Alumni Spotlight: Gracia Zita Widjaja
Not many people decide to pursue their doctorate before the age of 27; even fewer choose to do it in their second language. Gracia Zita Widjaja is one of them. As an international student from Indonesia, her academic journey has not been easy, but she has not let difficulty stop her. Her drive, faith, and dreams for the future are inspirational. I know that you will be encouraged and moved by her story.
You got your Master’s in Business Administration at NU and now you are working on your doctorate. What motivated you to come and study in the US, and what has motivated you along your academic journey?
I came to the US when I was 18. I went to Shoreline Community College for 2 years and then I transferred to the University of Washington. That is when started to work for Amazon, and I still work for them today!
I decided to go back to school for my MBA, because now-a-days it is not enough to just have a bachelor’s degree, especially as an international student. There is a lot of competition. I considered: “what could I offer to stand out?”
I also am an only child. My dad passed-away when I was 11. I grew up with my grandma from my dad’s side and my mom. Both were incredible role models in my life. My mom and grandma are very successful businesswomen and one day I want to be like them. They inspired me to pursue my MBA.
However, my life-long dream is to go back and teach because my dad was a lecturer. I did not really get to know him for very long, but he inspired me so much. Maybe someday I can teach, and be an inspiration especially for international students, minorities, and women, like me!
Tell me more about your experience in the NU MBA program. What was a highlight?
Coming to NU was very, very shocking, because I was used to a big school and having 400 students in my classes. At the University of Washington, I would go to a class, meet random people, and get so much information without feeling like it was my place, or my community.
I am thankful I got my MBA at NU, because the smaller a school is, the more you get to know your peers. I made some good friends in my MBA cohort.
What would you tell an international student who wants to work for a big, Seattle company?
Rejections. There will always be rejections. Do not be disappointed because you just get one rejection. I applied to hundreds of jobs. Do not undervalue yourself, even if your English is not perfect. Just apply!
Gracia graduated from NU MBA program in 2020
Today you will find Gracia working hard on her Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Business Leadership and Consulting. Through CPT, she is still working at Amazon. She balances it all with grace and cheerfulness. We are excited to see what the future holds for her.