Ds Scholarship

Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Edward Patterson, Columbia Business School

“A public servant passionate about making a noticeable difference in the lives of marginalized people.”

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I got my first passport in January of 2020. Sadly, my first international trip got canceled due to the pandemic, but I’m hoping to add a few stamps during my time at CBS.

Undergraduate School and Major: Eastern Michigan University with a BS in Political Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Senate as Press Secretary to US Senator Chris Murphy

What word best describes the Columbia Business School MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Supportive. CBS students and alumni have a pay it forward mentality. Everyone that I reached out to during the application process, and once admitted, answered any question that I had, and if they couldn’t, they would connect me with someone else from the community who could. Everyone seemed willing to help.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Columbia Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise stood out for its unparalleled access and experiential learning opportunities for someone like me trying to break into the industry. I plan to fully take advantage of the social enterprise curriculum, student clubs, and in-semester internships to give me a competitive advantage in the industry. I plan to use the skills to start a non-profit to remove the barriers placed on children in underserved communities and provide a space for kids to channel their passions into long term success.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Columbia Business School? I’m really excited about CBS Matters, a program within the school that gives students and faculty a platform to share intimate stories about themselves with their peers. I enjoy being around people and getting to know everything about them, especially if we don’t share similar backgrounds. I’ve been very impressed thus far with how open some of my classmates are upon first meeting. The courage to share these stories will go a long way in helping to fosters lifelong relationships within our class.

What makes New York City such a great place to earn an MBA? I’d say New York City is the greatest place to get an MBA. Access and accessibility matter! This may seem like a no-brainer to those of us who chose CBS as our first choice, but it’s hard to underestimate just how important location is to your MBA experience. In NYC, I can meet with industry leaders in class or at a coffee shop instead of setting up a virtual call or travel. I’m able to take advantage of in-semester internships, giving me that on-the-job training that I probably wouldn’t normally get everywhere else. It’s also just an all-around great place to live.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At the White House, I worked in the office responsible for facilitating and responding to all incoming correspondence addressed to President Obama, including selecting 10 letters daily for the president to read. Early in my tenure, I came across a powerful letter that a teacher wrote to the president about citizenship and the similarities they shared. I was able to elevate the letter to my director who sent it to the president himself. Upon reading, the president requested that the teacher be invited to the photo line when he visited the teacher’s town. This was one of my proudest moments as a public servant, being able to connect people with their government.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? The COVID-19 pandemic and slow pace of systemic social change in this country over the past year was a major part of my decision to ultimately pursue an MBA. I realize that here I can more quickly drive social impact in my community in the private sector. COVID-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color; the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police, and renewed calls for racial justice that followed; and the inability of our government to take care of its own during a global pandemic have underscored this mission. The past year has been tough but motivates me to be the change maker and leader in my community I have always thrived to be.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? My time working for the federal government really helped inform my decision to pursue an MBA. During those years, where we’re often working on very large initiatives, I was able to figure out what I am most passionate about and use my MBA to begin working towards those goals.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? NYU Stern, Michigan Ross, Northwestern Kellogg, and UCLA Anderson.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Columbia Business School’s MBA program? The advice I would give to any prospective student is to not try to play the role of a member of the admissions team. Don’t waste precious space on your application telling them what you think they want to hear. The application process is a great opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and what drives you. Let it shine. Use the excitement that comes with being accepted to CBS to motivate you to put together the most complete application. Engage with the CBS community throughout the process and demonstrate that you are passionate about getting your MBA from CBS. The rest will fall into place.

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