Scholars continue the legacy of late MBA students – The Oxford Eagle

OXFORD, Mississippi — Zach McClendon had just completed his first semester as an MBA student at the University of Mississippi in the fall of 2013 when he was killed in a robbery at his home.

In 2016, the university’s MBA Board of Trustees worked with the UM Foundation to create the Zach McClendon Memorial Assistantship Endowment to honor his memory. Since then, six recipients Monique Ma, Ferderica Cobb, Corbitt Chandler, Cindy Pan, Heath Rooks and Tsering Tashi have completed the assistantship program to pursue their dream occupations.

The current recipient, Cole Barnhill, was an accomplished undergraduate student at the university and serves as the vice president of recruitment for the program.

The recipients all reflect the drive and character that McClendon has shown, said Ashley McGee, MBA’s director of administration.

“I first met Zach when he was considering our program,” McGee said. “During his visit to campus, I knew within minutes of our conversation that Zach was a person looking for success. I was immediately impressed with him and his professionalism.

A native of Gulfport, McClendon received his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biochemistry from Williams College in Massachusetts and in biology and medical sciences from Mississippi College. He planned to continue his education at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson after completing his MBA.

“We chose people who exemplify the spirit of Zach,” said Scott Taylor, former chairman of the MBA Alumni Board, which helped establish the endowment. “We found great recipients who would make him and his family proud.

“Now they are leaving and doing great things to represent not only Zach’s memory, but also the Ole Miss MBA program.”

The first recipient in 2016 was Ma, a graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in music and physics. During her undergraduate years, Ma was affiliated with the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, and the LOU Symphony Orchestra.

“Monique is very impressive,” said Charles Vianey, former chairman of the MBA Alumni Board and another key participant in establishing the memorial. “She had a musical background, was strong in math and strong academically. She lives up to Zach’s spirit, even to this day.

Ma moved to Nashville in 2017 to work for Warner Music Group as a synchronization licensing analyst. Recently, she was promoted to senior management.

“Having been our first, she was the perfect candidate at the perfect time,” Taylor said. “She knew what her dream job would be, and she went and got it. She did amazing things in Nashville.

Cobb, who got the assistant position in 2017, works as a digital marketing specialist for Envision in Jackson.

“Working as a graduate assistant for the MBA office and as a class vice president of communications and public relations, I was able to gain valuable experience that translated into my marketing career,” he said. she declared.

Cobb earned a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications while serving as an Ole Miss Ambassador, Daily Mississippian reporter, and member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

“Just as Zach McClendon was known for his wit and enthusiasm, I strived to bring passion and dedication to every marketing campaign I worked on,” she said.

The third recipient, in 2018, Chandler graduated from Ole Miss in the summer of 2019 with an MBA after earning his bachelor’s degree in risk management at the University of Georgia.

“Each of these students has a unique set of traits,” Vianey said. “We seek to find recipients who are academically strong students, but who also have strong character.”

During his assistantship, Chandler envisioned himself becoming a senior executive at an insurance company. Since then, he has been a partner at Starr Cos.’ Property Division, an investment and insurance organization in Atlanta.

In 2019, the board was impressed by two outstanding candidates. He had sufficient funds to support another position and decided to recognize the two students, Pan and Rooks.

Pan is enrolled in the second year of a doctorate. a student in the Ole Miss finance program, and Rooks is a systems marketing coordinator at Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis.

“I believe my current role as a lifelong learner, and being a pillar of support for those around me, has allowed me to continually reflect Zach’s spirit and enthusiasm,” Pan said. “I am grateful for the opportunities this distinguished assistant has provided me and will continue to exemplify Zach’s exceptional character.”

Prior to receiving his MBA in August 2020, Rooks was involved with business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and UM Business School Chief Emissaries prior to earning a bachelor’s degree. in marketing.

In his job, Rooks spends much of his time managing and assisting with marketing efforts for hospitals and various service lines.

“I believe my assistantship helped me get to where I am today,” Rooks said. “In teaching me to manage both my classwork and client relationships among our MBA office and external alumni council members, I believe the spirit of Zach McClendon has been reflected in my actions since the beginning of my health care career at Baptist.”

A 2020 McClendon recipient, Tashi is committed to improving teaching processes in Nepal. After narrowing his career interests to investment banking and strategy consulting, Tashi is enrolled in consulting prep courses in addition to preparing for the Securities Industry Essentials exam.

“As a recipient of an assistantship, I feel like I’ve been chosen to show leadership and commitment wherever I live, work and study,” Tashi said. “As a result, it always keeps me humble and committed to good causes.”

Barnhill, current recipient of McClendon, from Union, Kentucky, graduated in management from Ole Miss in May 2021. As an undergraduate, he served the school as chief emissary and l university as President of the Interfraternity Council as well as an Ole Miss Ambassador.

For the MBA program, Barnhill is vice president of class recruitment.

“I have had the pleasure of working closely with Cole over the past year,” said Andrew Nail, Chairman of the MBA Alumni Board. “He is an impressive young man who will do great things when he completes the program.

“I look forward to following his professional journey as I know it will have a huge impact on whatever he chooses to do after graduation.”

The Zach McClendon Memorial Assistantship Endowment gives its recipients the opportunity to build relationships while gaining valuable experience alongside the board.

“All the candidates bring a different dimension,” Vianey said. “We’ve always been looking for that special someone who can bring a unique experience and perspective to the program that exemplifies the spirit of Zach.”

The Zach McClendon Memorial Assistantship Endowment is open to supporting organizations and individuals. Donations can be made by sending a check, with the name of the fund noted on the note line, to The University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by donating online at https: //

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