Alicia-Ann Caesar, an MBA student, was recognized with the 2019 Promise Prize award during a ceremony May 8 at Montclair State. The $5,000 Promise Prize is awarded annually at Montclair State to a black entrepreneurship or business student with the following traits: academic excellence (high GPA), leadership, scholarship, initiative, service and entrepreneurship. Montclair State is one of fewer than a dozen colleges/universities in the U.S. with the award. The foundation, and Promise Prize award, was created by Vikki Pryor, founder of the Change Create Transform Foundation, to honor her grandmother Marie Nesbitt, who was a great-granddaughter of slaves and held jobs ranging from domestic worker to welder.
Caesar received the award May 8 during the BulbHead Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs contest. The 2018 winner, Olivia Hettman, presented the prize to Caesar and spoke about what the opportunity of receiving the prize last year meant to her.
When Caesar was asked what the prize meant, she stated, “I am extremely grateful to have been selected this year’s Promise Prize Scholar. Once I found out the criteria for the nomination I became overwhelmed at just the idea that one of my professors would nominate me. I plan to fully engage with the Change Create Transform Foundation, the Montclair State faculty committee, especially Professor Taylor the program’s new academic advisor, and the previous winners in the area. I am inspired to work harder for myself to get to a place to support others. Marie Nesbitt’s story and legacy is an inspiration. The opportunity to learn from her granddaughter, the Foundation’s founder Ms. Vikki Pryor, and be mentored by outstanding community members is exciting and not an opportunity I plan to waste. I am honored.”
Caesar is an MBA student with a Master’s in Public Administration, Nonprofit Management from Kean University, and a Bachelor’s of Art in History from The College of New Jersey. When asked why she is pursuing an MBA, Alicia-Ann quickly answered, “Because it’s time for me to be a CEO.” That gives a glimpse of the drive, passion and enthusiasm of Caesar. Besides the cash, the students selected for the prestigious award become part of a network established by the prize’s sponsor, the Change Create Transform Foundation.
Caesar is also the Director of Quality Improvement, Risk Management and Training at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey. She also has a strong interest in women empowerment, and is very active with community service. Alicia-Ann is from Liberia, and is mulling starting a business someday to sell Liberian spices/sauces. She calls herself a “secret farmer” because of the volunteer work she does with community gardening.
Past winners of the Promise Prize are:
- 2014: Alanda Alexandre, who has two degrees from Montclair State, a Business Administration degree with concentrations in Finance and Management, and an MBA degree.
- 2015 winner: Dana LaCondre-Nugent who has a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Accounting from Montclair State.
- 2016 winner: Stanley Fils, who majored in Justice Studies at Montclair State and then obtained an MBA degree from the university
- 2017 winner: Kishawn Jean-Pierre, graduated as an accounting major.
- 2018 winner: Olivia Hettman, who is graduating this May and obtaining her MBA in the fall.
The 2019 selection committee included staff from the Feliciano School of Business: Agatha Jeffers, Accounting professor; Devon Johnson, Marketing professor; Mariah Mayers, assistant director of Career Services; Hermann Sintim-Aboagye, Finance Professor; Faith Taylor, Marketing professor; and Sharon Waters, interim director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship.