It was June 2015. I was sitting at my office desk in New York City and reviewing the current day’s financial news headlines as part of my morning routine. Futures were up, XYZ Company reported earnings, and U.S. unemployment rate is down… Suddenly, a banner ad popped up. While I usually find these ads a nuisance and don’t pay much attention to them, this particular one caught my eye: Oxford Empowering Women Through Education: New York. And so, my journey of 3,408 miles to Oxford began with a single click.
I had no idea when I registered for the Oxford women’s event that it would open the door to the next chapter of my professional and personal development. As someone who is passionate about women empowerment, I seek out opportunities to meet other like-minded individuals. I spend much of my free time at the Financial Women’s Association of New York mentoring young women and helping them launch their business careers. On the evening of the event, Professor Linda Scott, Emeritus DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, gave an engaging lecture on the Double X Economy. She compared the state of women empowerment and entrepreneurship in both developed and developing countries. I was captivated by her findings. I still vividly remembered how she was standing in front of us, a group of aspiring women professionals in New York City, and stating that, in some countries, women are still not allowed to start their own businesses to provide for themselves and their families. She continued on to tell us that even in countries where women can start businesses, they often have no access to capital to launch because no one would lend to them. This point resonated in me. As a woman working in finance, I was thinking to myself, how great it would be if I could be in a position to help these women start their ventures by providing them access to capital.
During the reception, I introduced myself to the admissions officer and an EMBA alumna. I shared with them my background and professional experience. At the end of the night, they both encouraged me to seriously consider the Oxford EMBA programme and to learn more about the women’s scholarships available. I remembered going home that night feeling both excited and apprehensive. On the one hand, I was exhilarated about the prospect of attending the oldest university in the English-speaking world. As someone who immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong, a former British colony, Oxford and Cambridge were the first prestigious universities I ever knew. Like many children from the colonial era, I learned English using the Oxford English-Chinese dictionary. I grew up at a time when Margaret Thatcher, an Oxford alumna, was the first woman British prime minister. While the idea of going to Oxford would be a childhood dream come true, on the flip side, I started to feel a bit intimidated about the whole application process. After all, I graduated from a public university and not from an Ivy League school. I am not what people would consider a “pedigree.” I asked myself, “Can I get into Oxford?”
Over the next few months, I kept in touch with the EMBA alumna in New York, and she answered many of my questions and concerns. She kept encouraging me to move forward with the application. I spent many hours on the Saïd Business School website learning about the EMBA programme, the women support networks, and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. I attended another EMBA programme event in New York and listened to webinars. The more I learned, the more I wanted to get into the Oxford EMBA programme.
Finally, in spring 2016, I submitted my application and went over the pond to the City of Dreaming Spires to pursue my Oxford dream. While I was nervous for the admissions interview, I was in awe with the campus. I immediately knew when I stepped off the train from London that this is where I wanted to be. As I sat down with the admissions officer for tea in the Saïd Business School dining hall after the campus tour, I looked up and saw a portrait of Margaret Thatcher hanging on the wall. It was just surreal to me that I am at Oxford and that I might have the opportunity to study at the same university as Margaret Thatcher.
When the acceptance email came, as I was riding the New York City subway to work one morning, I had tears in my eyes. I read the email twice to make sure that it was true. Later in the summer, a greater honour was bestowed upon me when I was awarded the Oxford EMBA Women’s Scholarship in association with the 30% Club. I know that there are women in certain parts of the world who are still barred from school and cannot get an education. As I look to the first module of the Oxford EMBA, I know how lucky I am to be given this opportunity. I have been very fortunate to be mentored by many inspiring women and men throughout my career. I am eager to meet my classmates and embark on the Oxford journey. I am confident that, together, we will use our EMBA knowledge to tackle global problems and empower the world.Back to top of article