Final deadline: June 30 for our Professional, Hybrid and Executive MBA programs.

Student Stories

Shyla Finley

What was your pre-MBA Industry and function?

I come from a place where there aren’t a lot of opportunities. Following high school graduation, I joined the United States Navy. The military taught me discipline and provided me the space to build goals for my life. While deployed me and my battle buddies used to discuss our dreams together. For me, one of those dreams was to obtain a college education and give back to underserved communities. I joined Teach For America, and I taught middle school science for 3 years. Some of my most memorable moments were spent in the classroom. 

What is your post-MBA Industry and function?

My post-MBA Industry is in the healthcare space. This target area allows me to combine both of my master’s degrees that I am pursuing at Rice.  The healthcare industry has presented tons of challenges, especially from the patient perspective. I will play a role in alleviating some of these challenges.

Why did you want to pursue your MBA? Why did you choose Rice Business?

I chose Rice because it is a prestigious business school. As a former educator, the quality of education that I received was important to me. I also wanted to be a role model for the students that I taught. I knew that if they saw someone who looked like them attend a reputable school, it would increase their likelihood of doing the same. 

What was your favorite memory or experience from your time at Rice? 

Shyla Finley Baby

While at Rice, I had a son. His name is Jeremiah. While pregnant the Rice community showed me tons of support. I will never forget how my colleagues took walks with me to help me remain active. Around about seven months into my pregnancy, I received gifts at my door almost daily from Rice students for my son. It resulted in us having much more than we needed! It’s difficult to put in words just how much I appreciate how much the Rice community showed me support while pregnant. 

How has the Rice MBA helped you in your career?

When I first joined the Rice MBA, I had a small vegan business. I sold baked vegan goodies. Within the first few weeks at Rice, I began to understand just how much was accessible to me. Rice forced me to dream bigger, to try harder, and challenge myself. The school also provided me with great mentors to help assist me in my goals throughout my journey. Now my dreams have evolved, and I desire much more!

What does it mean to you to be a woman in business?

Being a black woman in business means having a voice, a say so. Women in general have been silenced in certain spaces and left out of key decision-making. It puts me in the position to advocate for other women while building safe spaces for us to exchange ideas. 

What do you think organizations should do better to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive organizations?

Organizations must begin to take action to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. They should not only ensure that they have diversity within the organization but ensure that they are being inclusive. This means consistently looking at the numbers and ensuring that they have a diverse range of people within their leadership, making key decisions about the organization. They must consider the process that allows different people to rise within the organization and ensure that the process does not leave people behind. 

Shyla Finley sitting on stairs outside in front of statue

What suggestions do you have for working with allies in the workplace or at school?

When working with allies ensure that there is balance between listening and providing ideas. 

What advice would you give prospective students who are considering an MBA?

Truly understand your "why" and come back to it. Build a community of support and lean on your community. There will be times when things may get rough. But by truly understanding your "why" and having your community, you will get through it!


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