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Student Perspectives: Five Facts from Fall Quarter

About Fiorella: Fiorella Mejia (‘22) graduated from Brown University with a degree in International Relations – Political Economy and Development.  After graduation, she returned home to Los Angeles and primarily has worked on large-scale capital construction programs throughout the city, most recently as a Project Manager on LACCD’s $9.6B bond program.  At Anderson, she seeks to learn more about the intersection of an MBA and social impact, particularly in operations and impact investing.   

I had no idea what to expect from my first year at Anderson.  With a raging pandemic and systemic inequities so blatant that even those unaccustomed to reflect on them had to take notice, 2020 was a momentous albeit tumultuous year for many, including myself.  The world drastically changed, and my initial vision for my Anderson experience required re-examination and re-imagining.  I had to remain flexible, open, and patient as the journey unfolded.  Now, with fall quarter behind me (bye 2020!), five facts stood out:

  1. Community transcends circumstance. Due to my living arrangements, I adhered to a strict quarantine that severely limited my exposure to non-household people.  Before starting school, I grew resigned to my recluse state and prepared myself for a more solitary experience at Anderson.  To my surprise, I managed to connect with amazing classmates, staff, and alums through Zoom happy hours, Slack threads, and group work.  I forged several strong relationships that have carried me through the busy fall quarter. The Anderson community is strong, omnipresent, and inclusive; all I had to do was reach and engage.
  2. Non-traditional vs. traditional background is a non-issue. Coming from a “non-traditional” background, I worried about the relevance of my professional experiences and my ability to add to discussions. I was astounded by the diversity of backgrounds at Anderson, and I realized that the line between ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ was a mental construct more than a reality.  We each contributed to our shared success with our personal experiences, unique feedback, and individual working styles.
  3. Strong communication is paramount. Group work is the bedrock of Anderson academics and culture, and throughout the fall quarter, I found myself on several teams, each consisting of individuals with varying interests, priorities, and goals. Successful collaboration was predicated on our ability to communicate with one another openly.  After group meetings, I reflected on what worked and what did not work for me and then shared the information with my teammates.  We cultivated safe spaces to speak up.  By clearly expressing my expectations, responsibilities, and needs, I became a much better teammate and classmate.
  4. Mental health is everything. Due to core courses, recruiting, extracurriculars, fall quarter requires a lot of mental bandwidth. On any given week, my ability to tend to my mental health would dictate my stamina and focus.  To ensure well-being, I asked for help, took more breaks, accepted more mistakes, and became more intentional in my choices.  As a rehabilitating perfectionist, I found these moments incredibly difficult and humbling, but I ultimately was able to juggle school, work, and life.  It did not look close to perfect, but I had to embrace the messy reality to stay sane and well.
  5. Each person has his/her/their journey. Imposter syndrome is real and rarely rational.  Surrounded by driven and accomplished classmates, I questioned by path constantly:  “Should I recruit for that company? Should I join that club? Would I be BCOrphaned and have no capstone group?” Thankfully, I leaned on my Anderson support network to commiserate and lift myself up.  Each Anderson student has a journey and rarely are two identical.  As Parker constantly reminds us, I had to trust the process and know that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Student Blogger: Fiorella Mejia ‘22 

Undergrad: Brown University (‘10) – B.A. International Relations

Pre-MBA: Executive Project Manager, Jacobs   

Leadership@Anderson: First-Year Director, Admissions Ambassador Corps; Director of Finance, Net Impact; First-Year Director, Anderson Venture Impact Partners (AVIP)

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