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Maki Fellowships Aid Two MBA Students

April 19, 2016

Maki Scholarship recipients announced.

While there are numerous undergraduate scholarships designed to help students working on their Bachelor’s degrees, financial assistance for graduate students is much more difficult to come by.  LSBE is no different.  The School awards over $100,000 of undergraduate scholarships annually, yet in the past, few similar opportunities existed for graduate students in the Labovitz MBA Program.  Thanks to the generosity of our own alumnus, Dennis Maki, all that changed this year. 

After hearing about the financial challenges faced by many of our graduate students, Maki agreed to fund TWO annual, renewable scholarships earmarked specifically for them.  The Maki Graduate Tuition Fellowship provides for $6,000 annually to help students with their graduate tuition costs.  In addition, like the Maki undergraduate scholarships, these awards are renewable for up to two years, meaning they can substantially assist our students in paying for their program.

“Typically, the majority of the funding comes out of the students’ own pockets,” says Al Roline, Director of the Labovitz MBA Programs. “Most of our students are working full time and going to school.”  While a number of employers do provide partial reimbursement of tuition for students seeking their MBA, most such programs are capped at $5,250 annually

The recipients of the first two Maki Graduate Tuition Fellowships are perfect examples of the students Dennis Maki is hoping to help. Kelsi Thompson and Michael Johnston, two students in the Labovitz MBA Progam offered in Duluth are full time employees as well as students. Thompson is currently project manager for the Lion Hotel Group in Duluth where she oversaw the $5 million renovation of Duluth’s Holiday Inn & Suites. Johnston is a mainline cost analyst for Enbridge currently working on the Sandpiper and Bakken pipeline projects.  Through his diligence and hard work, he is currently responsible for budgets in excess of $1.7 billion.

While Enbridge offers a generous reimbursement package for promising employees, the tuition expense may be significantly more dependent upon the number of semester credits taken. In applying for the fellowship, one of the financial concerns Johnston cited was his upcoming marriage. He credits the Maki Fellowship with helping him start this new chapter of his life with less student debt.

“I strongly believe my progress in UMD's MBA program has helped me leverage my position within the company, demonstrating my commitment to achieve excellence,” said Johnston. “Through Mr. Maki's generous contribution, I have been able to finance the MBA tuition cost with minimal impact to my personal savings. His scholarship allowed me to participate in other life events, creating cherished memories for me and my family, which is something I will always be grateful for.”

Thompson, who was previously a 2014 graduate of the Duluth Chamber’s leadership program, currently is working on two new large hotel development projects, one in Hermantown and one in Bloomington, through Lion Hotel Group. While she has been fortunate in the past to have attained some other scholarship funding, the Maki Fellowship has helped her personal share of the expense.

“The MBA program has allowed me to grow in my career by providing me with a unique perspective in a wide range of management practices,” said Thompson.  “Because of the generosity of Mr. Maki, I have been able to focus on my career and on the MBA program with less concern about the cost of the program.”

 “The Maki Fellowship has stringent application criteria, including demonstrated financial need, academic caliber, and a level of prior work experience,” said Roline. Johnston and Thompson are two top students that more than met those criteria.”

Scholarship applications for both the Maki Graduate Tuition Fellowship and other MBA Tuition Fellowships are now being accepted for the 2016-2017 academic year. Full application instructions can be found on the LSBE website.