Christina Cowperthwait, ’19, ’20 (MBA) loves animals and giving back to her community. And she has a strong entrepreneurial mindset. At Meredith, she found ways to explore her passions and gain the self-assurance and knowledge to move steadily toward her goal of one day owning a business. Key to that plan was pursuing her MBA through Meredith’s accelerated, or 4+1, program.
“I chose to earn my MBA through the 4+1 program because I valued the opportunity to continue my education without taking a break. I believe if I had taken a break from school it would have been very difficult for me to return to a graduate program shortly after starting a new job.”
A business administration major, she was a two-time finalist and award recipient in Meredith’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, winning $1,000 each time with proposals that related to her interest in caring for animals. Both built on her extensive background working with kennels and animal rescue facilities. She also used her experience to mentor other participants in the Challenge.
“I want to figure out where my niche is. I want to open a business related to animals, but I want it to be on the happier side of things. If I worked in an adoption center I would want to bring every animal home.”
Christina was born with an eye condition called congenital nystagmus and strabismus, and has had multiple surgeries to improve her vision. She was motivated by her personal experiences to take on an internship with the Bryce Martin Foundation, an organization founded by Megan Martin, assistant professor of management information systems at Meredith, which supports visually-impaired children and their families.
She held diverse roles with the foundation, from digital marketing intern, volunteer, grant writer, event planner, and project manager with the Foundation.
“Dr. Martin helped me get involved and give back to a group I can relate to.” In describing a presentation she gave at the Foundation’s festival, Christina said, “I think it gives parents hope to see that someone who has a visual impairment can succeed in school.”
Christina found another mentor in Department Chair & Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Nathan Woolard. She studied abroad with him in Peru. That was when he first suggested that she consider the MBA 4+1 program. Christina was one of two students who was accepted into the accelerated program, which allowed her to earn her MBA in just one year.
“He’s always pushed me and rooted for me in a great way. He’s really supported my growth,” she said. “No matter what I can go to him – for advice or a recommendation letter.”
Christina’s business activities have been wide-ranging, from her involvement with Raleigh Founded, a North Carolina-based entrepreneurial co-working community, to starting an Investment Fund Club. As an MBA student, she was selected as the MBA Student of the Year, awarded the Lois Fraizer award for 2020, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Since graduating, she also earned a CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certificate, provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
She landed a new job after completing the program, and said she felt her MBA was a deciding factor.
“The job market was not what I imagined it would be when I began the program. I applied to nearly 75 jobs and only heard back from a handful of companies,” said Cowperthwait. “I decided to attend Meredith’s Virtual Career Fair and am so grateful that I did. I received an invite to interview with one of the companies and later accepted a position. I believe having my MBA at such a young age set me apart from other more experienced candidates who might have only had a B.S.”
And although she came to Meredith full of confidence, her experiences and the community she built helped her become even stronger and more at home in her own skin.
“Meredith has taught me about myself and pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Overall I’ve grown as a leader in the sense of how I communicate and the strengths and weaknesses I have. The network I’ve built is amazing.”