CGU student wins prestigious scholarship

by Melina Tisopulos

After a sleepless night of tossing and constantly refreshing her inbox, the email Claremont University student Deja Darrington has been waiting for has finally arrived.

Opening it, she was immediately greeted with a celebratory message: the American Association of University Women had awarded her an $18,000 scholarship.

“I really couldn’t believe it and had to keep checking email,” Darrington said. “All that work and stress was worth it.”

Darrington began her AAUW scholarship application process last August, setting weekly goals to diligently tackle her many writing prompts while simultaneously balancing school and work. At the beginning of April, she finally received the good news.

Already Darrington. Photo courtesy of Claremont Graduate University.

AAUW’s mission is to support female scholars pursuing higher education. Darrington received her Selected Professions Fellowship, for those studying a field in which women are underrepresented. For Darrington, that realm is business.

The AAUW will begin accepting applications for its next round of scholarships and grants on August 1. More information at aauw.org.

Darrington first began studying business at UC Riverside and became passionate about marketing, especially working in tandem with customers.

“I really enjoy engaging with current customers and listening to what they value and the feedback and insights they offer,” she said. “Also, learning to use data to make decisions that impact them.”

Shortly after graduating in 2016, she began working as an alumni programs coordinator for UC Riverside. Wanting to develop a deeper understanding of marketing, she eventually planned to go back to school to earn a master’s degree. When a position as a communications and events specialist opened up at CGU, it was the perfect opportunity for her to take on a marketing-oriented role and further her education.

Beyond the enticing work experience, she felt drawn to CGU because of the ethos of its Drucker School of Management.

“Usually when people hear about management, it’s very narrow-minded and black-and-white,” Darrington said. “But with Peter F. Drucker, he’s very socially focused on the person and the fact that organizations can’t exist without the human.

“I like that it focuses on how organizations have a responsibility to the communities they are part of. Taking the classes on his philosophies is definitely a challenge for me, but it made me think differently and think outside the box. I make sure to look at the big picture when making a decision that affects others. It’s been great so far.

Darrington had intended to complete her MBA in 2024. However, with the help of the scholarship, she can take on a heavier course load and will instead graduate in early spring 2023. With so few scholarship opportunities available to graduate students, especially those in MBA programs, she is extremely grateful to receive this support.

“I know people always say something is a dream come true, but honestly it was. School isn’t cheap, and with everything going on with the pandemic and the rise in costs, it’s a dream come true,” she said.

While the scholarship is certainly noteworthy in its own right, it represents only one of Darrington’s many notable academic accomplishments; last fall, she received scholarships from the National Black MBA Los Angeles Chapter and AfroTech World. She also placed third in the Small Business Challenge, a 48-hour regional hackathon-style competition. For the competition, Business MBA students are divided into small groups and tasked with strategically approaching an issue impacting a real small business. Their solution is then presented in a brief pitch to the judges and the business owner.

“I really enjoyed this competition,” Darrington said. “It really challenged me, and you’re helping small businesses. It’s a win-win. I hope to compete again this year.

She started at CGU in the spring of 2020, but her time on campus was quickly cut short by pandemic stay-at-home orders. Upon her return to in-person teaching last fall, she decided to get involved on campus to connect with her peers. One group she belongs to is the Drucker Net Impact, which aims to instill the philosophy of Peter F. Drucker by serving the local community. She also volunteers with the National Black MBA Association, an organization that provides support and career and educational opportunities for young black people.

When free time arises in his busy schedule, Darrington likes to visit San Diego and Coronado or spend the day at Disneyland.

Recently, she became a customer marketing manager for a small technology company in San Francisco. After obtaining her MBA, she will pursue this position full-time.

As she enters her fellowship year, she looks forward to meeting and connecting with other AAUW Fellows. The community of fellow scholars is one of the many aspects of AAUW Darrington’s values, and she hopes more women can benefit from its support in the future.

“The fact that AAUW is providing funding to women, especially women of color, who are in these underrepresented fields, has such a huge impact,” she said. “I hope more students can find it. It’s really about increasing aid and helping women, which is just amazing.

Interested students can begin applying for the next round of AAUW scholarships and grants on August 1. career advancement. Visit aauw.org for more information.

Melina Tisopulos is a rising senior at Claremont High School and is the COURIER’s summer intern.

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