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Winning Awards, Giving Back

Winter Brooks, one of the three Kogod ELC award winners, shares what she’s most excited about with the award and how Kogod helped her get there.

By Jamie McCray

Winter Brooks, BSBA '18

Credit: Winter Brooks

Meet Winter Brooks, BSBA '18. She's driven and on-the-move--and it shows.

Last Spring, Brooks won the Executive Leadership Council's (ELC) award for excellence in business commentary--one of only 14 undergraduates to receive the award nationwide. Her classmates Rachel Fogg and Genever Oppong also won, making Kogod one of the most highly ELC awarded schools. "

It's an honor to be acknowledged as a future African-American business leader," she says. "This shows I'm capable of contributing towards making a more diverse corporate America."

Brooks won $8,000, as well as an invitation to a high-profile leadership conference and gala. Her high academic achievement and professors' recommendations were contributing factors, but her essay was what secured the award. She discussed how companies can attract and retain future business leaders-a key topic of concern in the industry today.

She's most excited about attending the conference and gala, which offers professional development courses, company site visits and key networking opportunities. It's what ultimately drove her to apply. "We'll get to meet CEOs of top companies," she says, "and get to talk to them because we're presented as winners at the conference. It's an incredible opportunity."

For Brooks, the award is more than just the financial and networking benefits. It also supports her personal mission: to give back to her community.

Brooks wants to improve other's lives-especially fellow African-American business professionals. The award positions her as a leader in her community, she says, which provides the autonomy needed to affect change. "I'm really interested in combining business with philanthropy. Studying at Kogod showed me business can have a positive social impact," she says.

She's grateful to AU for inspiring her to make a difference. She says her program's courses and guest speakers she heard framed business as a way to do better in the world.

Her Global Corporate Citizen class was especially impactful. The course prepares students to be managers who promote good citizenship in the economy; students examine common societal values and laws and how to integrate them into a business. "The fact that AU has a whole class dedicated to this says a lot," Winter comments.

This attitude translates into how Kogod regards their students. Brooks credits Kogod's staff with providing the resources she needed to win the ELC award. She wouldn't have applied if staff hadn't sent her information, she says, or encouraged her to submit her essay. "It's another testament to how Kogod has made my time here successful," she says.

Brooks has a busy senior year planned. She's Director of Community Engagement for the Undergraduate Business Association-a brand new position she's spearheading. She's community service chair for her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. She also hopes to participate in other service projects, such as the "adopt a school" tutoring initiative that she helped run last year.

She's also busy figuring out next steps after graduation. She hopes to work for Google, where she interned over the summer, consulting minority-owned small businesses. It feeds into her long-term goal of helping business owners advance their enterprises-especially ones without the resources to do so themselves.

Wherever she goes next, it's certain she'll remain connected to AU in spirit and sentiment. She's grateful for the support she's received winning the ELC Award, and in becoming the young professional she is today.

"AU really cares about building the whole person," she says, "The school has such great values, and it's helped me develop into the person I am now."