Medal winner studies leadership

June 09, 2005, vol. 33, no. 4
By Diane Luckow

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A business law class in third year university inspired Melissa Cook to make the law her career. But enroute to law school, the Calgarian took a detour to earn a one-year master of business administration degree in leadership and organizational change at SFU.

With a bachelor of arts in communications and a bachelor of commerce in finance already in hand from the University of Calgary, Cook felt an MBA wouldn't go amiss in the world of law.

"I've always wanted to be really well-rounded so that whether I work at a law firm or for a corporation, I'll understand the needs of the market," she says. "I had already done a finance degree so I thought that a degree on the other end of the spectrum would be a nice complement and a degree in leadership and organizational change was perfect.

"I couldn't believe how dedicated the profs were to ensuring the students got a phenomenal experience. The quality of teaching was unparalleled to anything I've seen."

Cook's dedication was also apparent - she maintained a grade point average of 4.248 out of a possible 4.33, earning her the dean of graduate studies' convocation medal in business.

At the same time, she worked as a teaching assistant for SFU business and as a special instructor, taking over a course in organizational behaviour to finish out the semester for an absent professor.

She also took on a research project, examining the social and political processes involved in establishing the downtown eastside safe injection site and researching other sites around the world as a platform for continued research by SFU business professor Tom Lawrence. As well, she found time for community work, volunteering with the Burnaby citizen support services as a phone buddy for lonely seniors.

Cook, who worked for the Bank of Montreal during her undergraduate years, is spending the summer working in the legal department of a Calgary oil and gas firm before returning to law school at the University of Calgary in the fall. She might, she says, even find time to write a book for students on the basics of financial management so that they can finish their post-secondary education in control of their finances.

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