2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Zakiyya Ellington, University of Georgia (Terry)

Zakiyya Ellington

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

Life Goals: Become Rachel Lindsay (from the Bachelorette) and adopt a manatee.”

Fun fact about yourself: I own the North Texas swimming 10 & under 50-meter backstroke record!

Hometown: Allen, Texas

High School: Allen High School

Major: Accounting, Arabic, MS Business Analytics

Minor: Spanish

Favorite Business Course: Legal Regulatory Environment of Business

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Schwarzman Scholar
  • Foundation Fellow & Stamps Scholar
  • Sea Island Scholar
  • Hostilo Family Award in History
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, Palladia Women’s Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society
  • Athens Prison Tutorial tutor
  • UGA Kickstart Fund Partner & Administrative Director
  • Terry Ambassador
  • Honors Teaching Assistant
  • UGA Women’s Rugby Club treasurer
  • Leaders Engaged in Affirming Diversity Fellow
  • Delta Sigma Pi Co-Vice President of Professional Activities
  • Black Business Student Association (BBSA) mentor
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) Career Prep Fellow

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Fall 2017: Food & Water Watch, Campus Organizer, Athens, Georgia
  • Summer 2019: McKinsey & Company, Sophomore Summer Business Analyst, Dallas, Texas
  • Summer 2020: McKinsey & Company, Summer Business Analyst, Dallas, Texas
  • Spring 2021: NBCUniversal Media LLC, Broadcast Programming Research Intern, virtual

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Dr. Jennifer Gaver. I took Honors Principles of Accounting I and II with Dr. Gaver my freshman year. Those introductory accounting courses affirmed my interest in accounting and my choice of business major. Dr. Gaver has also had a much larger impact on me than those two classes. Having met her freshman year, she was the first professor I had at UGA who got to know me personally and believed in me and my goals. She has remained a mentor to me throughout my college career and has supported all my changing ambitions, from as a freshman believing I wanted to become a CPA, to now as a senior pursuing various postgraduate fellowships.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Find a way to advance your data analytics skills. Data/business analytics are increasingly important to every industry and having skills in this area can open an array of opportunities, including into entirely new industries with which you may not have had previous experience. For example, I am really interested in the media, entertainment, and sports industry but had not had relevant experience before this semester. Being a business analytics student and having an analytical background allowed me to find an internship to get exposure to the industry.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? It was how far networking truly can take you. As someone who is very introverted, networking has always been an intimidating concept, and I was skeptical of its importance. But I’ve learned that building relationships with others – with other students and professionals in your target industry – is really about learning from them, and those organic insights are more valuable than anything on a website. Additionally, “networking” really is just building relationships. It doesn’t always have to be in the form of large social situations; it can also be genuine one-on-one conversations.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I probably would have done case competitions. They are valuable opportunities to build your problem-solving toolkit and gain professional experience that employers value, as well as to have fun and meet and work with other business students.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my work as an Honors Teaching Assistant (HTA). As an HTA, for two semesters I taught first-semester Honors students, usually freshmen, in areas of professional and academic development as well as the extracurricular and academic opportunities available at UGA and externally. I really care about this course because it helps young students think about how they want to maximize their college experience, and teaching it gives me the opportunity to pay my own knowledge and experiences forward to help them. It has been really rewarding to get to know my students and their interests and to see them grow, take leadership positions, excel in academic endeavors, and even become HTAs themselves.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate and friend Kamryn Cannon. He is one of the most ambitious, hardworking, and supportive people I know. Despite his already extensive experience and involvement, he is always looking for a new opportunity to learn about anything and everything, especially the things about which he is passionate, and most importantly, to give back to others along the way. His dedication to making his dreams happen inspires me even when I’m feeling uninspired. I’m so excited to see him become the next great film producer.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I always want to thank my mother – she is without a doubt the biggest reason for my successes. She is my biggest mentor and supporter. She has always gone out of her way to help me find opportunities, and her only concern is helping me figure out how to reach my goals, no matter what they may be. She believes in me when I don’t believe in myself.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Work internationally and/or in a second language.
  2. Get into a top MBA program.

What are your hobbies? Playing and watching sports, traveling, live music, violin, skiing




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