Krista McNally Chosen as Graduate Student Speaker for 2021 Commencement

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Krista McNally, a member of the inaugural MBA for Biotech Professionals cohort, was selected to represent graduate students from the Class of 2021 as Graduate Student Speaker at San Francisco State University’s 120th Commencement ceremony to be held on May 21, 2021.

“It is a matter of great pride for the Lam Family College of Business that Krista McNally has been chosen as graduate student speaker,” says Dean Eugene Sivadas. “It is a testament to the quality of our students, programs, and faculty and the transformational experience of our programs that a student from the inaugural cohort of a brand new program was chosen for this very competitive honor.”
McNally currently works for Chimera Bioengineering, a start-up located in South San Francisco focused on discovering and developing new immune cell therapies to fight cancer. Over the past three years, as she progressed through the MBA program, McNally’s work became progressively more external-facing and included collaborating on joint projects with other biotech companies, as well as managing studies for contract research organizations. She recently transitioned to a new role as head of external manufacturing. “The MBA for Biotech Professionals gave me a view of the entire drug development process and all the functions and skills necessary to run a successful organization in this industry,” said McNally. She added, “I've become more confident that I can bring as much, or even more, value away from the bench as I did while at it.”
Faculty Director of Graduate Business Programs and Marketing Professor Sanjit Sengupta, who led the development of the MBA for Biotech Professionals program, commented,  “I've had Krista in two of my courses and she was an outstanding student.  Beyond that, Krista jumped into the spirit of this being a startup academic program and helped us recruit potential students by talking to them during class visits, participating in our outreach events, and even being in our promotional videos and brochures. She has supported the learning of her classmates in the program and, I believe, will make important future contributions to the biotech industry.”
Prior to enrolling in our MBA for Biotech Professionals program and volunteering for activities with the SF State community, McNally spent three tax seasons volunteering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free tax preparation services to individuals requiring assistance, including the elderly and people with low incomes, limited English proficiency, and disabilities.
“It was a very positive, non-science experience that I had in the years leading up to my decision to get an MBA, and I hope to return to it next year,” she said. McNally’s interest in service work reflects those who have inspired her and set an example for giving back to the community – her father, a high school teacher and coach; her mother, a nurse; and the local couple who provided a full scholarship that funded McNally’s undergraduate education. “These and other role models in my life convinced me that whatever time and talents I have, should also be used to help others achieve their goals,” she added. “It is about paying it forward.”
While the pandemic caused disruption to the nature of school, work, and community engagement, McNally believes it also placed an important spotlight on the biotech industry. “The LFCOB's motto – Innovate Sustainably. Lead Responsibly. - exactly applies to the biotech industry,” she commented. “We especially need long-term thinking and ethical leadership in an industry that must constantly earn the public's trust. SFSU has an opportunity, with this biotech MBA, to play a key role in educating the future leaders of this industry.”
As for her Commencement speech, McNally plans to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the University and the Class of 2021 - something she expects will be top of mind during the virtual Commencement ceremony. “It is a seminal event that, even as it pushed us apart physically, has been a unifying experience for the graduating class,” she explained. “Throughout my time at SFSU, I've been inspired by the members of my cohort, as well as by the faculty and staff who have worked hard to support us. When I got the news, my first thought was, ‘Wow! I can't believe they picked me,’ and then, because the end of the semester was upon us, and the work has really been piling up with our Capstone class, my next thought was, ‘Oh no, now I have to write a speech, too!’”
We are honored that the Lam Family College of Business will be represented by Krista McNally as this year’s San Francisco State Graduate Student Commencement Speaker. Join us in congratulating Krista McNally and the entire graduating class of 2021.
Register in advance to join the online commencement celebration and honor the San Francisco State University Graduating Class of 2021.