Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business first-year Full-time MBA student Grace Stewart’s resilience and independence has come from one very important person in her life – her mom.
“I was raised in a one-parent home with no siblings, so my mom has always been the bedrock of my universe,” said Stewart. “I know how hard it was for her as a young single mother, but she met every challenge with a level head and optimism. By watching my mom, I learned how to be fearlessly independent and adaptable to anything life throws my way.”
Stewart, a North Carolina native, has been profiled by Poets&Quants as a part of their First-Generation MBAs series. In the series, Poets&Quants spotlights the MBA students who were the first in their families to pursue a college degree. Aside from celebrating these students, they wanted to look at the impact that being a first-generation student has had on the next phase of their educational journey – graduate business school.
Prior to joining the Scheller Full-time MBA program, Stewart was a double major in Theater and English at the University of South Carolina. Following graduation, Stewart headed west to Los Angeles, where she learned to weave complex stories for unscripted television. While working on a reality series about drift racing, Stewart recorded voiceover work that made it into the final show, technically making her a Netflix actor. After a few years in entertainment, she moved back to the South and began telling corporate stories in marketing and communications.
When Stewart met her boyfriend, he had just been admitted to his MBA program, opening her eyes to the graduate business education and its opportunities. She chose to pursue an MBA because it would allow her to round out her business skills and provide an opportunity for her to pivot to a more strategic role.
“I had a few priorities for my MBA program - smaller cohort size, good value or financial assistance, and strong career services. Scheller hit all of those easily and happened to be in Atlanta, where I was already located. I also found an unexpected benefit to Scheller’s MBA program, which is that it attracts a lot of engineers and quantitative experts. I knew that wasn’t going to be my value-add to the program, but I wanted to go to a school where I could learn from and round out the skills of my peers,” said Stewart.
Stewart will continue to utilize her resilience as she pursues her MBA and a career in consulting or corporate strategy, with an interest in roles that leverages her experience in the entertainment industry.
“The advice I have for first-generation college students is that you will likely have to work harder than a lot of your peers,” Stewart said. “You might not have all the connections, inside knowledge, or financial support that they have. You might be juggling problems they never have to think about. But I have always found that my two most valuable skills are problem-solving and resilience, and those are things you develop when you look at all the doors that are closed to you and find a way to open one anyway.”