Faina Rozental won the prestigious McGowan Fellowship for her outstanding leadership and commitment to social impact investing.
Faina Rozental had her heart set on MIT Sloan. She had a degree in economics and international relations from Boston University. She’d worked at Root Capital, a non-profit impact investing organization in Cambridge. She was passionate about finance and sustainability. Faina knew Sloan was where she belonged. So when she got word she was waitlisted, it was a bit of a shock.
“It was a tough time,” she recalls. “I was devastated.” But Faina had worked too hard to get to where she was. And she knew a little something about overcoming obstacles.
Faina’s family left the Ukraine in 1995 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Faina was 6. In a new country with no knowledge of English, she struggled. “It was hard to leave my whole life at that age,” she says, “but we were very lucky to settle in Brookline.” After six years of ESL classes and lots of hard work, Faina graduated high school and then college. That experience shaped who she is today, and how she reacted when she got waitlisted.
Instead of waiting to find if she got into Sloan or not, Faina registered for the Sustainability Summit, went to the conference, and made herself known. “I basically showed up and made it clear that I wanted to be there,” she says.
It worked. Faina got in. And it’s been everything she’d hoped it would be.
It has exceeded my expectations,” she says. “I can’t imagine myself anywhere else in my life right now.
"The community of people here is just incredible. They are so humble. They’ve accomplished so much, but they won’t tell you about it unless you ask.”
Now, Faina is among those accomplished people. Enrolled in the Finance Track, she’s also pursuing a Sustainability Certificate. She’s president of the MIT Impact Investing Initiative, vice president for finance of the MIT Food and Agriculture Club, a fellow in the MIT Office of Sustainability, and a teaching assistant for the Communication for Leaders class.
Most recently, Faina was selected for the prestigious McGowan Fellowship Program, a nonprofit that partners with top-tier U.S. business schools to award full-tuition scholarships to 10 second-year MBA students. The organization’s goal is to support the development of “principled leaders committed to the betterment of society.” At the program’s annual conference next month, Faina, along with a team of other fellows, will take on a social impact consulting project to be presented to the McGowan Fellows board in the spring.
Faina is still figuring out exactly where her career will take her when she graduates. But she knows it will involve finance and sustainability. “At Root Capital, I loved working for a place that opens up economic opportunity for people, while also preserving natural resources,” she says. Perhaps she’ll work for a large financial institution helping to scale its ESG investing platform or maybe she’ll advise high-net-worth individuals interested in investing based on their values. Whatever, she chooses, odds are Faina will make it happen.