Kellogg Chronicles: Leading As A Kellogg Woman

Bushra and Vice President Kamala Harris

March is Women’s History Month. It is a time to celebrate the vital role that women have played in history and how they impact our society today. I also see this month as an opportunity to acknowledge the challenges faced by the women leaders who came before me, who paved the way for someone like me—a young, Muslim woman—to have a voice.

Being the “first” to do something is both an exciting and humbling experience. It is one that I’ve grown very familiar with since I decided to run for public office in my hometown of Skokie, Illinois as an undergraduate college student. At 21 years old, I was elected to the Skokie Board of Education, making me the youngest Muslim person (and, as I learned later, the first Gen Z woman) to hold elected office in the United States. I currently balance my position as a board member with a full-time role as a solutions consultant at Google, all while pursuing my MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

I encountered many challenges along my campaign journey that were tied to my age, gender, and religion. My platform was often diminished to my clothing and appearance, rather than the core messages of transparency and accessibility that I was running on. Following one particular debate, I was disheartened to see my male opponents’ policy ideas covered by the media while I was solely mentioned as having “sported a stylish pink hijab.” Being reduced to my identity and appearance, meant I was constantly combatting people’s preconceived notions, coupled with not being “Muslim” enough for others. Having witnessed these biases firsthand, I’m even more determined to take a proactive stand against them to better support the next generation of leaders. As someone who is the “first,” I know it is my responsibility to make sure I’m not the last.

Bushra featured in the Chicago Tribune


Between running for office and juggling numerous jobs and internships—plus the onset of a global pandemic—I felt as though I missed out on pivotal points in my undergraduate education. Thus, after less than three years in the working world, I felt there was no better time than the present to pursue an MBA. That way, I could develop myself as a leader and make an even greater impact in my daily work.

In the fall of 2022, I began my journey as a student in the Evening & Weekend program at Kellogg. The school’s strong vision of social impact, emphasis on entrepreneurship, and the responsibility to lead with empathy made the decision a no-brainer for me. In addition, the flexibility of the part-time MBA would allow me to balance my education with my service on the Board and my role at Google.

I was captivated by Kellogg’s inclusive and diverse culture, which is so clearly reflected in its people. There is no shortage of women in my cohort, and there is such a strong sense of support and empowerment. I love that we have the opportunity to come together for events like a “Galentine’s Day” brunch or Managers’ Ball – a chance for the Kellogg community to give back to local charities and causes in the Chicago area.

The inclusivity transcends beyond gender, of course. Our educators reflect the type of people we interact with in society as a whole—from different genders, ethnicities, and religions. From providing time and space for prayer to designating a room for nursing mothers, the inclusion is empowering to see and truly a testament to the type of leaders Kellogg is nurturing. I’m a firm believer that we are all a reflection of the five people closest to us; anyone would be beyond lucky to have one of those five be someone affiliated with Kellogg.

Bushra speaking to a group


Many of the courses (such as “Leading the Strategic Change Process” and Board Governance of Non-Profit Organizations) are exactly aligned with the work that I do on the Board of Education. Learning about frameworks to best guide change in an institution is now my playbook; I’ve been able to affirm my learnings from class by leading our transition from Halloween to Fall Fest in our school district. Seeing the number of students who chose to opt out of Halloween festivities in school reflected how the holiday is not inclusive. By engaging stakeholders proactively and communicating directly where necessary enabled a much smoother transition. While most of my fellow board members come from administrative or teaching backgrounds, I’m able to offer a unique perspective on organizational leadership and navigating larger strategic change—one that I’m able to tap into due to my education at Kellogg.

For me, the Kellogg experience is also an opportunity to do the things that I feel I missed out on during undergrad. For example, I never got to study abroad, so I was excited to see global opportunities such as Global Initiatives in Management and Exchange Programs available to part-time students. I’ve also immersed myself in co-curricular activities at Kellogg and serve as the director of two full-time student groups: Public Speaking Club and Muslims @ Kellogg. This has allowed me to expand my network with the full-time community as well. Being able to lean into the student experience as much as I want to in any capacity has been incredibly exciting. These opportunities enable me to check all the experiential “boxes” that I wasn’t able to during undergrad.

Bushra Amiwala


I often speak to women who aspire to leadership roles—whether that be an elementary-age girl at one of my speaking engagements, or a friend considering applying to business schools. As women, we tend to say no to ourselves, or tell ourselves that we need every qualification necessary before pursuing an opportunity.

However, it’s time we take a chance on ourselves, and there is honestly no better time than the present. Why tell yourself you won’t get accepted to business school when you apply, or that you’re not qualified enough for your dream job? As the old proverb goes: “The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, and the second-best time is today.” I’m a firm believer in that. We will come across so many naysayers in our lives; have confidence in yourself, and let others be the ones to tell you “no.”

Within every woman is the capacity to lead and make a difference, and there is no such thing as the right time, only the right action. I’m grateful that I made the decision to pursue my MBA at Kellogg when I did. My experience thus far has reaffirmed this belief and also has allowed me to grow into the best version of a leader that I can possibly be.

Bushra Amiwala


Bushra Amiwala is an award-winning activist, media icon, dynamic speaker and, the youngest Muslim elected official in the United States. She’s been named Glamour magazine’s College Woman of the Year, Seventeen magazine’s Voice of the Year, and internationally as CosmoGirl’s Change Maker of the Year. Bushra was awarded the Women’s Champion Award sponsored by the United Nations, has graced the cover of TIME magazine, and was recognized as Forbes Magazine’s “Woman to Watch” in 2021.

Bushra has spoken at countless colleges and universities, organizations and international companies, with live audiences ranging from 25 to 15,000 people. She holds her elected seat on the Skokie Board of Education, as its youngest member, is a candidate at Kellogg, Northwestern School of Management pursuing her MBA part-time and continues to work as a Solutions Consultant at Google.


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