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1-MBA Scholarship Recipient to Tackle Social Inequities

Katherine Tarazona seated at a table in a library in front of a bookshelf working on her laptop

With the skills that Katherine R. Vásquez Tarazona ’19G is learning as a student in Lehigh’s one-year Master of Business Administration program, she plans to seek a career in international work that will benefit societal injustice and corporate social responsibility. A lawyer, Vásquez Tarazona would not have been able to pursue her dream without receiving the Asa Packer Social Entrepreneurship Award that provided her with a full scholarship.

As a lawyer and international affairs analyst for small companies and start-up businesses, Katherine R. Vásquez Tarazona ’19G was becoming more aware of political and economic situations and social injustices, which has been an interest of hers since high school. Positions at the Spanish Consulate in her hometown of Lima, Peru, and as a United Nations On-line Volunteer deepened her passion for international relations and her desire to make a difference in the global community. Wanting to expand her role with non-traditional organizations outside of the legal realm to include project management, she knew she needed more education to learn business fundamentals.

Lehigh’s 1-MBA program was the right choice for Vásquez Tarazona who plans to fully support companies that are making a public impact after she earns her degree. Because of her career intentions, she applied for and was awarded a full scholarship to help make her dream come true.

“I am passionate about many causes. It is difficult to choose one — equality is a big one,” said Vásquez Tarazona, who earned her law degree in Peru in 2005 and a master’s degree in international relations in Spain in 2011. “Everyone is equal before the law. I believe in that. It crushes me to see the world is not like that. Anything that makes the world better makes me happy.”

Because of her commitment to improving social issues, especially women empowerment, Vásquez Tarazona received the Asa Packer Social Entrepreneurship Award, named after the founder of Lehigh University. The competitive award provides a full tuition scholarship plus a stipend of $18,000 to aid with expenses during the year-long program. Any social entrepreneur, aspiring social entrepreneur, or leader of a social enterprise from anywhere in the world is eligible to apply.

“When reviewing applicants to the Asa Packer Social Entrepreneurship Award, we look for creative solutions at the intersection of business and society that have the potential to make an impact and are ultimately scalable,” said Mary Theresa Taglang, director, recruitment and admissions. “Given Katherine’s impressive background, her verifiable accomplishments, and her commitment to her causes, we knew she was the perfect candidate.”

Vásquez Tarazona said that without the scholarship, she would not be able to have this great opportunity that will help change her career trajectory and, hopefully, the lives of others. With her MBA degree, she plans to join a social consulting group either in the U.S. or internationally to help clients meet society’s greatest challenges.

“My goal is to help people manage their projects who have interests in sustainable development goals, whether they are in the traditional system or in non-traditional organizations,” she said. “I want to work in a dynamic environment where my set of skills will be of service to projects social-focused in different parts of the world.”

Vásquez Tarazona first learned about the 1-MBA scholarship program as a member of the Lehigh Global Village network. A 2007 alumna of the five-week Iacocca Global Village for Future Leaders program, she said that being a “Global Villager” was a turning point in how she saw the world. The experience of being in a leadership program with 90 peers from 35 other countries broadened her perspective on international relations and her empathy of others.

Returning to Lehigh for the 1-MBA degree program was like coming home.

“Everyone is working for your best interest and best outcome,” she said of the faculty, staff, and the cohort of 15 students in the 1-MBA program.

“We have a very diverse group of students with different backgrounds. That enriches the discussion in class,” she said. “I have to congratulate the faculty. They take the best out of us in class. Everyone profits from the mutual interaction.”

Each 1-MBA student is assigned three resource coaches throughout the program — a faculty advisor who helps with academic and program success, a career coach who helps define the student’s best skills for career development and helps establish professional goals, and an industry executive advisor who helps build access to new networks.

“As a student, it’s a huge advantage to get connected to a professional out in the real world who has already used their MBA to change directions or accelerate their career growth in a similar way that you hope to do,” said Jake Huber ’09 ’15G, director of program management, Coplex , who is Vásquez Tarazona’s industry executive advisor. “It’s been very rewarding being able to give back and help guide someone that is in the same position I was when I was first going through the program.”

Having earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting and a Master of Business Administration in corporate entrepreneurship from Lehigh, Huber is well-acquainted with how a Lehigh education can prepare you for the career world.

“I leveraged the Lehigh MBA program to pivot in my own career, and it has set me down an exciting path that I would not have had access to without my experiences at Lehigh. It’s fun and inspiring to see Katherine forge her own new path by taking advantage of all of the resources this MBA program has to offer,” he said. “I have no doubt she will go on to do great things and will represent Lehigh very well in the future.”

Vásquez Tarazona is confident that her 1-MBA experiences and education will prepare her for international work to benefit societal injustice and corporate social responsibility. With her educational background in the humanities, she admitted to having a bit of a learning curve when it came to some of the business classes, but would recommend the program to anyone.

“It is not about the academics, because we can handle that anywhere,” she said about herself and her fellow classmates. “It is about the experience.”  

Dawn Thren ’21P

Photo by Christa Neu