Meet Rachel Shelton, Lead Ambassador and MBA candidate

 Rachel Shelton

Program Name: MBA
Year of Graduation: 2019
Program Schedule: Part Time

Rachel began her position as the lead ambassador in January of 2018, recruiting and connecting with potential students for our graduate business programs.

What is your background?

I co-founded and directed a very small arts and youth nonprofit for 10 years, during which I was inspired to pursue a BA in child and family studies from the School of Social Work at Portland State University. Once I graduated, I began looking for a stable job that would utilize my education and experience. I had a very hard time finding anything that offered full-time work and paid a wage that would support me and my family, so I returned to school to pursue a graduate certificate in nonprofit management and public administration from PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs. During that time, the political climate was changing and nonprofits were wondering how it would affect their funding, which is what led me to The Portland MBA in The School of Business.

How has your experience been at The School of Business at Portland State?

I have been a student at PSU on and off for the last eight years. It is my second home! I love the campus and all of the resources and opportunities that are available. The MBA program is nothing like everything my progressive (radical really) parents warned me about. Every class addresses issues of sustainability and social impact. The content is challenging and stretches me to fill the gaps in knowledge about business that led me to pursue this program. What I find most valuable is acquiring and understanding tools that assist in solving complex business problems and translate to any industry. I also really value the connections I’ve made with my cohort. The bonds we form and the variety and depth of experience represented has really aided my success in this program.

Tell me about your role as lead ambassador and what brought you to this role?

I have always been interested in human development, and consequently career development. My role as lead ambassador allows me to have conversations with individuals who are at a pivot point in their development, whether they are looking to be promoted within their own companies or change careers. Some people are just trying to find something that continues their career development, but has the flexibility to allow them to focus on other aspects of their lives, such as starting a family. I love listening to people’s stories and helping them navigate their personal development.

In what ways will you be involved with both current and prospective students?

As lead ambassador, I interact with both. The School of Business has a graduate ambassador council — a group of current students from different programs within the school. I will be connecting with the other ambassadors to help them provide tours of the Karl Miller Center, the home of The School of Business. I will also be leading focus groups with current students to enhance our understanding of what leads professionals to pursue graduate education and the outcomes of advanced education. For example, I know many of my peers have been promoted since joining the MBA program, but I don’t yet know the full stories of how they leveraged their education, or what skills they already possessed that got them a seat at the table.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the optimism my professors have for the potential of business to be a tool to solve social and environmental problems. It’s really the reason I pivoted from a nonprofit administration education to a business administration education. I had grown weary of the scarcity mentality that proliferated within the nonprofit community, and most of the solutions that were posed during my nonprofit education came from for-profit tactics.

What are your future goals?

If money were no object, I would pick up where I left off when I began my secondary education journey and run an empowerment program for young women. However, I think it’d be more realistic to become an executive director of an established nonprofit organization that serves youth, or to become an executive in a benefit corporation (B Corp) that benefits positive youth development or advocacy.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate business students who are interested in your field?

Find a school that has a program that aligns with both your values and your goals. Do your research, talk to people at the school, and visit the campus if you can. Don’t get too hung up on whether your life has enough capacity to take on this important step. Many of my cohort members have full-time jobs and families, and we are getting through somehow!

Connect with Rachel

Connect with Rachel, lead ambassador for our graduate business programs. Ambassadors are a valuable resource to answer your questions about the student experience at Portland State University.

Schedule a tour of the Karl Miller Center with Rachel

Schedule a guided tour of our Karl Miller Center, the home of Portland State University’s School of Business. This 45-minute tour will highlight the history of our school, the investment of the local business community in our programs, and resources relevant to your career or educational goals.

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