Mendoza School of Business

Brogan Awards given to top five women MBA students

Published: May 3, 2019 / Author: Carol Elliott

It was a different era when John Brogan started his MBA at Notre Dame.

This was in 1968. The MBA program had launched just the year before, partly in response to a burgeoning trend of increasing the professionalism of business through graduate education. Mostly, however, the program launched due to the vision of business school dean Tom Murphy and John Malone, the first director of the MBA program, to provide a place where Catholic businessmen could be guided by ethical and value-oriented philosophy in keeping with the College’s founding dean, John Cardinal O’Hara.

Brogan had graduated from Holy Cross College in 1966 and went on to work for Ford. A few months after he and his wife Meg married in June 1968, they happen to visit Brogan’s sister and brother-in-law, who was enrolled in the Notre Dame MBA program.

“He told me that the draft had just ended deferments for business school students, and the new MBA program in Notre Dame had lost five or six students and they have some openings,” said Brogan. “He said, ‘Why don’t we talk to the dean?’ So, Saturday afternoon, we went over to Dean John Malone’s house.”

After chatting a while, the dean told Brogan, “Well, you went to a good school, and you’re welcome to come if you’d like to. The problem is, school starts a week from Monday.” The Brogans drove back to Detroit, packed up their household, moved to South Bend the following Sunday and John started school on Monday. He received his formal acceptance letter in mid-November.

That was 50 years ago and of course, much has happened to the Brogans and the Notre Dame MBA program since. John, a member of Mendoza’s Business Advisory Council from 1985-2008, went on to PwC in Boston, eventually entering private equity. Meg, who worked as the South Bend Public Library “bookmobile lady” for two years while John was in school, has devoted herself to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Council. They’ve had a continuing relationship with the University that includes sponsoring numerous events through the Meg and John P. Brogan Endowment for Classic Cinema.

But perhaps one of their enduring legacies will be the role they’ve played in assisting young women find toeholds in successful business careers through the Brogan Award Program.

John Brogan said the idea for the awards took shape after a discussion with then Mendoza dean Carolyn Woo, who challenged the members of the Business Advisory Council to think of ways to help the University. He thought about something he had observed, not just in the workplace in general, but in his family.

With his daughters Meg and Christine, and son Patrick, Brogan noticed that it was harder for women to get in the door of a company right out of school. What they needed was a signifier of the excellence they brought to the table.

the brogans sit together on a couch

John and Meg Brogan

John and Meg established the Brogan Family Awards to provide the female candidates with the top GPA scores with a stipend over and above any other educational assistance received. “What we were trying to do is to make the award something that they could put on their resumes that would differentiate themselves from other students,” said Brogan. “So recruiters would say, Oh, you’re a Brogan recipient,’ which would automatically tell them that the students were tops in their class.”
The first awards were given to two students in 2000; the number subsequently expanded to four per year. (This year, there were five due to a tie.) The awards are given to two-year MBA students at the conclusion of their first year.

The Brogans make a point out of meeting the recipients each year. They like to get to know their stories, shake their hands, listen to their aspirations.

“One year, as we were leaving, one of the recipients who was a young woman from China grabbed us and said, ‘I really want to talk to you,’ said Meg. “She had a 2-year-old son who had been raised by her in-laws in China. Her husband was getting his Ph.D. in California, and she had come to Notre Dame to get her MBA. She hadn’t seen her baby in nearly two years. That stipend had allowed her to bring her child and her mother-in-law to the United States. There were tears in her eyes, and there certainly were tears in mine when she finished.”

Other recipients have included a young woman from Tibet. (John asked her how she got from a tiny town in Tibet all the way to Notre Dame. Her answer: hard work.) Another student was tackling the program while raising three children under age 10.

The women’s stories aren’t all as dramatic, but there’s a core of determination, perseverance and achievement that runs through them.

“When you begin to understand the sacrifices that some of these young women make, it really humbles you,” said Meg.

The 2018 recipients include Xian Wang, a former journalist with CNN and the Alibaba Group who produced multimedia content for its English news website before deciding to pursue the Notre Dame MBA/Master of Science in Business Analytics dual degree.

“Beyond the academic and professional achievement, one thing I learned at Mendoza is to be a servant leader,” said Wang. “I am filled with gratitude for the recognition and greatly appreciate the Brogan family’s support for the Notre Dame MBA program and women in business. As part of my mission, I am dedicated to carrying on the tradition and helping more students, especially girls, to unlock their potential and fulfill their dreams.”

Kayla Truckey, another 2018 Brogan Fellow, studied global management and geography at Bucknell University and worked in the retail industry prior to joining Notre Dame. Once here, she threw herself into diverse opportunities from serving as a teaching assistant for the MBA course Business on the Frontlines to teaming up with the local animal shelter. She plans to pursue a career in nonprofit management or higher education in New York after graduation.

“Really, my main goal is to take a position that allows me to carry on Notre Dame’s mission of Asking More of Business—the reason I came to this school and looked nowhere else,” said Truckey. “Regardless of what I end up doing after graduation, I know that my Notre Dame education has prepared me for success and I can’t thank the Brogan family enough for helping me achieve my goals.”

The Brogans, for as much as they enjoy coming to know the stories of the young award recipients, don’t voice specific hope and dreams in terms of career achievements for each one. They just want to give them a start.

“We’re just trying to make sure that the women get equal opportunity when they interview so they can get the jobs they want,” said John. “What they decide to do later is up to them.”


Natalie (Birzer) Chisam

headshotI am a 2019 University of Notre Dame MBA candidate. I received my B.S. in Marketing from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. Before pursuing my MBA, I worked in advertising and marketing. I am concentrating in Marketing and Business Analytics.

I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Marketing after graduating from the MBA program. I want to teach marketing at the collegiate level and conduct academic marketing research. This dream would not be possible without the support of incredible Notre Dame professors and mentors. I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant over the summer for three Notre Dame marketing professors.

I am originally from the Kansas City area and come from a family of Notre Dame fans. My dad graduated from Notre Dame in 1981, and two of my brothers are current Notre Dame undergraduate students. Notre Dame is truly a special place for my family.

In my spare time, I enjoy creative writing (I wrote the young adult fiction book, Mission Hills), reading (I am currently reading Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), and watching to Broadway musicals (my favorite musicals are Hamilton and Rent!).

I cannot thank you enough for your support. It is such an honor to receive this fellowship, and I am so incredibly grateful.

Helen (Hang) Ji

headshotI am currently a 2nd year MBA/MSBA dual degree candidate at the Mendoza College of Business. As a way of my background, I was born in Dalian, China and came to the United States by myself when I was 16. I went to a high school in New York for two years. Later on, I graduated from University of California – Berkeley in 2012 with an economics degree, and also completed summer internships in private equity and investment banking. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I had close to four years’ full-time work experience in investment advisory with Camelotta Advisors. In my role as a financial analyst, I managed assets on behalf of 62 high net worth individuals and families by providing end-to-end solutions across wealth management and financial planning based on modeling and scenario analyses. In the past summer, I did an internship with Bank of America in their product and strategy team and had a great experience there.

As I always told other people, coming to Notre Dame for my MBA was the single best decision that I made. I learned so much from my professors and peers every day. Its strong academic reputation, incredible alumni network and focus on leadership and ethics deeply attract me. Being here, I feel every day counts for me to improve myself and become a better leader. As an MBA/MSBA dual degree candidate, I am looking forward to leveraging my knowledge gained in Notre Dame to solve real world problems.

I want to express my great appreciation for your generosity and support. I am very thankful for your kindness and recognition. Brogan family is a role model for me to always remind me to give back and help other people. I want to thank Brogan family again for making such a great impact on my Notre Dame MBA

Katie McCullough

I am a second-year student and will be graduating in the inaugural year of the MBA/MSBA (Masters of Science in Business Analytics) dual-degree program. It has been a great experience thus far, and such an honor to pave the way for future dual-degree students. I am originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and did my undergraduate studies at Northwestern University, where I was an NCAA Division 1 swimmer. The 12 years I spent as a competitive swimmer taught me to accept nothing less than excellence. I maintained this principle during my 4 years working for Fiat Chrysler in Detroit, and now, as I continue my journey in the MBA program here at Notre Dame.

headshotMy time at Notre Dame has been nothing short of incredible. I am surrounded by a group of men and women who come from very different backgrounds, yet we all have one thing in common: we want to use business as a force for good. Notre Dame has opened my eyes to so many opportunities and allowed me to make an
impact in a very short time. I am on the executive board of the Management Club and am an active member of the Women in Business and Finance and Investments club.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with JP Morgan Chase, as an associate in their Private Bank, and I will be returning after I graduate in May. I am excited to make an impact by helping individuals and families preserve and grow their wealth. The lessons that I learned in the classroom and the people that I have met during my time at Notre Dame will continue to guide my career for the rest of my life.

Thank you so much for supporting the women of the Notre Dame MBA program. Last year, I met a group of motivated women who challenge me every day to push limits and advocate for other women who want to make an impact in the business world. It is such an honor to receive this fellowship, and I am eternally grateful for families like yours. Thank you for making a difference!

Kayla Truckey

As a second year MBA candidate at the University of Notre Dame, I was delightfully surprised to learn that I had been granted the Brogan Award. I was not even aware that as a student here I was eligible to receive any kind of assistance after my initial offer – so you can only imagine my shock after receiving Kristin McAndrew’s notification phone call. This award really does make a huge difference in my ability to hit the ground running after graduation, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

headshotTo give you a little background about myself, I am originally from Racine, Wisconsin, and studied Global Management and Geography at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, I worked for the Bon-Ton Stores as an Assistant Merchant and Inventory Management Analyst. Although I am one of the younger MBA students, I believe my experience in retail prepared me well for the program and has allowed me to be successful here.

In addition to expanding my academic knowledge, the MBA program has afforded me incredible opportunities to grow as a person. I have had the privilege of serving as a teaching assistant for Professor Viva Bartkus for her groundbreaking class Business on the Frontlines (BOTFL), work as a graduate student assistant in the Office of Nonprofit Professional Development, act as VP of Volunteering for Net Impact Club, and pursue my passion of animal rescue by teaming up with the local animal shelter, South Bend Animal Care and Control (SBACC).

In addition to all of the activities I’ve been involved in on campus and in the South Bend community, I was able to take an incredible summer internship, organized and funded by Notre Dame career services and alumni. I spent the summer working for the Bermuda Business Development agency serving as a FinTech consulting intern, trying to develop FinTech as a new economic pillar of the island.

Without the support of the Notre Dame community, I would have never been able to participate in all of these incredible opportunities. It has made my time here impactful, to say the least. Going forward, I know that all of these experiences will help me not only in my career but in my life. Post-graduation I hope to take a full-time position in New York, possibly in the fields of non-profit management, retail, or higher education administration. Really, my main goal is to take a position that allows me to carry on Notre Dame’s mission of Asking More of Business – the reason I came to this school and looked nowhere else.

Regardless of what I end up doing after graduation, I know that my Notre Dame education has prepared me for success and I can’t thank the Brogan family enough for helping me achieve my goals. Being granted the Brogan Award really does make a huge difference for me financially, and I can only hope to be as generous to future Notre Dame students.

Xian (Susan) Wang

I was born and raised in Hangzhou, a city in East China known for its beautiful landscape and robust technology sector. I spent my early years in China and had the opportunity to study at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas during college as an exchange student. At that time, I established solid friendship with my host family, who treated me as a family member. Since then, I had always thought about coming back to the States for study.

headshot with the golden dome blurry in the backgroundAfter receiving my master’s degree from China’s top journalism school, I worked at CNN and then joined Alibaba Group, where I produced multimedia content for its English news website. While I enjoyed my time at one of China’s fastest-growing companies, I realized that I wanted to be more involved in the business decision-making process, and thus needed to sharpen my business acumen. I encountered Notre Dame through an online post shared by another applicant, who is now my classmate.

My first year in Notre Dame was fantastic. Pursuing an MBA/MSBA joint degree allows me to pick up both business knowledge and quantitative skill set. I am also the only female in the MBA Business Analytics Club leadership team, where I work with my male classmates to improve Mendoza’s reputation as a premier destination for analytics talents. My post-MBA career goal is to leverage my creative and analytical skills to drive product & customer-experience innovation, development and implementation in technology companies. This summer, I interned with Dell Technologies, where I applied in-class learning to tackle real-world business challenges. As a sports fan, I enjoy attending Notre Dame football games and following Irish scoreboard.

Beyond the academic and professional achievement, one thing I learned at Mendoza is to be a servant leader. I have always reminded myself to stay humble and grateful. I am filled with gratitude for the recognition and greatly appreciate Brogan family’s tremendous support for Notre Dame’s MBA program and women in business. As part of my mission, I am dedicated to carrying on the tradition and helping more students, especially girls, to unlock their potential and fulfill their dreams.