Marchella and Army recruiter

U.S. Army Reserves Specialist Shares Value of Leadership at SIEML 2020
Becoming an effective leader in every aspect of life

Editor’s note: The University of California’s Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML) offers an immersive business and career leadership experience for sophomores or juniors at an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) or HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution). The program rotates annually to each of the six UC business schools. The UC Davis Graduate School of Management hosted a virtual SIEML experience from May 17 – May 28, 2020.

Marchella enlists in US Army

When I signed up to serve in the United State Army Reserves five years ago, I originally enrolled for the educational benefits. The Army became my top career option and a pathway to higher education. But little did I know that the true benefit of my service came from the lessons I gleaned in leadership.

I joined the Army when I was a senior in high school after excelling in the JROTC program all four years.  The move offered me a military career and allowed me to pursue a secondary career while helping finance a degree. The military taught me how to be organized, disciplined, structured, and ethical, all while molding me into a leader.

I am currently ranked as a Specialist (E-04) rank, working in the Midwest and East U.S. as a cargo specialist. Being centrally located in Mississippi, proximity was one of the reasons I chose to enroll at JSU. I chose to study finance and accounting after noticing the lack of financial literacy in my community and that led me to find the Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML).

It seemed like overnight that I became a soldier, a full-time student at Jackson State University, and a part-time employee.


On May 17, I began what I consider the ultimate leadership institute. Being a resident of the South all of my life, attending graduate school elsewhere has always been a goal of mine. When I discovered the SIEML program, I knew I had to apply.

SIEML is an 11-day, immersive experience hosted by one of the University of California (UC) business schools. This year, the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management was set to welcome 40 students to the program on campus prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

SIEML on Zoom

Although our group had to transition to a virtual program, I am truly pleased to have been selected to represent Jackson State University at this enriching program. SIEML was an unrivaled experience where I learned how to become a leader in the business world, and I was able to demonstrate the leadership qualities that I already possess.

It was an opportunity to enhance my professional development skills, learn about the six UC business schools, and network with UC faculty and staff. We heard from representatives from each school, enhanced our career development skills, discovered new self-development skills, and gained insight that made each member of our cohort a better future applicant.

The program gave me insight to many different aspects of my professional career.

One of the lasting impressions I have came from a representative from UC Berkeley who encouraged us to go to a graduate school that challenges us. They shared with us three things that the Berkeley Haas MBA admissions team is looking for:

  1. Academic aptitude
  2. Professional experience
  3. Personal qualities

As with many of the application tips provided to us, we learned exactly what Haas Business School admissions staff were looking for in potential students, giving us a leg up on our future competition.

UC Berkeley also shared their four defining leadership principles: questioning the status quo and emphasizing innovation, having confidence but not attitude, putting students first always, and going beyond yourself to shape the world ethically and responsibly. 

These four principles are values that I can take with me anywhere throughout my journey and will help me be an effective leader in my future endeavors.


On the first day of the SIEML program, UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s Assistant Dean of Student Affairs hosted a collaborative leadership self-assessment activity. This was an important way to start the program as our cohort got to know each other and learn about our past leadership opportunities.

It is evident that members of the cohort were in many leadership positions already. But this program provided the resources and knowledge to enhance those leadership skills and transition into the world of business.

Each UC business school gave wonderful tips about the importance of teamwork and diversity within teams. A representative from UC Irvine stated, “Individuals do not need to be well-rounded, teams do.”

Comparatively, the GSM’s Vice Chancellor told our group to, “Be great at the things you are good at.” Although these two quotes were given on different days, they coincide. If each member of a team enhances their best existing qualities, the team will do better, and if they can bring those skills together, then they will prosper. This was personally a key takeaway from the entire program.

Participating in SIEML let me know that I am equipped with the skills to be an effective leader in every aspect of my life.

The military has prepared me for a future in a leadership role, but SIEML helped open my eyes to new opportunities and avenues in business. The information that I received about graduate school, the six UC business schools, and the professional skills I built, has helped me create a stable foundation for my future. I am forever grateful for this experience and I’m ready for the next step in my journey.