Melissa Jimenez is an international graduate student from Trinidad and Tobago studying in the Master of Arts Management (MAM) program. Although she has the education, experience, and entrepreneurial spirit, she came to Columbia to strengthen her skills in the arts and entertainment industry.
What is your major? When is your expected graduation date?
I attended The University of the West Indies – St. Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago where I completed a BA in Musical Arts with a concentration in Steelpan performance and Voice (singing) in 2012. I went on to complete a certificate in Event Management at the same institution, and a LCCI Diploma in Marketing. I am now pursuing a Master of Arts Management at Columbia College Chicago where I am expected to graduate in May 2017.
Why did you choose Columbia’s Business & Entrepreneurship program?
I have many entrepreneurial ideas floating around in my head and on paper of things and some I have already tried my hand at. All my ideas are geared towards advancing the arts and entertainment industry in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. Having said that, I have a lot of practical experience dabbling in things here and there so I felt as though I needed some more direction to help me refine those ideas and thus began the search for universities where I stumbled upon Columbia. The curriculum immediately caught my attention with its diverse offerings both theoretical and practical and the many lecturers who are not only teaching at the institution but living what they teach as successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Thankfully, the U.S. Fulbright program made that wish of attending Columbia come true, for which I am eternally grateful.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping others. I want to see people strive and to see the Caribbean’s arts industry grow and become a force to be reckoned with. I want the world to see the Caribbean as not only an ideal vacation destination but know us for our explosive talent and admirable cultural diversity.
What projects are you currently working on outside of classes?
My most recent project includes setting up and moving towards formally launching my company Artzy Bitz. Artzy Bitz is set up to be an all encompassing arts management hub of professionals providing related services. Another project, Artzy Travel is setup to be a stand alone subsidiary under the Artzy Bitz company promoting the Caribbean’s artistic festivals and cultural heritage by facilitating group vacation tours. About a year prior to moving to Chicago I also founded a fundraising event titled, “The Masters Series,” along with a few of my colleagues. This event allowed us to create a fund geared towards helping students who wish to pursue postgraduate education in the arts and entertainment field by providing bursaries. Thus far, we have been able to award two recipients. Our hope for this event is that it will continue to be an annual one where we will eventually be able to offer partial and full scholarships to those in need.
Which classes have helped you the most with your career goals?
Thus far, the Event Management, Talent Management, Leadership, and Marketing courses have helped me the most with my career goals. I’m looking forward to Sponsorship, Fundraising, and Digital Business Development for the next academic year.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself traveling around the world embarking on different projects of interest, owning a few businesses, and would have sold a few business ideas for others to develop.
How has being a student at Columbia impacted your path to success for your career?
Through this program I have been able to expand my professional network, and be exposed to a variety of tools, specialized industries, and opportunities not available in my home country. As a result, I have become a little more open minded and I am exploding with creativity. Suddenly, all the ideas I thought were crazy or unattainable seem possible.
What is your philosophy on life (personal motto) as it relates to your educational career?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
This is true for both my educational career and personal life.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Columbia is a triple threat College providing: theory, practical application, and field diversity. With great, highly supportive lecturers and faculty helping you develop your creative leaps and bounds at every turn, you’ll be glad you chose it.