During her first year at San Diego State in 2017, Sarah Cooper and a group of fellow graduate students went out for happy hour to celebrate the end of finals week when she learned a surprising fact.
“I discovered that this was everyone’s first time hanging out with fellow MBA students that didn’t involve studying. I was appalled!” she recalled. “Most of the MBA students at SDSU are part-time which means they are in school for three-to-four years. We already had the Graduate Business Student Association which was active on campus, but I thought we could provide our students with more.”
Cooper assembled five of her female MBA classmates and they established a chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) at SDSU’s Fowler College of Business. “Women, especially, are so empowered when they can find a group of resilient women with strong mindsets,” she said. “So we launched NAWMBA for our peers to benefit from active professional networking opportunities among students at our school and surrounding areas.”
Cooper, a native of Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York, moved to San Diego in 2017 when her fiancé (now husband), a member of the U.S. Navy, was transferred from Upstate New York to Naval Air Coronado near San Diego. She had been researching graduate business programs at the time and the move to the West Coast prompted her decision to pursue her MBA at San Diego State.
But the change in scenery did not alter her commitment to community involvement. Prior to establishing the SDSU chapter of NAWMBA and becoming the chapter’s president, she served as both a staff member and a volunteer at the local YMCA in New York. After moving to California, she continued her public service where she coordinated a volunteer day during her internship at Shake Smart with Children’s Hospitals, and she currently helps fellow graduate students as a peer advisor with the Fowler College of Business. “You learn so much about yourself when you give back to the community,” said Cooper. “I will always choose to be an active community member wherever I end up. I see the value in helping others the way that I have been helped in the past.”
At the moment, Cooper is helping her husband to market his custom-design furniture business that he operates out of their home, but she will take on a new responsibilities when she earns in MBA in May 2019. “With the help of all the resources made available to SDSU students, I landed an amazing position at Mercer Consulting in La Jolla, California,” she said. “I will be a senior benefits analyst where I will assist mid-to-large sized California companies choose the best healthcare options for their employees.”
Cooper says that after graduation, the plans to stay active at SDSU through her continued support of SDSU’s NAWMBA chapter and with the SDSU alumni association. “I feel a very strong bond with the SDSU community. They have helped me pave the way to these new opportunities here in California.”