In a gesture of significant impact, Lilian Yang and Cosmin Panait have established the Cosmin Panait and Lilian Yang MMS Scholarship. Aiming to support international students in particular, the two graduates of Fuqua’s Master of Management Studies (MMS) Class of 2011 hope to attract the best and brightest from around the world.
“As we are both international students, we understand the job market can be tough, and coming to America is a big leap. We are hoping to give students the chance to feel less financial burden and allow them to rest easier throughout studying and finding a job—to know that they are supported by individuals other than their families,” Lilian said.
“We know the value of the MMS program and what you can achieve through it because we are living it. Through this scholarship, we want to help provide that opportunity to international students,” Cosmin agreed.
Driven by the transformative experience Fuqua had in their own lives, Cosmin and Lilian are grateful for this opportunity to help others choose Fuqua. Not only did they meet at Fuqua, but Cosmin got into his current business through a Fuqua graduate. “It’s been an incredible network, and I stay in close touch with many Fuqua alumni,” said Cosmin. He stays busy as the co-founder and managing partner of GPL Ventures while Lilian, formerly a VP at Citigroup, now oversees the new Cosmin Panait and Lilian Yang Foundation and focuses on their daughter, Olivia. Lilian also recently served on Fuqua’s Alumni Council.
For the past several years, both have supported the Fuqua Annual Fund as members of the Thomas F. Keller Leadership Donor Society. Now, their gift of $300,000 has established a restricted endowed scholarship to benefit international MMS students. A team room at Fuqua has also been named after them to honor their additional gift of $50,000 and celebrate their student experience.
“The continued success of the MMS program is fueled by the incredible support and engagement we see from alumni like Cosmin and Lilian,” said Dean Bill Boulding. “The school is strengthened by the diverse perspectives international students bring to the Fuqua community, and this amazing commitment allows Fuqua to remain competitive as a top destination for global talent.”
Throughout their student experiences, the MMS community surrounded Lilian and Cosmin with support in incredible ways. People sometimes ask whether the one-year MMS program is “enough” time, as in, “Is it enough time to build friendships, school spirit, memories, or to bond with people? The answer is yes. Our experience was one of the best years of our academic lives. Everyone was so tight-knit. It’s something you don’t see anywhere else,” Cosmin said.
It can be hard to convey that incredible experience and mindset on a website or in a pamphlet, which is why Cosmin and Lilian also love talking to prospective students about the MMS program.
“It’s different from the MBA experience,” Lilian said. “Many of my classmates came straight out of undergrad, and taking that passion and ambition—even just for a year—and bringing it together in one place creates a beautiful outcome.”
Compared to Fuqua’s other programs, the MMS curriculum is relatively new to the scene—its inaugural class graduated in 2010. Cosmin and Lilian are proud to boost MMS representation in the alumni community. “We were only the second class to graduate,” Lilian said. “We’re young, but MMS students and alumni have so much yet to give, as they’re still progressing through their careers and getting to where they want to be. Once they’re there, they’ll have that chance to reflect on the impact Fuqua has had on their lives and will be able to give back just like we are now,” Lilian said.
“It’s about the journey. Fuqua is so much more than just a prestigious school that you can say you attended. It is the people you get to know, the relationships you get to build, and knowing that when you leave the program you have this awesome, irreplaceable connection with others from your class,” said Cosmin.
“For us, Team Fuqua is family. It’s so valuable and so precious,” Lilian agreed. “So, when we talk about meaningful contribution, it’s the other way around. The honor is ours.”