In the city of brotherly love, over 8,000 Black professionals attended the 45th Annual National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference under the theme of moving Forward toward new greatness. Among the many attendees, there were sixteen exceptional individuals known as the Sweet Sixteen, winners of the DC Black MBA/Raymond James Conference Scholarship. The conference scholarship program provided recipients with a complimentary standard registration, accommodations at one of the host hotels, and round-trip transportation. The scholarship was designed to provide the opportunity to students, recent graduates, and young professionals who otherwise would miss the chance to engage with corporations and organizations offering internships and career opportunities. Their experiences at the conference exemplified the transformative power of education, mentorship, and networking.

Three scholars shared their experiences: Hawa Kamal, a Global MBA student from George Washington University; Denise Morris, a part-time MBA student at Georgetown University; and Ty Cocroft, a 2nd year MBA student at the University of Maryland – College Park – Robert Smith School of Business. 

Describe the opportunity.

Hawa: This opportunity to attend the conference was enlightening. To see visionaries who look like me discuss their triumphs and failures fueled my desire to get involved and provide others with similar experiences.

Ty: To see all the visionaries in the room who look like me and also were able to discuss their triumphs and failures was more than what I needed in this moment as I navigate the corporate world pivoting my career. 

What did you gain from this experience? 

Hawa: The conference made me reconsider my career choices. It’s not just about making money; it’s also about having a passion for the work you do.

Denise: I aimed to make connections with firms and find training and intern opportunities to strengthen my resume, and I’m pleased to say this goal was accomplished.

Why are scholarships like this important?

Denise: The Raymond James Scholarship plays a crucial role in creating more inclusive opportunities for underrepresented groups, increasing diversity, and bridging the gap between talented minority students and top-tier careers.

Ty: Scholarships like this give students a chance to step out on faith and showcase their potential by simply being in the right place at the right time.

The DC Black MBA/Raymond James Conference Scholars participation in the 45th Annual NBMBAA Conference illustrate the transformative impact of education, mentorship, and networking. These scholarships are instrumental in opening doors for young Black aspiring professionals, fostering diversity, and empowering the leaders of tomorrow. The experiences of the Sweet Sixteen demonstrate that, with the right opportunities and support, remarkable achievements and meaningful connections are created. It also reminds us that when doors are opened through education and opportunity, the potential for growth and positive change is limitless. 

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