Cristina Arellano’s career path was shaped by her childhood moving from one developing country to another due to her mother’s job in international development. As a result, Cristina grew up with continuous exposure to the social repercussions of political and economic inequality.
These experiences encouraged Cristina to pursue a BA in International Studies and, upon graduation, work for a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian and economic assistance to resource-poor communities in conflict countries. Through this work she was able to delve deeper into the issues that lie at the intersection of international development, business, and foreign policy. As Cristina notes, “Not only was I able to work with a diverse group of professionals from around the world, but I also gained a deep understanding of the harsh realities of the global issues I care about most. This exposure to professional and cultural diversity throughout my life has defined me as a person and my expectations of where I want to be in the future.”
To introduce Cristina to the CASE community, we asked her a few questions about her background and why she came to Fuqua. Welcome Cristina!
What is one of your proudest accomplishment in life thus far?
In 2006 I was a member of the Emory women’s tennis team that won the NCAA Division III National Championships. This was our fourth straight championship win. I played both singles and doubles, finishing with a 5-0 record in the championship tournament. After a long season of 5 am workouts, three-hour training sessions and weekend trips around the U.S., we achieved our ultimate goal. I will always remember my experience with the team and the girls who made that year so special. I also developed a strong appreciation for teamwork and persistence – two characteristics that I have since carried with me in my personal and professional life.
What/who inspires you?
The two people who stand out the most in my life are my mom and dad. My mom moved to Bolivia to work as a UN Volunteer in rural communities after completing her graduate program. She knew little Spanish but managed to solidify a network of friends in a new environment. She joined the U.S. Foreign Service and devoted her entire career to international development. My dad is an archaeologist, and spent his life committed to research in pre-Colombian and prehistoric archaeology throughout Latin America. My parents taught my brothers and me to value diversity and to always think beyond ourselves. Even though they invested significant time and energy in their careers, they always put us first – helping us with homework and making sure my brothers and I didn’t tear each other apart before bed time. Their stories have certainly inspired me to be where I am right now.
When I began looking at business schools a couple of years ago I knew I wanted a school with a strong reputation in social impact. When I visited Duke last fall, I was very impressed by CASE and the many individuals spearheading Fuqua’s, and Duke’s, cutting edge social impact initiatives. I also realized after my visit that the student body is one of the driving forces behind Fuqua’s leading reputation in social impact. Many students have, in some shape or form, incorporated social impact or service into their MBA experience, whether it’s actively participating in Net Impact or taking the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum. In my mind, this is something that made Fuqua stand out among other business schools, and I wanted to be a part of it!
What impact do you hope your Fuqua education will allow you to have on the world?
One of the main reasons I decided to pursue my MBA was to develop the necessary quantitative and analytical skills to make an impact in the social sector. After five years in a nonprofit work environment, I recognized how important it was to look beyond the issues and to look at the “business” of nonprofit work. I am hoping that I can use the skills I learn at business school to help nonprofits and social entrepreneurs scale and sustain their impact.
Share one of the 25 facts from your application essay?
I love bad sequels to good comedy movies. I am probably the only person who enjoyed Major League II, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and yes, even Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.