New York-based technology entrepreneur Cosmin Panait has established a scholarship for the Master of Management Studies program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
In a selfless act of generosity and goodwill, New York-based investment manager and technology entrepreneur Cosmin Panait has established a new scholarship for international students at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina, in association with his wife, Lilian Yang.
Both Panait and Yang are 2011 graduates from the Fuqua School’s Master of Management Studies (MMS) program, and, after recent success in the business world, they wanted to give something back to their alma mater.
Panait and Yang met at Fuqua, and both are proud members of the school’s alumni community, supporting the school over the past several years as contributors to the Thomas F. Keller Leadership Donor Society. Additionally, Yang recently served on the school’s Alumni Council. With their gift of $350,000, a restricted endowed scholarship has been established that will benefit international MMS students. Fuqua has also named a team room after the couple in honor of their donation to the school.
“We know the value of the MMS program and what you can achieve through it because we’re living it,” states Cosmin. “Through this scholarship, we want to help provide that same opportunity to international students.”
“As we’re both international students [Panait is from Romania, while Yang hails from China], we understand the job market can be tough, and coming to America is a big leap,” explains Lilian. “We’re hoping to give students the chance to feel less of a financial burden and allow them to rest easier throughout studying and finding a job – to know that they’re supported by individuals other than their families.”
During their time at Fuqua, Panait and Yang were supported by the MMS community in myriad ways. Panait notes that “People sometimes ask whether the one-year MMS program is ‘enough’ time, as in, ‘Is it enough time to build friendships, school spirit, memories and to bond with people?’ The answer is yes. Our experience was one of the best years of our academic lives. Everyone was so tight-knit. It’s something you don’t see anywhere else.”
Both Panait and Yang love to talk to prospective students about the MMS program, and they agree that it can be difficult to fully convey the program experience and mindset through a website or a pamphlet. “It’s different from the [typical] MBA experience,” says Lilian. “Many of my classmates came straight out of undergrad, and taking that passion and ambition – even just for a year – and bringing it together in one place creates a beautiful outcome.”
For Panait, Fuqua was a graduate-level institution, as he came to the school with an undergraduate degree in economics from Emory University, along with experience at investment banks MD Global Partners. Yang is a former vice president of Citigroup who now oversees the Cosmin Panait and Lilian Yang Foundation, along with taking care of the couple’s daughter.
Compared with much of Fuqua’s other curricula, the MMS program is relatively new; its first class was in 2010. “We were only the second class to graduate,” observes Lilian. “We’re young, but MMS students and alumni have so much yet to give, as they’re still progressing through their careers and getting to where they want to be. Once they’re there, they’ll have that chance to reflect on the impact Fuqua has had on their lives and will be able to give back just like we’re doing now.”
Cosmin agrees. “It’s about the journey,” he elaborates. “Fuqua is so much more than just a prestigious school you can say you attended. It’s the people you get to know, the relationships you get to build, and knowing that when you leave the program, you have this awesome, irreplaceable connection with others from your class.”
On behalf of the school, the administration has been delighted by the couple’s generosity. “The continued success of the MMS program is fueled by the incredible support and engagement we see from alumni like Cosmin and Lilian,” declares Fuqua’s Dean Bill Boulding. “The school is strengthened by the diverse perspectives international students bring to the Fuqua community, and this amazing commitment allows Fuqua to remain competitive as a top destination for global talent.”