How a Second Chance at Life Brought Annie Wright to an MBA

Posted by Albers Schools of Business and Economics on Monday, January 30, 2023 at 10:00 AM PST

Annie WrightSometimes, it takes a big moment to change your life. For Annie Wright, a first-year MBA student in the Albers School of Business Early Career MBA program, that moment was almost her last.

In March 2021, Annie experienced a near-fatal car accident. “My world was quite literally flipped upside down,” she says.

At the time, she was working for Teach for America, serving in an underprivileged high school in Georgia. Annie had recently graduated with her degree in political science and was planning to apply to Columbia Law School. Coming from a family of lawyers, law school was something she just assumed she should do. But that was before her injuries left her with a fractured spine.

Annie was forced to stop working. She left Georgia to return home to Seattle and recover from her injuries—and she started questioning all the “I shoulds." “All I knew was that I wanted to be creative, to collaborate, and to make a difference,” says Annie. “When you almost lose your life, you think: Why am I doing what I’m doing? And who do I want to be? The accident made me reflect inward. I had a second chance, a fresh start. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.”

Annie’s fresh start led her to realize her passion for business. She saw leadership as a vital way to make a difference, whether it’s working at a nonprofit, holding a position at a larger corporation, or running your own business. An MBA would enable her to build a foundational understanding of business practices and grow her professional network.

Annie compared programs in the Seattle area before deciding on the Albers School of Business at Seattle University. For her, it was an obvious choice: it came down to the culture, the education model, and the people.

Why Albers? Collaboration, not competition

While Annie knew she wanted to pursue an MBA, she wasn’t interested in a culture of cutthroat competition. “I wanted to collaborate, not compete,” she says. “I wanted an education focused on making the individual a better person, an effective leader, and a valuable contributor to our society. I found all of that at Seattle University.” The one-year Early Career MBA program was the best fit for her financially and professionally. She could have an MBA in 12 months for less than the cost of a comparable two-year program.

Annie was eager to begin her MBA, but her journey would involve more than just coursework. Still healing physically and emotionally, she also needed to rebuild her confidence: her confidence in herself, in her voice, and in her leadership. “I didn’t expect the program to be the thing that helped me rebuild my confidence,” she says. “I was nervous and apprehensive going in. But then, I saw the way my classmates and my professors believed in me.”

The community within the Early Career MBA program helped her to start believing in herself again, too. “I became more confident in my writing, my interactions with others, and my values. I’m ready to keep going and keep learning.”

Albers MBA students learn from instructors, professional mentors, and each other

Annie’s MBA experience has brought her many unexpected learning opportunities. One of the most surprising was her successful economics class. During her undergraduate studies, Annie hated the subject. “It made me feel like I wasn’t smart enough,” she says. But that all changed when she came to Seattle University.

“Professor Erin Vernon is one of the best instructors I’ve ever had. She presents the information in a way you can digest, helps you understand the value of it, and checks for understanding throughout the process.”

That experience has extended across her studies in the program. “Our instructors want us to succeed,” she insists. “They care about us, not just our academics. They’re educating the entire student, making us feel valued and seen in the process.”

For Annie, the relationships she has with faculty and staff at Albers are rare. “You just don’t find that in other programs,” she says. “You’re not lost in a large class, and you don’t just find one or two faculty who know your name. At Albers, every single instructor and staff member cares about your success.” 

At Albers, students learn from professors and networking opportunities—but also from each other. Annie was looking for a program that would give her a strong community and help her grow as a teammate.

In the Early Career MBA program, she works with a diverse cohort of 18 other students. Some were from India, Taiwan, and Guatemala. Some had backgrounds in nursing, microbiology, political science, film studies, and athletics. “It made us a very cool group,” laughs Annie. “And having classmates with such a range of experiences meant we all looked at situations differently and brought something new to the table. I learn so much from these opportunities.”

Because they follow the same course trajectory, Albers cohorts become close: team projects, study groups, and social outings. “We respect each other. Heck, we look up to each other,” says Annie. “There are characteristics of each classmate that I want to learn from—that I hope to one day have myself.”

Outside the classroom, Albers MBA students have an opportunity to be mentored by an established professional in the field. Annie’s mentor is Amanda Sacknitz, an Albers School of Business alum who now works as a senior product manager for Amazon. “She has been a wonderful role model and valuable resource,” says Annie. “She gave us a tour of the Amazon building, helped me with my resume, and supported me in growing my professional network.”

During her mentorship, Annie will be able to conduct informational interviews with professionals in a wide variety of roles, helping Annie grow her network while gaining insight into what path she wants to pursue in business.

Annie has taken advantage of some of the many other opportunities afforded by Albers, too, such as attending the Albers Executive Speaker series. The live panels bring top executives in the Puget Sound area to Albers to talk about their leadership philosophies, challenges, and other topics of their choice.

Annie’s takeaways: The MBA sparks a flame

Throughout the MBA program so far, Annie has come to realize how important it is for her to work for a company that matches her values. She also emphasizes the importance of being able to help shape the culture of your workplace.

She also credits the Early Career MBA with strengthening her networking skills. “Before Seattle University, I had hundreds of attorney connections, but I didn’t know anyone in business,” says Annie. “Now, I’m building relationships with professionals across multiple industries. And I’m learning what it takes to continue cultivating my network after I graduate.”

Another big takeaway? That there is no one schedule for building a career.

During her recovery, Annie says, “I felt like I was standing still, and everyone else was still moving forward. It made me feel incredibly insecure.” As she strengthened her self-confidence at Albers, she came to see that there’s no such thing as being behind. “I’m right where I’m supposed to be. And I won’t get to where I want to go by comparing myself to others,” she says. “I had to learn that here.”

New to a career in business, Annie is still exploring which career path is right for her. “I saw the Early Career MBA program as an opportunity to figure this out,” she says.

“The MBA program lit an entrepreneur flame in me. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Considering an MBA? Take the leap

For others considering an Early Career MBA at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics, Annie says: Take the leap.

“It’s an investment in school, but also in yourself,” says Annie. “You’re investing in your network. In your relationships with your professors. In that teamwork experience. You can’t get that anywhere else.”

She also encourages prospective students to consider their personal values when making a decision about applying for an MBA. “Who do you want to be? What do you need to do to get there?” she asks. “If you’re considering applying and find yourself thinking, How can I be a better version of myself? How can I gain a deeper understanding of what my purpose is?—take the leap.”

Annie is willing to connect with anyone considering the Early Career MBA program at Albers. You can find her on LinkedIn