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Two U. of I. MBA students earn global leadership award

April 27, 2009

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Two former U.S. Army officers studying in the University of Illinois MBA program have won an international leadership award for organizing a first-of-its-kind career fair that connected military veterans with prospective employers.

Christopher Petersen and David Chonowski received the 2009 student leadership award from the Graduate Business Forum, a global organization established in 1983 to cultivate student leaders from the world's top business schools.

Petersen and Chonowski, founders and co-presidents of the Illinois MBA Veterans Association, were honored for leading last fall's Mid-Western MBA Veterans Career Conference, which connected job recruiters and veterans who are studying at 10 Midwest colleges with MBA programs ranked in the top tier nationally.

The pair organized the job fair in six weeks after learning that nearly half of the U. of I. MBA program's corporate partners had cancelled or postponed campus recruiting events as a result of the economic downturn.

More than 60 students attended the conference in downtown Chicago, and 70 percent said they were contacted about career opportunities by at least one of the 10 firms that participated, according to a post-event survey.

Registration fees from students and businesses also raised $1,800 for the Wounded Warriors Project, a not-profit organization that provides support for severely injured combat veterans.

"David and Chris are exemplars and role models for global business schools on how vision, tenacity, a little creativity in approach and definite leadership can make a real difference and leave a lasting legacy to the benefit of all involved," the Graduate Business Forum said in a statement.

Petersen says another job fair for veterans is planned this fall based on the overwhelmingly positive response to last year's event from both students and businesses.

Petersen, of St. Charles, Ill., and Chonowski, of Peoria, Ill., received the award during the group's Graduate Business Conference this month at National Chengchi University in Taiwan.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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