2024 Tillman Scholar

Maressa Guynn

Carnegie Mellon University

“With a vision rooted in resilience, I aim to transform business into a vehicle for social change, advocating for equitable opportunities for America’s diverse talent.”

Maressa’s voyage to the US Naval Academy, initially fueled by a thirst for adventure, scholarly growth, and athletic prowess, became a powerful awakening. She discovered her calling as a vital voice in environments where her achievements defied expectations. 

As a Naval Flight Officer and recruiting officer in the US Navy, Maressa encountered firsthand the hurdles black students faced, mirroring her challenges. This experience sharpened her resolve for inclusivity, igniting a fervent desire to uplift these students, becoming a guiding light and champion for their triumphs. Her mission became clear: to shatter the daunting obstacles blocking the path of America’s Black youth. 

Her commitment led her to the hallowed halls of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. Prestigious fellowships like Consortium, Management Leaders for Tomorrow, and Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) broadened her worldview on diversity in professional realms, equipping her with the tools needed to drive meaningful change. 

These interactions with a kaleidoscope of leaders and cutting-edge leadership philosophies armed her for the battles ahead. Embracing the philosophy that "a rising tide lifts all boats," Maressa’s dedication to lifting individuals from underrepresented communities is unwavering. Her journey is more than a career path; it’s a passionate crusade against systemic racism, a determined effort to level the playing field, ensuring everyone has a fair chance to realize their dreams. Her story is not just one of personal achievement but a vibrant, relentless pursuit of a future where diverse voices participate and lead the way.