Program: MBA, entering fall 2020
Hometown: Glendale, CA
Undergraduate Experience: Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA | Bachelor of Music, Drums; Major – Professional Music
Michelle Zalabak is a musician at heart but sees the value in a business education.
What was the aha moment that led you to apply to the LMU MBA program?
Initially, I looked into a master’s degree in music but realized that was too specific. I wanted a degree that was recession proof. While working at a drug and alcohol treatment center, I determined that an MBA was a better fit for my career goals. After discussing it with my supervisor at a non-profit I worked at, I decided to pursue an MBA.
Why did you choose the LMU MBA program?
I was familiar with LMU because I had friends that went there. You’re not just a number at LMU. They value you. It feels more personal.
When I researched the LMU MBA program, I learned it was highly ranked in entrepreneurship and that I could get in-depth knowledge through the entrepreneurship area of emphasis. Programs at other schools didn’t have as many electives or you couldn’t specialize in an area.
What do you hope to achieve professionally with your LMU graduate education?
My goal is to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that caters to the LGBTQ+ community. There are only a few centers like this in Los Angeles and they have very few beds available. However, there are an estimated 650,000 people in the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles County (according to the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute) and the community has a significantly higher rate of substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts, largely due to increased rates of emotional and physical trauma.
I believe I can have a positive, lasting impact on the LGBTQ+ community by helping those who currently suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. I will use what I learn in the LMU MBA program to develop, open and eventually expand a company that helps those struggling with addiction. My goal is to help the most vulnerable overcome their challenges, allowing the LGBTQ+ community to thrive.
What are you most excited about as you enter the program?
Developing my entrepreneurial skills and starting my business. An emphasis in entrepreneurship will better prepare me for the challenges of opening and operating my own business. The coursework will give me the tools I need to have a sound understanding of all areas of a business and will equip me with the knowledge necessary to be a successful business owner.
Also, having classes in the evening is a huge benefit that allows me to establish my business during work hours while earning my degree at the same time.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Los Angeles?
My wife and I like to go hiking with our dog; our favorite hiking trails are in Porter Ranch and Eaton Canyon near Pasadena. We enjoy visiting Universal Studios with our season passes. Also, I’m very proud of raising funds for and riding in the AIDS Life Cycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. My all-time favorite thing to do is play the drums – I played a lot of jazz in school.