27 Apr 2017

Ensuring That Students Can Pursue Their Dreams


Michael J. Johnston (MBA 1962)
(photo by Chris Taggart)

DONOR: Michael J. (MBA 1962) and Mary C. Johnston Fellowship

Since establishing a fellowship in 2003 with his late wife, Mary, Michael Johnston (MBA 1962) has helped 19 students finance their HBS education. If you also include the recipients of the MBA Class of 1962 Endowed Fellowship, to which Johnston has contributed over the years, the tally grows significantly.

While the retired former executive vice president of the Capital Group Companies and longtime HBS volunteer did not receive financial assistance himself to attend HBS, he knows firsthand how it can change lives. After graduating from the School and serving in the US Army, Johnston was accepted in a doctoral program in the humanities at Harvard but because he would not be granted a fellowship until his second year, he couldn’t afford to attend. “I thought, money should never be the barrier to people achieving their dreams.”

Johnston believes that fellowships provide emotional as well as financial support. “Students are being aided by someone who has faith in them and that knowledge encourages them to work hard, stretch themselves, and want to do something important with their lives,” he contends. When responding to students who have sent him thank-you notes, Johnston conveys his hope that someday they will be in a position to help someone else.

“It’s wonderful to see students like Jennifer (see Jennifer Kelm Sergio profile) who actually do that. I think it’s a very good turn of the wheel.”

Jennifer Kelm Sergio (MBA 2010)
(photo by Tori Soper)

DONOR: Jennifer D. Kelm (MBA 2010) Fellowship

FORMER RECIPIENT: Michael J. (MBA 1962) and Mary C. Johnston Fellowship

Jennifer Kelm Sergio (MBA 2010) remembers applying to HBS and being concerned about both the financial burden of tuition and forgoing income for two years. “Finding out that the School had such a strong fellowship program was a game-changer for me,” says Sergio. “That was critical in my decision to pursue an MBA at HBS.”

The former engineering major from Chicago left her operations job at GE to attend HBS. Sergio explains that the Michael J. and Mary C. Johnston Fellowship she received “gave me more flexibility and freedom in the first several years post-HBS to make some riskier decisions.” After graduation and a year working at Boston Consulting Group, Sergio pursued her entrepreneurial interests as COO of a fitness-related startup. She later joined Amsted Industries, a specialized metal components manufacturer in Chicago, where she is the company’s new-business sales manager.

In gratitude for the generosity extended to her, Sergio established a fellowship on the occasion of her 5th Reunion to help the next generation of HBS students. “I benefited so much from receiving a fellowship, and I am happy to give back,” she explains. “It was a nice surprise to me to learn that, as a younger alumna, I could create a named fellowship fund with a lower minimum gift and use my company match to help fulfill my pledge,” she adds.

“My hope is that the fellowship will give students in the same position I was in the extra financial help they need to have an enriching experience at HBS.”

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1962, Section A
Class of MBA 2010, Section B

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