A Kelley Kid

Claire Gregory earned her MBA in 2011, but she was a Kelley long before that.

Claire’s mother, Mary Chappell, BS’91, MBA’93, has been the Director of External Affairs at Kelley Indianapolis since 1995. Following 15 years in the insurance business, Mary decided to earn her business undergraduate degree when Claire was 5 years old (and her brother, Chris, was 8.)

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Claire Gregory, MBA'11, and her mom, Mary Chappell, BS'91, MBA'93, at Kelley commencement.

“Throughout my studies, Chris and Claire were at my side, ‘helping’ with homework and eating peanut M&Ms, my choice of snack while studying,” said Mary. Claire visited her mother at Kelley throughout grade school and high school, getting to know various professors such as then-Associate Dean Roger Schmenner.

“I was in second grade when my mom graduated with her undergraduate degree, and I remember going to her commencement ceremony and being so excited – Thinking, I want to do that too,” said Claire. “I also remember when she received an award for being a good student, and I couldn’t believe that out of all the students we’d seen when having lunch at the old campus food court, my mom received the one and only award.”

That one and only award is the prestigious J. Dwight Peterson Award for the 1991 outstanding business student.

“That was quite an honor, and both the kids and my husband Mark were at the awards breakfast to help me celebrate,” remembered Mary, who went on to earn her MBA and join the Kelley staff.

Having grown up in and around the Kelley School of Business, Claire was familiar with the program and many of the professors. After graduating from IU Bloomington with a journalism degree and working in corporate communications, Claire considered pursuing her MBA.

“Grad school was always in my plan, but adding the business acumen to my liberal arts degree seemed to provide me with a balanced education,” said Claire. “While some may think it was inevitable, I chose Kelley because I saw what it had afforded my mom and family.”

Mary was ecstatic to have her daughter nearby.

"I’m a firm believer in the power of education and knew Claire would be a great candidate for the MBA program,” said Mary. “She’s highly talented, which she’s already proved in so many ways. And to be honest, I enjoy having her so close and being able to talk about what and whom we have in common.”

That mother-daughter connection proved useful during the rigorous MBA program, which Claire completed while working full time at Rolls-Royce.

“I once had a panic attack in the parking garage, thinking there was no way I was going to finish this program, let alone do so while working a high-intensity job,” remembered Claire. “I was able to call my mom, and she could empathize and talk me through it. It was fun to have that shared experience and even shared instructors.”

Claire was able to quickly put her new MBA to use.

“I was immediately promoted from account executive to director of accounts and received a significant raise. But more importantly, I gain such credibility when others learn I have a Kelley MBA,” said Claire, now the manager of communications at Hoosier Energy. “The credibility also carries over into my own self-confidence. I am the youngest manager at my current company and one of two female managers out of 40 or so. I know I would not have this opportunity if I didn’t have a Kelley MBA."

Regardless of when they attended school, Kelley grads say the power of the Kelley degree—and its connection to familial alums—lasts far beyond the years they spent on campus.