When she began looking at schools, she was drawn most to Kelley.
“When I came to campus, I knew that this was the right place to be,” Watkins said. “That feeling was strong enough to overcome the knowledge that this wasn’t the most convenient school for my family.”
Watkins and her husband made a tough decision to live separately in two cities while she pursued her MBA. Watkins lived in Bloomington with her infant son and her husband continued living in Chicago with their now three-year-old.
Kelley builds strength
Even though Watkins had to spend time away from her family in order to earn her degree, she says the experience has made her a better mother.
“I know through Kelley I’ve become a stronger woman, wife, and mother,” Watkins said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
This newfound strength in all areas of her life has allowed her to redefine what success means.
“Before Kelley, my work was about providing for my family and doing what I knew I could do well,” Watkins said. “After Kelley, I became very comfortable with saying, ‘work is what makes me feel fulfilled’. It’s the freedom to pursue what makes me happy and brings me joy.
“The culture at Kelley is accepting and supportive,” she said. “They’re truly working to make you successful.”
Kelley offers unique opportunities
During Watkins’ second year in the program, she worked on creating the first Eddie C. Brown Professional Development Summit. The summit aims to enhance matriculating Consortium students’ self-awareness of their skills and advance their understanding of how their skills and preferences compare to those of experienced managers and executives. Students participating in the summit develop a plan to maximize their performance within the cultural context of their respective post-MBA organization.
“I believe this summit will have an impact on the preparation of future leaders that Kelley is sending into the marketplace and will help position them for executive positions within their firms,” she said.
After working for six months to pitch ideas, build organizational alignment, secure necessary funding, negotiate the contracts, and coordinate all of the logistics, she saw her vision come to life at a workshop.
Watkins encourages incoming students to follow her lead.
“Seize every opportunity that you can,” she said. “Find opportunities to lead, to travel, to explore new things, and to learn about groups different from yourself so that you can leave equipped to lead in an increasingly global workplace.”