Promoting Diversity in Education and Business

The Saint Mary’s Executive MBA program gave Song Woo the confidence and tools to launch his own staffing company, Lighthouse Management Group, just months after completing his degree in 2005. Four years later, Woo’s business earned honors from the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as the area’s fastest growing private company. It has since spawned a second company, LMG HealthCare.

“The MBA program was the springboard,” said Woo, who considers his relationships with professors and students in his cohort among the program’s biggest benefits.

Positive relationships also underlie Woo’s renewed involvement with the College. Impressed by the vision Dean Zhan Li presented for the School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA), Woo joined its advisory board in 2011. Soon after, he became a member of SMC’s Board of Regents.

In addition, Woo endowed the Lighthouse Scholarship for Diversity—one of the first of its kind for SEBA students—to encourage Asian Americans to pursue graduate business degrees at SMC.

“Dr. Li wanted to increase diversity, which has always been a passion of mine. Being able to bring more attention to diversity as a positive not just in education, but also in the business world, is important to me. It’s part of what I preach and promote in my everyday life and business,” said Woo, who describes the staff of his office as “looking like the United Nations.”

Woo’s early experiences influenced his commitment to diversity. When he and his family first arrived in the United States, they lived in a trailer on a Salinas carnation farm with no other Koreans nearby. Woo recalls, “I didn’t see anyone like myself and felt somewhat like an outsider because of the lack of diversity. I always thought if I could help change that, I wanted to do it.”

But Woo considers funding a scholarship only one way of giving back. His company provides internships for SMC undergraduates, and he shares his expertise with students, including members of the Asian Pacific American Student Association. Though too modest to call himself a role model, Woo said, “If my experience helps motivate or inspire someone else, I’m happy to be considered one.”

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