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DBA Business Administration, Africa

February 24, 2012

Coming to America from Liberia in 1980 was critically important for the survival of my family. Liberia was in the midst of an attempted coup, resulting in the deaths of government officials by firing squad and history had already repeated itself for my family. My paternal great-grandfather, vice president James E. Smith of the Republic of Liberia resigned shortly after President Roye was shot and killed by the opposition. While my father had come from a political family, Liberia's decades of corruption hindered his success. My father's death when I was 16 left me with nowhere to turn, I became a child bride to an abusive man, the father of my two children. Leaving Liberia with my husband for the States meant I was to fend for not only my own future, but also that of my children and my baby sister.

In America, I heard my grandmother's words coming back to me, that education was the key to a better future and her stories of the doctors, and lawyers our family produced, people that I had known and respected. I worked my way through college and graduate school always with my daughter's voice, encouraging me to go as far as I can, never letting me forget my life's dreams. I did not learn time management skills from a book, I learned it going to school, raising my family, and working full-time. While my employer, Ernst & Young, paid for my graduate education, the funding was cut off when I was made redundant. One more hurdle, but nothing compared to surviving civil war, poverty, abuse and the threat of death back home. Escape was well worth the challenges and prejudice I experienced working in America in the 1980s as an African woman. I take heart in Nelson Mandela's wisdom, that, as a person of color, there are many who seek to sabotage your future, but it is more important to make your enemies your friends, to work with them, rather than feeling bitter. Like Ma Ellen, I too have developed a "toughness" of many years of being an African woman professional in a male-dominated world.

While I have spent most of my adult life in the US, I divided my time between New York, Liberia and South Africa, with professional responsibilities in each place. Having traveled throughout Africa, Europe and the US, I have seen these places within the context of my purpose, building upon my extensive education in business, bringing clarity to my understandings of creative ways that we might seek to address global economic relationships with Africa. With every step in these amazing places, despite the dizzying array of their individual histories, I have found my own path with increasing clarity.

Liberia did not begin, of course, with the repatriation of American slaves. There were already well established indigenous peoples in the area with their own established talents and experiences and relationships had to be built between these newly repatriated brothers and sisters and the dream of a new African country for all. This very same spirit of diversity is echoed through the words of Gregory of Nyssa, who spoke of unity in diversity, saying, The distinction between the persons does not impair the oneness of nature, nor does the shared unity of essence lead to confusion between the distinctive characteristics of the person. I feel that I embody this sense of diversity, will bring this to future academic projects, and instill this celebration of diversity in all that I work with.

The DBA program at XXXX, focusing on strategy, is more than simply a logical progression for my academic career. While I have maintained a conceptual continuity in my academics, with each degree leading into the next, the DBA program will allow me to conduct research in the area of organization at the highest educational level possible. Given your program's unsurpassed access to the most relevant information, facilities, and extra-university connections, I will have extensive opportunities for applying research to contemporary issues, including those faced by Liberia. I bring with me to the study of organizational behavior rich and diverse professional experiences from working in law firms, a city government, private consultancy firms, leading information technology initiatives, as well as having written on health care policy analysis for my Master's Thesis.

There is a firm connection between my own future and that of Liberia. Africa has been called the next global economic frontier. In order to be successful on that frontier, I will need to educate myself to the highest-level possible, conducting intensive research into the topics that will have the greatest relevance for my career plans and directions. In time, I hope to develop an institute with the aim of generating global business strategies in connection with Africa. I envision this organization as headquartered in South Africa or Nigeria. I hope to flesh out the structure of this institute by developing ongoing alliances with Africa. I hope to embark on doctoral research that will help me to chart a course that is successful at obtaining creative sources of funding, as well as strategies for dealing with the political challenges.

In the last eighteen months, I have completed a great deal of work that has built a foundation of experience from which to proceed with my long term plans. While my consulting firm is now entering into its fourth year of operation, business only remains successful as long as I secure projects from NGOs, USAID, EU and UNDP. Without working within the security of these relationships, I fear the firm would face difficulties getting projects from the Liberian government, especially given that I refuse to participate in corrupt practices. My firm now operates in Liberia, as well, after I secured a 20-year lease from the Catholic Diocese of a two-acre beachfront Vatican Embassy property for the purposes of building a 30-50 room boutique and hotel for domestic and international accommodation. Most importantly, the project will create much-needed jobs for the local Liberian people.

While my hotel project faces ongoing challenges in finding sufficient financial backing, ironically, a community development project I began in Liberia with my own money has flourished. I am truly proud of my efforts and feel that I have made important contributions to the revitalization of my community.

Liberians need to be led out of poverty to viable, sustainable futures and instilled with the spirit of entrepreneurship, thus creating the conditions for genuine economic independence, as well as becoming a model for other African countries. I want to be a credible leader for Liberia with a proven record. In this way I hope to help to lead Liberia away from its corrupt past, working to create a more compassionate, law-abiding, transparent nation.

I plan to work very hard to ensure the continuation of creative thought, and action. I hope to have a distinguished career in the classroom as a lecturer, or professor, staying abreast of the most exciting, real-world experiences. I look forward to publishing my research on the future of creative curriculum development and guiding research projects that will bring the greatest benefit to progressive causes. I am attracted to the diversity of your program, seeing it as a reflection of the same spirit of diversity Gregory of Nyssa spoke of centuries before, united in its mission for the progress of individuals who will go on to be agents for change. I look forward to the opportunity to develop myself as a creative leader for Africa's future.  Your time and consideration is greatly appreciated and I eagerly await a personal interview.

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