Hershey Vivelle Clorina ’14 spent the first seven years of her life in a small province of the Philippines before her parents brought her to the United States. It was a difficult transition for the family. None of them spoke fluent English, and they found themselves living below the poverty line. However, Clorina’s parents emphasized the importance of education, especially college. Clorina took their message to heart, worked hard, and dreamed of becoming an engineer.
A guidance counselor helped her through the college application process, and several schools offered Clorina a scholarship, but she was drawn to MIT. “MIT was a great engineering school, and it was in Cambridge,” Clorina says. She was eager to see the East Coast; she’d never left the area around San Diego since arriving there as a child. Clorina was the recipient of the Charles Diebold III Memorial Scholarship, a generous award that made attending MIT possible.
Shortly after arriving in Cambridge, her father lost his job. Looking for a way to help, Clorina joined Tech Callers—a work opportunity on campus that involves reaching out to alumni and bolstering their engagement with the MIT community. “I wanted to succeed at that job so I could send money home to help my family,” she says. She registered for a managerial communications class thinking it would help her better communicate with alumni and prospective donors. What she didn’t know was how that step would steer her in an entirely new direction.
Asked to present a product for a hypothetical conference, she received the highest grade in the class for both content and presentation. “I absolutely loved that class,” she explains. Senior lecturer Terence Heagney, who taught the course, encouraged Clorina to seek out more opportunities to be at the forefront. “Not only did the class help my Tech Caller skills, but it also instilled a passion for business communications and problem solving,” she says.
Originally thinking she was going to major in engineering, she found herself, surprisingly, drawn to management—and more. “MIT encourages everyone to try new things and get out of their comfort zones,” Clorina says. “From switching majors or schools to taking MBA-level courses as an undergrad to participating in UROP [Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program]—there were never any limits. Academic and extracurricular options were endless.” She credits her scholarship with allowing her to take advantage of so many of these opportunities. One of her most rewarding experiences, she says, was working as a teaching assistant for an MIT summer program that offers academic assistance to economically disadvantaged kids. “I wanted them to have access to the same incredible opportunities I was enjoying.”
Clorina currently manages a group of business analysts at Fisher Investments. Much of the skill set she relies on in this role was acquired during her time at MIT. “Seemingly disconnected topics have come together in such beneficial ways,” she says. “For example, my experience with cognitive research helped me better understand marketing strategies, and my ability to not only design statistical tests but also implement them and interpret the results helped move our business forward during lean times.” But there’s one area that Clorina emphasizes beyond the rest. “I keep coming back to the soft skills,” she says. “At MIT, I learned how to adapt my communications for a specific audience. I can express my ideas to executive vice presidents as effectively as I can to my peers, and that has helped me succeed at every level.”
The community she built at MIT has contributed to her success, too. “I have a wonderful group of alumni friends, and MIT’s robust network helped me find all of my internships and my first post-graduate job,” Clorina explains. She also met her now husband at MIT. “So many of the good things in my life are because of MIT. I feel such deep gratitude for the opportunities that scholarship provided me.”
This story was originally published in December 2019.