Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Raisha T. Smith, Rice University (Jones)

“A multifaceted woman of color, who uplifts, inspires and bridges gaps within her community.”

Hometown: Houston, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a foreign exchange student in Tokyo /Chiba City at the age of 14. This experience at a young age helped me to understand the importance of building multicultural relationships and I gained my passion for travel!

Undergraduate School and Major: Texas A&M University, B.B.A Marketing

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Colonial Pipeline; Manager, Customer Relations

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Rice truly showed me the power of community. As a prospective student, I felt embraced by existing students and administration—Rice wanted me to win and I had not received an acceptance letter yet! After receiving my acceptance letter, the story never changed; the second-year students and faculty have done everything to prepare my classmates and me for success within the program. The Rice Business community truly feels like a family that I’ve known my entire life!

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I look forward to joining BBSA (Black Business Student Association); Women at Rice; Rice Marketing Association; and Wine Club. I feel that each club aligns with my current experiences as a woman of color in business that truly embraces the power of community.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Rice? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? What excites me most about getting my MBA at Rice is knowing that it is acceptable to challenge the status quo. I look forward to connecting with peers who may have varying experiences and perspectives which will allow me to challenge the norm while also learning from my peers. I am very nervous about the transition from corporate “career woman” to student. I’ve always had an opportunity to make myself available to friends, family and colleagues – but the art of balance and maintaining existing relationships outside of school is what truly makes me nervous!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment within my career was developing the first ever hybrid internship program at my former company. Although recruiting was not my full-time job, I had the opportunity to develop an internship program, seek buy-in from the executive team, interview and onboard a candidate, and mentor this candidate throughout her internship journey. To truly witness a program that I took initiative on with my former Chief HR Officer and to watch my intern deliver a finished product that added value to a multi-billion dollar corporation was pivotal.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I thrive from the energy of bringing people together with intention while watching their visions manifest from the sideline. I encourage, I support, and I affirm women across the globe; what started as a small passion project in 2018 has drastically changed my life and more than 20,000 women internationally.  EveryDopeGirl (EDG) makes me feel — alive. EDG is a community that creates a culture of intentional support among female entrepreneurs globally. We showcase amazing women who are making efforts outside of their 9-5 and globally through social impact and entrepreneurship. EDG represents diversity and inclusion within the entrepreneurial space and gives women access to the tools to be successful business owners. The idea of women that balance careers and “side hustles” should be normalized. I wanted to pursue an MBA to further tap into hard skills to further grow EDG, while still adding value to my full-time career!

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  UC Berkley – Haas and UCLA – Anderson

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question that I was asked during the admissions process was “How have you created a positive impact within your community and how will you integrate your community into Rice Business?”

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I’ve spent a lot of time truly reflecting on my “Why.” We are in the midst of chaos – pandemic- and a humanity revolution. I want to ensure prior to me joining Rice that I can truly understand the role that I will play in a classroom setting and the value that I can add into a corporation. Self-reflection has truly been my preparation.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment occurred in 2017 when I received my first B-School rejection, truly a tough pill to swallow. I spent most of my time excelling within my career and in various aspects of my life. To my surprise, the business school journey was eye-opening. When I look back on the defining moment of my business school journey, although I was prepared from a career perspective, my story was not yet complete. I spent the next few years truly understanding my passion and drive, thus the birth of EveryDopeGirl. After launching a passion project that truly served the needs of my community and further developing my skills within the business world, it reignited my business school journey in 2019. My story was organic, unfiltered, and my “Why for business school” felt more aligned than ever. It was a pivotal moment and crafting my story became effortless.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? Why? DI&E is extremely important to me and should be of high importance to my employer. My commitment to D&I stems back to high school. As a Girl Scout Gold Award Recipient, I hosted a free volleyball camp for underprivileged girls within the Houston community. I exposed 64 girls ages 8-16 to the sport that shaped me into the leader that I am today.  Now 10 years later, these young black and brown women are college graduates, former student athletes, and pouring into their respective communities.

My commitment to D&I did not end in high school, it became a common theme for my life. As a student leader at Texas A&M University, I sat on the board for climate and diversity working alongside the President and VP of Student Affairs. As a climate and diversity ambassador at Texas A&M, I developed projects and initiatives focused on increasing diversity efforts for minorities at A&M. I want to ensure that companies I seek employment from value the importance of D&I through supplier representation and at the Management/Executive level.

Pretend you have just graduated from business school. What will you need to have done to make your experience successful? Succeeding in the classroom is always a huge win, but cultivating relationships on campus with peers, faculty, alumni and corporations is a necessity before graduating. I want to ensure that I can be a resource between my existing non-MBA community and MBA community.

DON’T MISS: MEET THE RICE JONES MBA CLASS OF 2022