On the day of her college graduation, 2003 Most Valuable Student scholar Hilary Corna had earned a double major in international business and Asian Pacific Studies, a Japanese minor, and multiple job opportunities. So what did she do? Corna packed up her belongings, bought a one-way ticket to Singapore, and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.
As a child growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Corna was always fascinated with Asian culture. Her mother lived in Japan when she was a child, which sparked Corna’s interest in broadening her own horizons. Thanks to her Most Valuable Student scholarship, sponsored by Columbus North, Ohio, Lodge No. 2700, Corna had the opportunity to attend Elon University, where her journey began.
“I grew up in a single parent household of five children,” says Corna. “Thanks to my Elks National Foundation scholarship, not only was I able to attend college, but I was also able to study abroad in Japan during my junior year.”
When Corna arrived in Singapore, she gave herself two months to find a job. Instead of touring the country, she spent her days researching positions. Her dedication paid off. With three weeks to spare, Corna received five job offers. She accepted a position with Toyota, and the next day, booked a flight to Bangkok and began exploring.
Corna worked for three years to improve Toyota’s operations and customer relations throughout Asia. During this time, she managed a team of 10 staff members, so had to quickly overcome language and cultural barriers.
After her time at Toyota, Corna moved back to the U.S., but did not leave her global perspective behind. Her experiences inspired her to write a book, which will be published in 2011. Her book shares both the challenges and the beauty of living and working in a completely different culture.
Corna now spends her time sharing her story on college campuses throughout the U.S. She teaches young professionals the importance of being adaptable, thinking long term, and understanding where others come from to build mutual relationships. She is even being featured in a business textbook! Watch Corna share a special message for Elks scholars.
“The Elks contributed to my drive to give back,” she explains. “I strive to use the experiences I’ve gained in college and beyond to help others.”
With her experiences, we know Corna is leading many young professionals down the path to success!
Hilary is now running her blog and website where you can sign up for her newsletter for young professionals that have worked overseas to connect, share and collaborate their experiences to expand the understanding of international business. If any Elk Scholars have had such experiences, she invites them to contact her.
In 2010-11, the Elks National Foundation allocated $2.296 million to fund the Most Valuable Student Scholarships. For more information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, including eligibility and deadlines, please visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.