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JSOM Student’s Crowning Achievements Include Capturing Miss Corporate America Teen Title

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Last March, Rebecca Tjahja was crowned Miss Corporate America Teen 2015, a title that translates into her traveling the country for a year as an “ambassador for young women in the business world.”

Rebecca Tjahja
Rebecca Tjahja

She fits that travel into a schedule that includes pursuing a doublƒe major in finance and information technology and systems at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, serving as president of a nonprofit that empowers underprivileged children, and interning at AT&T Inc. this summer as part of the firm’s Sales Operations team.

Tjahja also is a top 16 finalist in the 2015 Undergraduate Research Grant Competition, a 2014 Eugene McDermott Scholar, a Davidson Management Honors Program member, in the Collegium V Honors Program, in the Association for Information Systems, executive chair of the Communications Committee of Student Government and the philanthropy chair of the Pi Sigma Chapter of the Delta Zeta Sorority.

Having a full plate doesn’t faze Tjahja, who has been this busy all her life, she says. “I am proud of being able to accomplish this much by the age of 18. It’s been a crazy ride, but everything has been so fulfilling.”

As a young teen in California, Tjahja began working though her church’s goodwill program with underprivileged children who lived in motels. She was dismayed at many of the children’s adverse living conditions and decided she needed to do more than serve them breakfast once a week. At age 15, she founded her own nonprofit organization: Truly Absolute, Inc.

“I had a passion for serving young, underprivileged children who did not have access to ample educational and artistic resources,” Tjahja says. “At the time, I also was heavily involved with an organization called FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America], from which I gained my passion for business. So I decided to combine the two into something greater than myself, which is how Truly Absolute came to be.

“I am still very involved in the organization, as I currently serve as president,” she says. “I actually am more active than I was in high school. Within the three years that we’ve been active, Truly Absolute has expanded to four countries, seven cities and 11 programs. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Growing up in Cerritos, Ca., a suburb of Los Angeles, Tjahja says she was influenced most by her parents and several high school mentors. “My parents and high school mentors continually provided coal to fuel my burning ambition. They provided so many valuable resources, and most importantly, support for everything I wanted to accomplish and do.”

Although accepted at numerous universities — including Cornell University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Southern California, Babson College and California State University —– Tjahja selected UT Dallas.

“I chose UT Dallas because of the McDermott Scholarship Program and because UTD is growing so fast and has so much potential to become one of the greatest universities in the nation,” she says. “Becoming a McDermott Scholar has been one of the most rewarding achievements of my scholastic career, as it is one of the most prestigious scholars program in the nation.”

Competing for and winning Miss Corporate America Teen also was a major coup for Tjahja. The pageant is designed to provide a platform for teens to strengthen leadership skills, establish personal and professional goals, and establish friendships with other professional women.

“My reign is for a year, and I make year-round appearances at various events nationwide to spread my platform of empowering teenage girls in the business world,” she says.

After graduation, Tjahja hopes to be accepted into Harvard University’s 2+2 Program, in which students spend two years in the workforce followed by two years in Harvard’s MBA program.

“I most likely want to go into ITS consulting within those two years in the workforce, but the future afterward is still excitingly unclear,” she says.

Donna Steph Rian

Donna Steph Rian is a local freelance writer who is a frequent contributor to JSOM publications. Her credits include having served as a business reporter and retailing columnist for The Dallas Morning News, media manager and senior writer for UT Southwestern Medical Center, and a senior public relations specialist for Texas Health Resources. She wrote about JSOM's healthcare management programs in the most recent issues of Management magazine. Read more articles

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