A Conversation with Minerva Graduate Student Marina

Sep 16, 2020

This is part of a series of profiles introducing Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis (MDA) students from the Class of 2023. If you would like to learn more about the MDA program, please visit minerva.edu/graduate-programs.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Marina Nishizawa obtained her undergraduate degree in literature and philosophy. Currently, she works at Google as a Business Development Consultant and is set to begin Minerva’s MDA program in the fall.

A couple of years ago, Marina had an eye-opening experience with the Japanese pharmacy industry, when she was diagnosed with a disease and required extensive medical support. While she is healthy now, at that time she went through the feelings of anger and despair many patients go through when fighting an illness. Prior to this experience, she was not aware of how important the pharmacy industry and pharmacists were in Japan, thinking that they only served to dispense prescribed medications.

From her medical journey, she quickly learned about the extent of support pharmacists offer to people in Japan; whereas doctors provide care when a patient checks into a hospital, pharmacists can provide medical support in the communities where people live. This allows patients to continue their days as normally as possible and preserve their social lives — a factor she considers particularly important for the country’s aging population. This realization inspired and motivated Marina to dedicate her work towards supporting an industry that plays such an important role in society.

“I have actually been working to develop a business in the pharmacy industry from scratch since I was diagnosed with the disease. [Now], I would like to organize my experience so that I can make the business more scalable and sustainable. So I have decided to go back to study and work to develop a scalable model which works.”

Marina first heard about Minerva from her previous company, which partnered with Minerva Project for an executive leadership class. While Marina was not part of that group, another member of her team took the course and told her about the innovative pedagogy and Forum, Minerva’s active learning platform.

“I believe the most different aspect of Minerva is the fact that it focuses on execution, where other universities only focus on thinking. I’m interested in execution because it is the most important thing for startups and new businesses because the environment changes every day. So we have to make our decisions day by day quickly based on complex information. I would like to not only learn how to think, but [framed in] the way of execution.”

One of Marina’s biggest passions is to encourage and support vulnerable members of society, as she herself has been in that position. And her support for the pharmacy industry is only part of that mission. Her dream is to help alleviate the burdens of people suffering from social mobility, not just patients, but the general population as well.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting my peers [in the program] because the culture of the school was a big factor in my choice of program. When I first started to research Minerva, I saw many posts on social media made by current students which made it clear that everyone — students, teachers, and staff — contributes to the development of the school. I like this culture where everyone is important, and I’m excited to be part of it.”