Nandana Penukonda ’16, ’19 Shares Journey with Master’s and Ph.D. Students

A person gestures with their hand while speaking at a podium on a stage in front of a blue backdrop. Image by Ed Brennen
Manning School of Business alumna Nandana Penukonda '16, '19, a business systems analyst at MFS Investment Management in Boston, talks about her experience in the MBA program during the recent graduate hooding ceremony at University Crossing.

By Ed Brennen

Less than a year into her first job out of college as a financial analyst with a local broadband network provider, Nandana Penukonda ’16, ’19 began to feel siloed.
“Why am I even doing this?” the Manning School of Business alumna thought to herself.
So she returned to the Manning School for her Master of Business Administration while continuing to work full time.
“As I participated in my classes, collaborated with my peers and dissected all those case studies, I began to understand how my role connects to the bigger picture,” the Chelmsford, Massachusetts, native said. “I could quickly see such an improvement between my personal and professional growth.”
A large group of people pose for a photo on a staircase. Image by Ed Brennen
More than 150 advanced degree recipients from the Manning School were recognized at the graduate hooding ceremony.

Penukonda shared her story at the Manning School’s recent graduate hooding ceremony at University Crossing, where more than 150 students were recognized for completing their advanced degrees.
Presiding over her first hooding ceremony as Rist Family Endowed Dean of the Manning School, Bertie Greer congratulated the graduates on their achievement and thanked faculty, family and friends for their support.
“Hooding signals a readiness to embark on the next stage of your professional or academic journey,” Greer told graduates. “It represents the beginning of new opportunities and challenges. All of you are ready for these new beginnings.”
Four people pose for a photo. There is a blue banner in the distance behind them. Image by Ed Brennen
Family and friends celebrated graduate students from the Manning School, including MBA grad Olivia Campbell, left, and M.S. in accounting grad Jessica Caredeo, second from left.

Outstanding Student Awards went to Jessica Lynn Caredeo (M.S. in accounting), Wijie Zhang (M.S. in accounting), Harshit Chandrol (M.S. in business analytics) and Sakshi Jeena (M.S. in business analytics).
Two students received the Gary Mucica Outstanding MBA Student Award for finishing with perfect 4.0 grade point averages: Saomenea Phorn and Luis Angel Mejias.
Sixty-eight MBA students from the Manning School’s Abitus partnership in Japan traveled to campus to take part in the hooding ceremony and Commencement. Risako Hagio, who works as a regional marketing promoter for a Tokyo-based travel company, received the Outstanding Abitus Student Award.
Three graduates of the Ph.D. program — Holly Lalos (leadership and organization studies), Yiping Li (marketing) and Cuibing Wu (management information systems) — were recognized by Ph.D. Program Director Tony Gao.
Nine people, seven of them wearing suits, are standing by a cocktail table and posing for a photo. Image by Ed Brennen
Sixty-eight MBA students from the Manning School's Abitus partnership in Japan traveled to Lowell for the hooding ceremony and Commencement.

Assoc. Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Yi Yang noted that in her 18 years at the Manning School, the graduate program has grown from 250 students to more than 1,500.
Penukonda is now a business systems analyst at MFS Investment Management in Boston, where she worked as an enterprise architecture co-op during her junior year.
“My MBA journey taught me the power of confidence, curiosity and the value of asking questions,” Penukonda told the graduates. “I learned this from other students from various walks of life who all shared the same goal as me. … And the most beautiful thing was collaborating and learning with one another.”