The IIT Stuart School of Business Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 17 represented the culmination of years of academic study and a host of personal and professional experiences.
When B.S. Business Administration candidate Ameena Payne started her journey at IIT Stuart, however, she didn’t expect that she would be receiving her degree on the same day that her father, M.B.A. graduate David Payne, Jr., would earn his second IIT degree.
“My dad was taking some courses prior to me attending IIT,” she said. “When I decided to transfer, I knew I wanted to stay in Chicago, and he suggested that I apply here. He had a huge impact on my decision to IIT, and I am really happy that I came. It was the exact experience that I wanted academically.”
Ameena started her college journey on a full tennis scholarship at Chicago State, and transferred to IIT Stuart to study business. Meanwhile, her father was pursuing his dual-M.P.A./M.B.A. degree from IIT Stuart while working full-time as Director of Finance at Alivio Medical Center, Inc.
“I have an accounting and auditing background, and recognized that a major growth in my company was going to be in the non-profit area — hospitals, municipalities, universities,” said David. “I wanted to pursue formal training to help me capitalize on this trend, and I knew that IIT had a good program.” After completing his M.P.A. requirements in 2012, David decided to enroll in the dual-M.P.A./M.B.A. program to continue his strong relationships with IIT Stuart faculty.
The ability to balance engaging work and rigorous academics runs in the family. “I have always had an entrepreneurial mind,” Ameena says, which is why an internship opportunity with a Chicago-area startup called KLUTCHclub was an ideal fit. “I had a lot of responsibility, and it was amazing to work in an environment that was so fast-paced, with leaders who were so aggressive with their goals,” she says. “I learned that I really thrive under that kind of pressure.”
In addition to her internship, Ameena also served as president of TEDxIIT in 2012, an independently organized on-campus TED event. “The experience allowed me to connect with students from all over campus,” she said. “It is a great organization for students to showcase their creative sides and their unique skills.” Following the success of IIT’s event, Ameena applied to attend a TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, and was selected to represent IIT with an all-expense paid trip to the Middle East.
“I’m very proud of Ameena,” said David. “I knew IIT was a school where she could find other students who are like her — innovative and entrepreneurial.”
Following graduation, Ameena will travel and do consulting work until next spring, when she plans to look into IIT’s Master of Industrial Technology and Management program. “I started looking at what types of work I could do with a combination of a business background and an INTM advanced degree, and learned that I could actually help build the infrastructures of cities, or I could work in areas that help distribute resources among city residents,” she said. “These areas are completely where my interests lie — helping people have access to the resources they need, improving the quality of their lives, and doing the most good in the community.”
David will continue to use his two professional degrees to advance his company. “My education has really enhanced my knowledge and exposed me to new techniques and trends in my industry,” he said. “The courses in finance, marketing, public administration, healthcare management and technology have all been highly relevant to my career.”