Michelle Bourassa, MS '08

in Management
I'm just trying to pay back a little of what AUNE has done for me.

Michelle Bourassa's history with AUNE spans nearly two decades. At various times in the past, she's been a staff member, a student and an adjunct faculty member. Today, she's an active alumna who generously donates her time and talents to staff and students alike.

Michelle created AUNE's LinkedIn group, serves as an ambassador with the Admissions Office, assists the Office of Alumni Relations, and regularly speaks to Green MBA students about successful career exploration.

Concurrent with her graduation, Michelle, a professional life coach, founded What's Next Professional Coaching, a business that grew out of her practicum. Via phone sessions, she helps people from all walks of life and geographic locations make positive changes in their careers or personal lives.

Working to Build a Future
Michelle's long relationship with AUNE began in 1993, when she accepted the position of administrative assistant in AUNE's business office. In time, she worked her way up to various positions, and eventually was named interim director of financial aid all while taking evening classes to complete her undergraduate degree at Franklin Pierce University. In 2001, she left AUNE to work for the Internal Audit department at NGM Insurance Company in Keene. A single parent of two young children, she continued to take classes at Franklin Pierce University, graduating in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in management.

Michelle wanted to become a professional life coach but had put her dream on the back burner. Fortunately, she kept in close touch with Laura Andrews, director of admissions at AUNE.

After I left AUNE, Laura and I met every Tuesday for lunch, she said. She never let me forget that the AUNE learning community was an excellent choice for my master's program. After five years of weekly lunches, I finally submitted my application for admission.

Fulfilling a Dream
As an AUNE employee, Michelle had been captivated by the Organization and Management master's program, frequently browsing the titles of the course books in the campus bookstore. She wanted to learn about group dynamics, alliances and leadership. Once accepted as a student in the program, she discovered that it surpassed her expectations.

AUNE was great, a time of tremendous learning and growth for me, she said. I received a lot of support from the faculty, particularly Polly Chandler. They were so generous with their knowledge and experience, and even made referrals to outside experts. That's what really made the program for me, because the faculty members are practicing professionals.

I work with people in transition. It's all about helping people find out what their next step is, and how to achieve it.

During her practicum, Michelle explored the professional coaching world, joined the International Coach Federation, created a website and business cards, and launched her business in April 2008a month before her AUNE graduation.

Giving Back to AUNE
Today, Michelle continues to work in the insurance industry while expanding her coaching business. She and her husband, Ed, live in Keene, where she serves on the leadership board and chairs the governance committee of the nonprofit Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention. Along with that, she advocates for AUNE every chance she gets.

As an admissions ambassador, she travels frequently to share her AUNE experience with prospective students, including at the two-day 2009 Green Festival in Washington, DC. Additionally, she regularly shares her professional expertise with Green MBA practicum students, addressing them about the art of the informational interview and career exploration, a ten-step process to identify professional opportunities.

Despite her busy schedule, she intends to remain a most active alumna.

AUNE is a place that made such a difference to me both as a student and professional, she said. I want to let as many people as possible know about it, to share my experience. I'll be there as long as they'll have me.