From her upbringing in Mexico, to her high school years in rural Idaho, to pursuing her education in Chicago, Monica Martens has always had a global mindset.
“I’m really driven by wanting to make the world a better place, and using the business lens to do that,” she said. “I'm interested in diving deeper into the nonprofit sector, specifically venture philanthropy.”
After studying international studies at DePaul University, Monica started work in the finance industry with a focus on nonprofit lending. Now, she works at the Chicago Public Education Fund, where she works with public schools to invest in programs and leaders that support students.
She says it was her female mentors in the finance industry who made her strongly consider getting an MBA.
“Once I was in the banking industry, I saw how all these people with MBAs quickly rose in their career,” she said. “I was really lucky to be a part of a group of women who all had their MBAs and graduate degrees. They pushed me to keep learning more and advancing in my career.”
Emphasis on impact
Monica knew that she wanted to stay in Chicago for business school to maintain the connections she’d built in college and her early career. She says that the Kellogg information sessions she went to attracted her because she felt the people there shared her same commitment to social change.
“Kellogg was always the shining star that I wanted to go to because of their focus on social impact and leadership,” she said. “There was always this desire to make the world a better place. That’s the direction I wanted to go with my leadership, and I felt like the people attending Kellogg have that same vision.”
Paying it forward
When she’s not performing improv comedy at Second City or participating in Launch U, a mentorship program for Chicago high school students, Monica is involved with several organizations at Kellogg: the Hispanic Management Association, the Women’s Business Association and Net Impact.
On the HMA, Monica says she wants to help Latinx students develop a strong network of trusted advisors similar to the ones she had early on in her career.
“Those mentors [I had], those were Latina women, and growing up with a Latina single mom, I saw the value in supporting Latinx voices. It felt important to create a network of other Latinos and Latinas at Kellogg, both as a way to support each other but also just to create a connection,” she said.
Reflecting back and looking forward
Monica says that her experience at Kellogg has helped her be more intentional with her time by building a strong network of peers, professors and friends, and learning about an industry she’s truly passionate about. Most of all, Monica says she hopes to stay in touch with her peers as they continue their careers in Chicago after graduation next year.
“The nice thing about being in Chicago, and maybe this is particular for the Evening & Weekend Program, is that a lot of people stay in Chicago after we graduate Kellogg,” she said. “I’m excited to keep those relationships blossoming.”