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Pictured is DaMarra Underwood, M.B.A. student and recipient of the Chuck Cooper Foundation scholarship winner. | Photo by Victoria A. Mikula

Meet DaMarra Underwood

Degree pursuing: M.B.A. with a concentration in Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management
Expected graduation: December 2016
Grad school activities: Chuck Cooper Leadership Development Program
Degrees earned: Bachelor of Music in Music Education, Howard University, 2014
Scholarships from Point Park: Graduate Merit Scholarship
Hometown and current residence: Pittsburgh, Pa.
High school: Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School
Hobbies/interests: Singing, writing, traveling, bowling, coordinating church events, mentoring youth and enjoying time with friends and family

The Chuck Cooper Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to continue the legacy of Charles "Chuck" Cooper, the first African-American drafted into the National Basketball Association, by awarding graduate-level scholarships and by providing comprehensive leadership development, professional skills and opportunities to under-served students. Mitchel Nikols, Ph.D., Point Park University part-time professor, is a consultant and leadership program developer with the Foundation.

"I have learned so much in the time I have attended this university and I am looking forward to continuing to grow and learn from the faculty at Point Park."

-- DaMarra Underwood

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What was your reaction to being named a Chuck Cooper Foundation scholarship winner?

I was shocked, but so grateful! The organization informed me that I was the first winner and student to apply from Point Park University for such a prestigious award. Not only was I excited about being awarded the money, but I also was excited to be paving the way for other Point Park graduate students to be a part of this empowering and rewarding experience.

When I first applied for the scholarship, I did it with the intention of solely getting money for school. However, during my interview with the organization, I realized this was way more than a scholarship. It was an opportunity for me to grow as a leader and build a professional network that will assist me in succeeding in my endeavors. The Chuck Cooper Foundation strongly believes in its scholars, encouraging them to be change agents in the community and workplace, while also opening doors for their professional endeavors.

What factors made you choose Point Park's M.B.A. program?

I chose Point Park's M.B.A program because it offered a sports, arts and entertainment management concentration and I could take classes in the evening. I work full time in the Propel School District so taking classes in the evening is crucial. Also, I only have class twice a week so this allows me to have a balance with my schedule.

The sports, arts, and entertainment management concentration was enticing to me because I have been very involved in the gospel music industry as a singer. Not only will this degree equip me with more knowledge in the entertainment field, but it also will assist me in gaining knowledge about being an effective entrepreneur and executive. I have learned so much in the time I have attended this university and I am looking forward to continuing to grow and learn from the faculty at Point Park.

What have been your favorite M.B.A. classes so far and why?

My favorite M.B.A class so far would have to be Managerial Economics. In this class, we explored the psychology of business and what truly motivates people to purchase items or make certain decisions in the government that cause inflation or an imbalance in the economy. The majority of the time we worked in groups and looked at different case studies. I was able to listen to my colleagues' opinions while also being exposed to different issues that are happening around the world. Even though I enjoyed this class, I must say that I am extremely eager to start my sports, arts, and entertainment management courses this summer!

What are your career goals?

My career goals are to be a renowned international gospel singer and music executive. With that platform, I would like to own a youth center and focus on empowering the community. Through programming, I can provide opportunities to young people and also use my gift of song to uplift and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you have a favorite quote?

The quote that keeps me going each and every day is actually a scripture from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I realize that without God I am absolutely NOTHING.

I would like to thank my parents Howard and Gloria Underwood for always pushing me to strive for greatness and follow my dreams. In addition, I would also like to thank my wonderful fiancé for always believing in me, even at times when I didn't believe in myself. Last but not least, I would like to sincerely thank the Chuck Cooper Foundation for the opportunity to grow as a leader and for their assistance with my education and professional endeavors. Thank you!

Photo by Victoria A. Mikula, junior mass communication major


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