salary of $5.7 million upon graduation and 35 years of service Earning dollars – a $2.3 million bounty over that with just a bachelor’s degree. This does not take into account other benefits such as share-based payments or retirement benefits.


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