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Governance and Social Responsibility : Reaching Out, Giving Back

Leeann Christensen (left) and Courtney Martin (right)

Leeann Christensen (left) and Courtney Martin (right) graduated from the Eller MBA program in 2008.

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March 2009

By Liz Warren-Pederson

Recent MBA grads reflect on balancing volunteerism with classes

Finding time for community outreach and student leadership in the middle of a busy MBA curriculum can be tough, but it can be done. Two 2008 graduates — Leeann Christensen and Courtney Martin — were recognized with Eller MBA awards for their contributions to the community. Both have now relocated to Portland, Ore., for positions with Intel.

Leeann Christensen, now a consolidation analyst, was awarded the Rogers Award in Community Service, established by first MBA class alumnus Tom Rogers (MBA ’53) to recognize an MBA student who exemplifies volunteerism. Christensen came to the Eller MBA program from Expedia.com, which sponsored company-wide volunteer days. “I always thought it was a good way to stay involved in the community,” she says, “So when I moved to Tucson, I registered with VolunteerMatch.org and was matched with Aviva Children’s Services as a life book writer.”

The project was fun but time-consuming, so once the MBA program got underway, Christensen developed time management strategies so she could continue to give back. “I decided that single-day projects would be better,” she says. “One of the first things I organized at Eller was a volunteer day at Saguaro National Park.” Christensen contacted the park and set up a day for MBAs to clear buffelgrass, a non-native brush species. “I found that I was able to do more as the semester was starting or winding down,” she says. Christensen also coordinated an adopt-a-family effort over the holiday break and gathered a team to participate in the Arthritis Foundation’s Run for the Cure, both through the MBA Student Association.

The association also provided a jumping-off point for Courtney Martin’s engagement with the MBA community, for which she was awarded the Ray H. Johnson Award in Leadership, established by Johnson and colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers to recognize individuals whose personal and professional leadership qualities have made a substantial difference at the College.

“The Eller course load can be extremely demanding at times, so it was often very difficult to balance coursework with extracurricular activities,” Martin says. “But it was a priority for me, because it enhanced my overall experience in the program.” While at Eller, Martin was an active participant in the UA Peace Corps Fellows Program, and worked with community organizations including Catholic Relief Services and House of Neighborly Service.

While at Eller, Martin also completed the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, in which she and her team created a venture around the concept of urban agriculture. “As a team I feel we met this challenge with enthusiasm and creativity to fully articulate how our concept can enhance offerings in the marketplace, while simultaneously addressing concerns about resource conservation,” she says.

“Within my class, there were so many students that really went above and beyond in leadership roles to create a better learning, professional, and social environment for everyone,” Martin continues. “I’m proud of the opportunity I had to work with such a diverse student body and develop personal and professional relationships with my colleagues.”

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