Alumni board members at Goizueta's Alumni Mentor Program annual breakfast
Alumni Board Members at the annual breakfast on Feb. 2 (L to R) Lindsay Topping, Angelique Stewart 18EMBA, Paul Towne 07EvMBA, Carrie Schonberg 97C 03MBA, Ari Rollnick 97C 01MBA, and Ashley Freeman 08C 18EvMBA (guest speaker)

Each year, from October through April, Goizueta Business School students have the opportunity to meet regularly with an alumni mentor. Topics of conversation start off with getting to know one another before potentially navigating a career pivot or going to school while working full-time.

“Guidance from a Goizueta alumni is unlike advice from anyone else,” says Ethan Norwood 25EvMBA of his experience this year. “There are shared experiences of having balanced the same work and school challenges. These alumni have sat in the same lectures and classrooms and interacted with the same professors. It means you have an inherent connection that you don’t find elsewhere.

Ashley Freeman 08C 18EvMBA speaking at the annual breakfast

This year, the Goizueta Student-Alumni Mentor Program had almost 300 pairs from every program in the school. In February, the alumni and students came together—sometimes for the first time in person—for the program’s annual breakfast. The event featured alumna Ashley Freeman 08C 18EvMBA as the guest speaker.  

“There is no better way to see the power of the alumni network than through the Student-Alumni Mentor Program,” says Lindsay Topping, Goizueta’s senior managing director of alumni engagement. “Many of the mentor relationships turn into lifelong connections. It’s so rewarding to see former students giving back in this manner.”

Hitting the Jackpot

Norwood jokes that he won the “jackpot” by getting Trey Winter 20EMBA as his mentor. Winter is a director of business development at AT&T Business and the co-chair of the Student-Alumni Mentor Program. This academic year was Winter’s first as co-chair but second serving on the committee and as an alumni mentor. The other chair of this year’s program was Paul Towne 07EvMBA.

Ethan Norwood 25EvMBA

“Emory University afforded me with an opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds and develop my leadership acumen. On top of that, it’s where I met some of my closest friends. I chose to give back and prioritize Emory, even when time is finite. It’s all because I believe in the faculty, the students, and Emory’s mission to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity,” says Winter.

Winter’s mentoring experiences are also opportunities to reflect on his own journey and the people who served as sounding boards for his decisions. Serving as a mentor to Norwood—and other students—has been a chance to pay that experience forward.

Guidance Through Career Pivots

Norwood learned of the mentor program before he even began classes at Goizueta. Soon after being accepted to the business school, a student ambassador (Andrew Thompson 23EvMBA) reached out to him. Thompson shared how helpful the mentor program had been to his career pivot. As it happens, Norwood was considering a similar pivot after seven years in management consulting.

Trey Winter 20EMBA

Winter was then able to connect Norwood with an executive in healthcare, which Norwood says was immensely valuable.

“One of the things I learned early in my career is the importance of having your personal ‘board of directors’ who advise you and provide feedback on how you’re handling each step of your career,” says Norwood. “I was at a critical point in my career when I signed up for the alumni mentor program. So, the insights and advice offered through my mentor relationship were invaluable.”

Paul Towne speaking at the program’s annual breakfast

Norwood says it has been invaluable to have conversations with someone who has been through similar experiences. He adds that it is rare to find someone willing to share their insight into how he navigates his own personal and professional challenges.

“Alumni advice comes from a place of experience and genuine investment in your success. It’s more than just mentorship: It’s about inheriting the legacy of excellence that Goizueta is known for,” says Norwood.

The Miami Connection

One of the first things Claudia Zanjanchian 26EvMBA learned about her mentor Ari Rollnick 97C 01MBA, CEO and founder of kabookaboo Marketing and CEO and partner of Affinity Creative Group, was that they were both from Miami. This similarity forged their connection.

Claudia Zanjanchian 26EvMBA

“Ari is an amazing resource,” says Zanjanchian. “He’s connected me with some smart and amazing people who have grown my network. I’ve learned more about different pathways in business and talked through my goals. He’s also encouraged me to make the most out of my Goizueta experience.”

Zanjanchian is the assistant director of residential education and services at Emory’s Oxford College. She shares that she’s forever grateful for the people who supported and guided her during college. She is a first-generation college student, an experience she morphed into a career helping students navigate their own journeys. Getting her MBA is the next step, says Zanjanchian. She believes the knowledge she gains from the degree will help her blend her passion for social impact with business. She applied to the alumni mentor program hoping for guidance in this new-to-her world.

Ari Rollnick 97C 01MBA

“Ari encouraged me to lean into the intangible things I’m gaining from the program and maximize those opportunities,” says Zanjanchian.

In addition to saying “yes” to things she might normally shy away from, Zanjanchian has also learned from Rollnick not to discount her non-linear path into business. Figuring out the end goal and how to get there requires a lot of reflection and confidence, and Zanjanchian is grateful for Rollnick’s support. Only someone who’s graduated from Goizueta can understand the best way to leverage the weight of the school’s name and network, says Zanjanchian.

“This experience has been one of the best parts of Goizueta for me so far.”

Building Bonds and Broadening Perspectives

Rollnick feels a responsibility to serve as a mentor as a way to give back. Beyond sitting on the Goizueta Alumni Board and the program’s mentor committee, he’s been mentoring others in different capacities for more than a decade. However, he says that sometimes you get lucky and form a genuine friendship, and he’s been lucky in this experience with Zanjanchian.

“She has shared her perspective on life and work openly and genuinely with me. It helps me understand more about the people and world around me. This type of open communication helps make me a better person,” says Rollnick.

Ari Rollnick 97C 01MBA engaging with students at the program’s annual breakfast

He’s also enjoyed broadening Zanjanchian’s perspectives on life. He learned this particular skill through his own business and personal experiences.

“I’ve been able to suggest different ways she can look at events in her life or how she may approach situations. To then have her implement them with success was incredibly rewarding,” says Rollnick.

The annual mentor program runs through the academic year and will start recruiting in late summer. Are you interested in becoming a student mentee or alumni mentor? Contact the Goizueta Business School Alumni Office at

Check out more images from the Goizueta Student-Alumni Mentor Program annual breakfast below: