Returning to the Classroom Yields Leadership Opportunity: Allison Otu '19 MBA (Executive)

Returning to the Classroom Yields Leadership Opportunity: Allison Otu '19 MBA (Executive)

March 13, 2020

Allison Otu '19 MBA (Executive)

Allison Otu

Back in 2003, and like most of her college friends, Allison Otu ’19 MBA thought the end of the road for her education would come on graduation day, once she had her diploma from Ball State University in hand. Then it would be time to get to work.

So she was a bit surprised when she found herself, some fifteen years later, back in the classroom.

“When I began working at the University of Arizona, my spark to go back to school was reignited,” she says. As the director of outreach and communications at the university’s College of Medicine-Phoenix, she had a front row seat when Eller moved to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and she thought it might be a sign “that I needed to apply there. So I did.”

The decision paid off. After receiving her MBA in 2019, she was appointed executive director of corporate and community relations of the University of Arizona Health Sciences.

The health-related career path makes sense for Otu. For the past six years, she has led the Connect2STEM event in which anyone in the community is invited to learn about what faculty, staff and students at the University of Arizona Health Sciences do. This event is especially beneficial to young children who are able to explore science and get a glimpse of what they could do with their future.

“I wanted to do something that was true to our mission, which is to build this continuous pipeline of young people about wanting to become doctors, nurses and pharmacists and what better way to do it, than to introduce them to existing professionals,” says Otu. Since it started, the event has drawn approximately 40,000 attendees over six years.

At the event, she finds a way to meld her Eller experience with the event theme. She says: “The tagline for Eller is ‘Transform at Eller’, and the type of experience that families walk away with at the Connect2STEM is transformational, especially for young girls and for people of color who haven’t met students they can resonate with. This event can plant a seed in their heads and help them realize that they can achieve anything.”

Just as Otu herself realized. While going back to school as an adult was challenging, especially while juggling a demanding full-time job and a multi-faceted home life, she found a solid support system within Eller that helped her every step of the way.

“The best part about going back to school as an adult is that—though you’re quite humbled—you realize your professors are there to help you succeed,” she says. “The whole Eller experience taught me that I too am a leader. That is so valuable to me.”

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