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Dear Anderson [Kelly Mellenthin ’20]

Dear Anderson: A series of letters written by our Class of 2020 graduates reflecting on their UCLA Anderson MBA journey.

Dear Anderson,

In the Spring of 2017, I sat in Manhattan Prep’s NYC Chelsea office at a UCLA Anderson information session led by Dean of Student Affairs, Rob Weiler. There, amidst a group of MBA-hopefuls in an uncomfortably steamy room to offset the frigid not-yet spring snowy weather outside, Rob’s boasts of an always-sunny Los Angeles campus sounded too good to be true. That said, what sounded even more absurd was Rob’s promise of a “transformative, not transactional” experience. As if – people go to business school for the degree, cooler job and higher salary, who gets “transformed”? Oh was I wrong.

I am not the same person I was sitting in that Manhattan office building three years ago. I have been pushed, stretched, challenged and molded into a leader confident to take on our world’s most complex business challenges. I am who I am today because of Anderson and the community it fosters. Because as we all know (or will learn) – it takes a village.

This village supported me through my desire to double-pivot my career, switching both industry and function, and supported me so well that I didn’t quite realize how lofty the goal was until after I achieved it. From meeting with my 2nd year ACT coaches last year, to attending countless mock interview prep sessions with essentially every Parker Advisor, to meeting with 30+ alumni (at a near 100% response rate), I attribute my success at securing my dream summer internship in Operations Strategy at Nike to the 50+ Anderson students, faculty and alumni who selflessly supported my growth to attain it.

It was in this internship that I learned the power of connection and collaboration. Up until business school, I fared very well at work without asking for help. It took Anderson and Nike to teach me that, while one can indeed be strong individually, you can be so much stronger as a part of a team. No project, whether it be for school or work, is complete without its parts, and being able to acknowledge where your weaknesses are turns them into strengths much faster than pretending you don’t have them. In June, I walk away with a better understanding of myself, and stronger ability to support others in their personal growth journey.

As I prepare to graduate in a few months, one of the thoughts I keep returning to pertains to legacy. How can we maintain this incredible culture of support and collaboration? I’m proud of my contribution to our legacy as VP Interviewing AAC, in which I oversaw the interview process of 1000+ interviews conducted by 100+ student interviewers to ensure we attract and admit candidates who believe in our culture. Selfishly, this role gave me exposure to leadership en masse and the confidence to assume leadership roles outside of school in the future. I also took on the role of Parker TA, helping our existing first year students navigate the summer internship recruitment process. Collectively, I hope my contribution in both roles generates a new class of students eager to buy into our collaborative culture, as well as a new group of soon-to-be alumni eager to support the new students as our alumni community supported me.

To Anderson: Thank you for taking the chance on a skeptic and transforming me into the leader and person I’ve become. While personal growth is a lifelong journey, I’ve never felt more equipped for the ride and attribute that entirely to the community Anderson has cultivated. While we may physically leave in 2020, Anderson is now a part of us for a lifetime and I am forever grateful.


Kelly Mellenthin

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