Sofia Chen Ma (B’23) on Advancing Inclusion and Building Support Systems on Campus
During the month of May, Georgetown McDonough joins the nation in commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To celebrate, we are spotlighting several of our exceptional AAPI students and alumni in the McDonough community who are creating impact and exemplifying the Georgetown spirit through their academics, careers, and personal lives.
Sofia Chen Ma (B’23) is devoted to creating a community and space for first-generation and lower-income students at Georgetown McDonough. As the incoming president of the Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP) student board, she is working to increase the visibility of the program and help create an equitable and welcoming college experience for all students at Georgetown.
Chen shared her path to pursuing a career in finance, the mentors who influenced her academic journey, and how she plans to use her new leadership position in GSP to pay it forward by mentoring and supporting other young professionals in the Georgetown community.
Why did you choose to pursue your B.S. degree with an emphasis in finance at Georgetown McDonough?
I was not planning on leaving my hometown in New York – I was only sure of my desire to be in an immersive college experience. When I learned of the available resources offered by the Georgetown network and the McDonough School of Business, I knew I had found the right place to be.
Initially, I wanted to pursue a major in international business with the goal of leveraging my Asian-Mexican background. However, last summer I had the opportunity to intern with KPS Capital Partners through the Labor Capital Strategies Fellowship. Thanks to the advice and mentorship of several seasoned finance professionals, I decided to change gears and pursue a career in finance.
Are there any professors or mentors in the McDonough community that have made an impact on your experience at Georgetown?
Professor Dawn Carpenter has enriched my experience and served as a great mentor. I resonated with her experiences as a first-generation college student, as well as her professional background helping marginalized communities. Professor Carpenter taught me about responsible investing and corporate social responsibility. Outside of the classroom, she has advocated for my inclusion in a variety of spaces.
Missy Foy (C’03) and the GSP also have been a significant part of my support system. Through their commitment to enhancing my experience at Georgetown, I have grown as both an individual and as a leader.
What are your career goals? How has your experience at McDonough helped you achieve your professional goals?
I have many career aspirations for my future after Georgetown. While I am a finance major, I am currently exploring different paths in the industry outside of the typical investment banking route. I also am considering expanding my research background and pursuing a graduate degree. My plans have not been finalized, but my long-term goal is to eventually establish myself in the finance industry and open opportunities for underrepresented communities. I would like to pay it forward and mentor other young professionals.
Tell us more about your work with the Business Podcast Fellowship program at Georgetown McDonough.
This year, I joined the What Does It Profit? podcast to help with a special edition episode. The feature was an international research project funded by NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. Through my work with the podcast, I had the opportunity to conduct research and learn about the importance of whistleblowers in their efforts to counter disinformation. More specifically, I had the opportunity to discuss the story of Elisabeth Bik, a renowned microbiologist who came forward for truth in science during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the guidance of the show’s producer, Jordan Gass-Poore, and the host, Professor Carpenter, I was able to learn the important steps in being able to effectively craft a narrative for an audience.
Outside of your academics and career, are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
Outside of my academics and career, I have been involved in supporting the GSP student board. The program’s mission is to create an equitable college experience for first-generation and lower-income college students at Georgetown. The student board takes charge of creating programming support and fields student feedback.
In the next year, I will serve as the incoming president of the student board and continue our efforts to create space for ‘GSPers’ on campus. My goal is to expand the visibility of our program and ensure students feel supported. I also hope to mentor and empower other board members in their efforts to take leadership in our program. It is our responsibility to recognize the needs of our students and create a welcoming space in an institution like Georgetown.
What is one of the most important lessons you have learned while at Georgetown?
One of the most important lessons I have learned at Georgetown is to trust the process. When I faced uncertainty, being able to let go of control and reflect on the right course of action was key to easing my stress. By trusting the path and being open, I was able to learn from my experiences and become a more well-rounded professional.