If you think all M.B.A. students are hovering over their financial calculators trying to understand present value, or just memorizing fancy financials terms for an upcoming exam, you obviously haven’t met a well-rounded M.B.A. student of the 21st century.
Meet Tenaj Ferguson; she shatters all M.B.A. stereotypes with her nontraditional background. Tenaj is a business owner, bikini bodybuilding competitor, and Bahamian flavor-pairing expert. Now she is the first M.B.A. Consortium Fellow to take home a title that is only given to one businesswoman every year: Ms. Corporate America. Imagine going to class with a crown on your head, sash around your chest, and brand management book in your hand. You’ll definitely turn heads without saying a word.
Tenaj Ferguson never intended to participate in a pageant, when she entered business school at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, until she found out about the Ms. Corporate America pageant.
“I was impressed by the richness of each queen’s reign, and all the opportunities the title helped them to create, such as attending and hosting women’s networking events, partnering with companies who support the mission, and—for one past queen—starting a women’s business incubator,” said Ferguson during an interview. “I had never been in a pageant. The closest I’ve been would’ve been public speaking and competitive bikini bodybuilding. But I wanted to promote the diversity of thought, killer skills, and leadership that women bring to the table.”
Do you want to know the special ingredients that Tenaj Ferguson used to create her recipe for success at the Ms. Corporate America pageant? Here’s a hint: Her hours at the gym as a certified fitness professional account for only a piece of her victory pie. With that in mind, check out these five facts about your new Ms. Corporate America, Tenaj Ferguson.
1. Tenaj Ferguson Received a Full-Ride M.B.A. Scholarship
Who says you must leave business school with six-figure debt, if you want the best education? When you’re a brilliant business boss like Tenaj, the normal rules of engagement don’t apply. In fact, people will throw money at your feet, in hopes that you’ll choose their M.B.A. program.
Tenaj won the Texas Venture Labs Business Scholarship competition, which helped her secure a $10,000 scholarship. She then received a Consortium fellowship that wiped away all her tuition and fees. It sounds like somebody hit the M.B.A. jackpot!
2. You Might Find Her Wearing Pink and Green Sorority Letters
Tenaj is a proud member of the first black Greek sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. She was responsible for creating and managing programs, as vice president of the Rho Mu chapter, where she was initiated while at the University of Richmond.
“AKA has always been a solid sisterhood and network, wherever I lived. So, I’m grateful that I joined because the women have been wonderful friends, mentors, and supporters,” said Tenaj.
With a membership of over 290,000 college-educated members, according to its website, Alpha Kappa Alpha is focused on “the lifelong personal and professional development of each of its members, and galvanizing its membership into an organization of respected power and influence, consistently at the forefront of effective advocacy and social change that results in equality and equity for all citizens of the world.”
3. She Is the Founder of Lady Epicure Gourmet
Tenaj’s Nutrition and Food Science studies came in handy when she decided to launch Lady Epicure Gourmet, a natural food brand that manufactures frozen novelty products. You have to try her gluten-free, non-dairy frozen bars, which have all her customers coming back for more, even during the cold winter months. Besides making tasty treats for her clients, she manages the marketing, branding, accounting, and technology requirements behind the business.
4. She Mesmerizes With Her Powerful Speaking Skills
It’s true—there isn’t a week that goes by that Tenaj isn’t asked to share her pearls of wisdom to business students or the entire business community. That’s what happens when you win the ‘Best Speaker’ award in the Texas Venture Lab competition!
Now, she’s in high demand–even receiving requests to participate as a speaker for the Bahamian Embassy’s speaker series in Washington, D.C., during the height of her entrepreneurial journey. How often does the embassy knock on your door, requesting your speaking services? Go Tenaj!
5. She is the Undisputed Cooking Queen
If there was a talent competition during the Ms. Corporate America competition, Tenaj would definitely win over the judges with her irresistible combination of spices and herbs in her most sought after dishes. She’s worked for Dr. Oz at his nonprofit HealthCorps as a program coordinator and regional team leader. Additionally, she’s led one of the many Teen Battle Chef competitions, where she helped high school students learn culinary skills. Tenaj also organized a battle in Baltimore for several high school-aged groups to face-off in a cook-off. So, if you need cooking advice to complement your career success, you know who to call!
For more information on the Ms./Mrs. Corporate America pageant, or to request to have this year’s winner, Tenaj Ferguson, speak at your next event, please contact the pageant at www.mscorporateamerica.com.