Dina McAfee
 

Dina McAfee

Current Employer: BNY Mellon
Title: Vice President 
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Undergraduate School: Boston University

I look at things a lot differently now. I try to take a step back and to take a much more professional, analytical, and managerial approach to things. I’m really proud of how much I’ve evolved through this program.

What was your first impression of Cornell?

I was really nervous when I first arrived—it felt like I was back in high school again. I found myself worrying if people were going to like me and if I was going to do well. It is like all of the insecurities you thought you had gotten over come right back. But, the Cornell campus is beautiful and being able to walk around and to go hiking in the area helped me to feel more connected and acquainted with the area.

What surprised you most about the program?

The level of commitment, from both students and faculty, has really surprised and impressed me. I’m continually inspired by my teammates and their enthusiasm, dedication, and motivation. We all make a genuine effort to get to know one another, work together, and collaborate; it really is a great community.

The faculty is amazing. Any time we’ve had any suggestions or questions, they are there and take what we say very seriously—they are so invested in what we do. This year, we created a mentor-mentee program that we had proposed to the faculty. It was really well received; the faculty were so happy we recommended it and we were so happy they let us do it.

What has been your most memorable experience?

The first Monday of the program was very memorable for me. They took us to an outdoor course, so everyone was out of their element and it was a team-building and trust-building experience. Going into the day you don’t know what to expect, but by the end of the day, you are so much more connected to your group and to everyone else. I just thought it was such an innovative and impressive way to break the ice and to start the program.

What is one thing you have learned about yourself?

I’ve been in the same industry, and job, for a very long time, and have become so focused on what I’m doing. So, when I decided to do this program, one of the thoughts that came to my head was: I’m going to be taking stats and accounting and operations. I’m going to be doing all of these things that I may have never done or heard of before. Then, there were the questions of, how am I going to do it? Can I do it? And, how am I going to manage my time?

I’ve surprised myself in a really good way, as I’ve been able to find a balance between work, school, and home life. It may not by perfect, but you figure it out and you make it work. Now, I find myself trying to exceed my own expectations—challenging myself to keep doing better. I’ve been really surprised at just how far I’ve gotten and how my thinking and approach to things have changed greatly. It is a difference I notice, my co-workers notice, and my husband notices. I look at things a lot differently now. I try to take a step back and to take a much more professional, analytical, and managerial approach to things. I’m really proud of how much I’ve evolved through this program.

What makes your program unique?

I think the fact that it is a New York Metro program hosted by a university that is located in Upstate New York is unique. Unlike other programs that typically have a Friday/Saturday format and are located in the city, this program really tries to take you away from your everyday world as much as possible, which enables you to focus on your education in a way that you couldn’t under any other circumstances. This program really delivers on the message” when you come here, you are here” by removing the distractions and putting you in a unique and safe environment. The network here, especially the alumni, are amazing and very accessible.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in the program?

Just do it. You could always come up with one-thousand and one reasons why it is not the right time, and 22 months seems like a long time in the beginning. So, it is definitely overwhelming in the beginning, but then you start and you realize 22 months goes by fast, and that when it is done, you are going to miss it. You end up such a different person from when you started—the self-growth is incredible. So, my best advice is: do it.