Education: The Base of My Pyramid

Mironda Ross (’10 Houston) spent six years increasing productivity and decreasing costs as a business analyst for Protective Life Insurance Company and American Iron Pipe Company prior to entering business school. At first glance, she is not your typical candidate for a role in education.

But within a resume chock full of accomplishments and academic accolades, you see a committed volunteer and community change agent. Beyond her work in the classroom and office, Ross tutored 8th graders in math and increased partnerships by 300% as President of the National Council of Negro Women for the Birmingham Chapter. All told she has over 13 years of volunteer experience.

A desire to have meaningful impact was the catalyst for Ross to quit her job and move half way across the country to attend business school with the plan of transitioning into the education field. Education Pioneers had the opportunity to talk with her, a 2011 MBA candidate at the University of Michigan’s Steven M. Ross School of Business and pioneering Fellow in the inaugural 2010 Houston cohort.

EP: What is your vision of the ideal school system?

MR: I envision a school system that provides equal opportunity to all students; whether it’s public school, private school, or charter school, all children should have a phenomenal education. I come from football country so I want to see teachers held on the same platform that athletic coaches are held. I want the world to understand the value of teachers because I think they drive student achievement.

EP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

MR: My education; it’s the base of my pyramid. I finished my undergraduate degree while working full-time, which was a big challenge. I am also proud that I was able to get into business school. After completing my undergraduate degree, it took me 6 years to decide I would leave everything I know, quit my job, and move to someplace new to pursue my desired career in nonprofit management.

EP: What about Education Pioneers resonated with you?  Why did you choose to take part in the 2010 Fellowship?

MR: It’s what education needs. I was introduced to Education Pioneers through the Consortium [the country’s preeminent organization for promoting diversity and inclusion in American business] and informational interviews [with education organizations]. It seemed everyone I spoke to, from the Human Resources staff at KIPP [Knowledge is Power Program] to those from Chicago Public Schools asked, “have you thought about applying to the Education Pioneers Fellowship?” I look forward to sharing ideas with people across the sector. There are no other organizations that I know of that facilitate such a dynamic relationship between students and professionals from organizations across the country. Education Pioneers opens the eyes of organizations to the fact that people from different backgrounds want to be a part of education reform.

EP: You aren’t from Houston. Why are you interested in Houston and the Houston education reform landscape?

MR: I love the south and I thought that it would be a great opportunity to be a part of the first cohort. I also think it’s an interesting time for Houston education reform. There are some trail blazers: Houston Independent School District and KIPP are just a few examples of the dynamic array of organizations down there making a difference. There is a lot of opportunity for change, and I am excited to be a part of it.

EP: What do you think your set of skills and experience can bring to education reform?
I know how to manage people, project timelines and budgets. Although I am not always a content expert, I am humble, curious and open minded when I embark on new projects. I know how to honor people’s opinions and drive projects from concept to completion.

EP: How do you see Education Pioneers supporting you in your future?
The Alumni network and the support that Education Pioneers provides are so important. I envision reaching out to someone down the line and saying “you are an Alumna and you’re working in Chicago; I’d love to get your perspective on this.” The fact that [Education Pioneers] is so well respected is also beneficial. To have over 2400 people apply for 300 positions shows the power of what Education Pioneers can do. Education Pioneers on my resume will get people excited; it’s prestigious and it gives me credibility. People know the caliber of individuals coming through the program.

-Lauryn McCarthy
Manager, Communications & Development