Student Spotlight: Mario Vazquez, Full-Time MBA ’21

Mario Vasquez, MBA '21

Mario Vazquez, MBA ’21

Mario Vazquez is a first-generation college student from El Paso, Texas, or what he likes to call, “The West Texas Miracle.” His journey to Texas McCombs was one of family support and inspiration.

His parents grew up in Matamoros Tamaulipas, a border town in Northern Mexico. They moved to the United States after his dad was offered a job as an electrical engineer in El Paso.  

Mario was born three years later. His parents wanted him to have the best education possible, so they started researching schools and colleges when Mario was only a baby. His mother was especially dedicated to his future and went above and beyond for his education.

My parents, in their mid 20’s, moved to a new country with almost nothing to their name. I often think about how exciting and terrifying the move must have been. They did everything within their power to give me a chance at a better life. My mother learned of a grade school that was known for its strong academic reputation but when she inquired about enrolling me, there were only two spots left and they would be given on a first-come first-served basis at 7 a.m. the very next day. Undeterred, my mom spent the night in the parking lot of what would become my grade school. When the doors opened at 7 a.m. the next morning, she was the second parent in line and I was the last student registered.”

Young Mario with his mother

When it was time for Mario to enroll in high school, his parents weren’t familiar with the American high school to college pipeline. Mario and his parents researched together and discovered that Cathedral High School, a private, Catholic high school in El Paso, maintained a 100% college acceptance rate, but tuition was expensive for the family.

“In El Paso and Matamoros, college is more often a dream than a possibility. My mom, with the same tenacity she showed in enrolling me for kindergarten, found every single scholarship I could apply for and by the first day of school, I was an enrolled student at Cathedral High School and on my path to college.”

Mario eventually enrolled at Stanford University, graduating in 2013 with a B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society. While he was there, he joined and led an organization dedicated to providing need-based scholarships to graduating high school students attending two-year or four-year institutions.

“Being a first-generation, low-income student of Hispanic descent in higher education was the exception, not the norm. I looked for a community of individuals with backgrounds similar to my own, which I found in joining and leading an organization called Los Hermanos de Stanford. As a group, we fundraised annually to provide need-based scholarships to graduating high school students attending two-year colleges and universities. I felt that I was reciprocating the investment so many people had made in me over the years. At that point, I knew how I wanted to use my life– helping students from difficult circumstances earn access to life-changing opportunities.

Mario and his family at his college graduation in 2013.

Mario and his family at his college graduation in 2013.

After college, Mario accepted a position with Teach for America as a 1st-grade language instructor. He loved working with students and noticed how they were impacted by family circumstances or obstacles that he could not help with through teaching alone. He realized that he wanted to scale his impact beyond the classroom. He returned home to work at his alma mater,  Cathedral High School, as the Director of Admissions.

“For those three years at Cathedral, I conveyed the dream of a better life to every student and parent who walked the halls of our school. Throughout my tenure at Cathedral High School, I succeeded in increasing the number of underserved students and the dollar amount of scholarships that we could provide them. On a daily basis I had the opportunity to help change the course of a young person’s life. Working at Cathedral was an honor, the most fun I have ever had, and will forever be one of my proudest accomplishments..”

Mario’s “Why McCombs?”

Mario never imagined he would end up in business school. But while driving around El Paso, he would see a Texas McCombs MBA billboard, and it stuck in his mind.

“Truth be told, I did not think I’d get into business school. I wasn’t sure if top business schools would see the value of my experience in education. I was hard on myself, thinking that perhaps I wasn’t good enough. But my friends and colleagues encouraged me to put forth my best effort and believe in myself– and so I did. I reminded myself that I was worthy and deserving of receiving additional education. I’m blessed to be surrounded by good people, and I’m so grateful I didn’t give up.”

Mario says what sealed his decision to come to McCombs was his experience at Discover McCombs: Diversity Weekend and the opportunity to apply to McCombs through The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an alliance of top business schools and companies committed to enhancing diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership.

“When I came to Austin for Diversity Weekend, I had not applied to The Consortium, an organization that provides access to MBA admissions resources for underrepresented students. Jaden Felix, my McCombs admissions officer, took note of that and vehemently encouraged me to apply. To me, someone who has always looked for a community, it was a sign that I would be cared for here at McCombs.

Mario had seen first-hand that even a well-funded, prestigious school like Cathedral couldn’t circumvent every challenge that students face or provide enough aid for every student to attend. He hopes that business school can help him achieve his goal of launching and operating a school that houses an ecosystem of academic and non-academic support for its students and their families. 

For every student I was able to enroll at Cathedral or secure a scholarship for, there were at least a handful more that I could not because of socioeconomic reasons, lack of school resources, etc. Cathedral does a lot of good for so many students, myself included, and all kids deserve a good school with people who genuinely care about their success. I decided to pursue an MBA because I want to dedicate my life toward scaling the impact of schools located in underrepresented and underserved communities.”

Mario’s Advice to You 

“The great thing about McCombs is that the people here, from the staff to students and alumni, have reiterated one common phrase: ‘Don’t forget why you came here.’ To me, this phrase serves as a constant reminder to remember how I have benefited from the kindness and help of others, and my responsibility to do the same.”

“Don’t devalue your experiences and don’t worry about not having the perfect academic or professional profile. I like to think that Texas McCombs, more so than other schools, tries to find people who have made a real impact in whatever capacity they served and genuinely want to do good in the world.”


Stay up to date with all things McCombs by subscribing to our newsletter. Follow us on Instagram to see more about student life. If you have any questions, please reach out to MBA Admissions. Hook ’em!

Navigating Your Time on the MBA Waitlist

Texas McCombs receives many applications from highly qualified applicants throughout the year. It’s impossible to fit everyone into the limited space of our program, so we have an MBA waitlist.

The waitlist can be a challenging place for applicants, given its uncertainty and lack of a clear timeline and expectations, but we feel very strongly that it is also a wonderful opportunity, an exercise in patience, and a gift of time not given to all who apply.

waitlist webinar January 7, 2020 - register here

Virtual Info Session reserved for those on the MBA waitlist after their decision deadline.

The waitlist is not a final decision from the MBA Admissions Committee. Rather, it is a place to wait and see what unfolds. Please explore the information below to better understand what it means to be on the waitlist, and how you can make the most of this time.

When will I have a final decision?

The MBA Admissions Committee periodically reviews candidates currently on the waitlist, but we are not able to offer a concrete timeline of when you will hear your final decision. We are never able to predict the movement of the incoming class.  If you apply in Round One, this does not mean that you will receive a final decision along with Round Two applicants.  If you apply in Round Two, this does not mean that you will receive a final decision in Round Three.  We review the entire waitlist (which includes applicants from all rounds) as needed.

How many people are placed on the waitlist in a given year?

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Women’s Weekend 2019 Recap

This November, Texas McCombs welcomed 55 future MBAs to our annual Women’s Weekend.  This event  was designed for anyone committed to the empowerment of women in business. The weekend brought attendees together to meet current MBA students, alumni, McCombs faculty & staff, and to see first-hand all that Texas McCombs and Austin has to offer.

Welcome to Austin

One of the many reasons why students choose McCombs is for the vibrant business community in Austin. To that end, the weekend kicked off with a welcome reception on Friday evening, sponsored by Austin-based company Bumble Bizz, and hosted at The Riveter, a co-working space designed by women, for everyone, in the heart of downtown Austin. During the welcome reception, attendees had the opportunity to meet current students and members of Graduate Women in Business (GWiB), an MBA student organization dedicated to the personal and professional development of women.

“A woman in business, to me, looks like the women that are in my program. They are poised. They are confident. And I admire how genuine they are and how many programs and activities they are involved in, and I try to match their energy as well”

 Caroline Okocha, MBA ’20

GWiB hosts events throughout the year that focus on advocacy, difficult conversations in the workplace, gender identity, and how to be an ally. Every week, GWiB posts a new #WCW (“Woman Crush Wednesday”) post to highlight members within the community.

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Every week, we feature a woman from our community. Our #wcw this week is first year Presney Blackman! #whymccombs Hometown: Cincinnati, OH Past Work Experience: Key Account Manager for Dow Chemical Company Future Career Goals: I’d like to begin my career in Tech Marketing and eventually go into entrepreneurship McCombs Organizations and Leadership Positions: McCombs Ambassador Committee, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, MBA Tech Club, GWiB, Marketing Fellows What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you would like to share with GWIB members? Run your race. It’s easy, especially in business school, to look to what others are doing as an indication of what we should be doing. However, the gifts you have been given are different from the gifts of others. Be true to who you are and don’t live to meet the expectations of others. Do you have any book or podcast recommendations? Loving Revisionist History by Malcom Gladwell & The Real Life Podcast with Jefferson Bethke and his wife Alyssa. Who is YOUR #wcw and why? Serena Williams is my #wcw. She is a fighter! I am in awe of her strength, femininity, vulnerability and her love for her husband and child and dedication to her craft. She’s inspired this next generation of young black American tennis players and it is a privilege to be able to witness. She’s the #GOAT!

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Current MBA student, Jessica Reese-White, says that attending Women’s Weekend when she was applying in 2018 gave her insight into the culture and strengthened her decision to attend McCombs.

“A lot of programs tell you they have a very welcoming culture for women, but you want to actually see that in practice. McCombs prioritizes diverse classes and having strong representation. It’s still mostly men in the world of business and I think it’s important for me as a queer woman of color to be here and show women that they have a space here in the program, and that there are other people like them here.” 

— Jessica Reese-White, MBA ‘21

After the reception, attendees were invited to Upstairs at Caroline, a popular Austin nightspot, for a casual night out with current MBA students.

Getting to Know Texas McCombs

Day two kicked off bright and early with a welcome introduction by Assistant Dean Tina Mabley, rocking matching “Lady Boss” shirts with her daughter.   

Assistant Dean Tina Mabley and her daughter in matching "Lady Boss" shirts.

Assistant Dean Tina Mabley and her daughter show off their “Lady Boss” shirts at Women’s Weekend.

Current MBA students Claire Austin, Presney Blackman, Sophie Roane, and Vicky Wu, presented an overview of the program, followed by an insightful “Career Exploration” talk by Assistant Dean of Graduate Career Management, Janet Huang, that highlighted why McCombs Career Services ranks as one of the best in the country

Janet shared what she believes is the best way to find a balance in a successful career: Ikigai, a Japanese concept that means, “reason for being.”

Janet during her presentation

Janet Huang talks about career resources at Discover McCombs: Women’s Weekend.

Finding strong avenues for career building and advancement is a common challenge for women in business. MBA ’20, Catherine Laclede, said that while the gender distribution highly depends on your industry, top 20 business schools, including McCombs, are taking steps towards gender parity.

“I’m pursuing marketing which tends to be more women-dominated, so I don’t feel the difference as much; but for women who are considering consulting or investment banking, that difference can be more pronounced and noticeable. Having organizations and an event like this where you see other women who really want to do the same things really validates what you want to pursue.” 

— Catherine Laclede, MBA ‘20

Before lunch, attendees heard from a “Beyond the MBA” alumni panel. These women shared success stories about how Texas McCombs helped them grow professionally and personally. The attendees then broke out into mock classes with professors Marissa Epstein and Julia Coronado for a first-hand experience inside the classroom. 

A picture of The Beyond the MBA Alumni Panel at Discover McCombs: Women's Weekend by a banner that says "advancing the world together."

The “Beyond the MBA” Alumni Panel at Discover McCombs: Women’s Weekend.

At noon, everyone got a taste of Austin Tex-Mex from local favorite, Fresa’s, during a networking lunch with current MBA students. During the lunch, MBAs offered more personalized, candid insights and valuable tips for applying to McCombs. 

After lunching and learning, MBA+ Communication Coach, Amira Pollock, led a workshop on leadership presence where she talked about the secret to improv, the importance of non-verbal communication, and outlined the difference between confidence and courage.

“Confidence is how you present yourself, courage is the energy to do it. Next time you’re nervous, tell yourself that it’s okay. You’re going to do this anyway.”

– Amira Pollock, MBA Communication Coach

Real Talk: Women in Business

Before the close of the weekend, current students led a panel where they shared their experiences as women in the business world and gave insight into what being a student at McCombs is really like day-to-day.

“All the Fellows programs have female presidents — that just really speaks to the caliber of women we have at McCombs.” 

Maria-Paula Muñoz Carley, MBA ‘20.

“I believe the biggest struggle women face in business is the lack of representation at the higher level. A big way to overcome that is by getting more women into business.. And that’s why I’m here at the McCombs getting my MBA – I want to be at the top and I want to help other women succeed down the line” 

— Kathie Xiao, MBA ‘20

“You’re definitely going to need an environment where you feel supported and like it’s okay to fail and grow. Knowing that McCombs had a strong group of women that were so invested in each other’s success was really inspiring to me, and really made me feel confident about the decision I was going to make.”

Catherine Laclede, MBA ‘20

women at mccombs

Current Texas McCombs MBA students

Women’s Weekend came to an end with student hosts Kathie Xiao and Caroline Okocha’s talk: #WhyMcCombs: A Story in “Mememojis.” 🤘😁 Kathie kicked off the panel by sharing some challenges she’s faced.

“I’ve gained so much confidence in my business school experience because I’ve put myself in situations where I’m going to be uncomfortable a lot. But, you don’t grow unless you become uncomfortable and push yourself to the edge.”

— Kathie Xiao, MBA ‘20

Alongside her, Caroline shared that getting an MBA is, “a way for women to break the glass ceiling.” Both of them ended the event by sharing the following advice for prospective students:

  1. Don’t panic. Focus on your goals; you don’t have to have it all figured out.
  2. Celebrate your own accomplishments, but also those of all the amazing people around you. We’re all competitive people, but we all want to help each other. This is your community. 
  3. Have fun and make the most of these two years. Find your people, find your place.

“McCombs is a place where you can fight stereotypes. There’s genuine care in the program. We want to be there for you.”

 Caroline Okocha, MBA ’20


If you have any questions, please reach out to MBA Admissions. For more information on our community and programs, check out our websiteHook ’em!

MBA Student Life in Austin:
The City, Campus, and Culture

As an MBA student at Texas McCombs, your world-class education comes with access to the vibrant city of Austin. Ranked as the #1 place to live in the U.S., there is always something to do in the Texas capital. Our local Longhorn network extends far beyond Texas McCombs, and you will enjoy all the outside-the-classroom perks that come with being a student at The University of Texas at Austin. 

The Silicon Hills

Nicknamed “Silicon Hills,” Austin has become a hub for technology and entrepreneurship. With companies like IBM, Google, Intel, Apple, Oracle, Dell, and Samsung growing their presence in the city, Austin ranks as the no. 1 place in America to start a business and the no. 2 best city for startups. Austin is home to about 5,500 startups and tech companies, hosts an annual Austin Startup Week, and is home to one of the biggest tech business innovation showcases in the world– SXSW.

The city is also geographically small enough that the Google Offices are only a twenty-block, bike ride from campus, unlike megalopolises like New York and Los Angeles.

“The largest factors of my attendance decision were corporate partnerships, program culture, and location. The growing presence of tech companies in Austin, TX was an attractive option for full time employment, and I loved the strength of the relationship between McCombs and the city. While it was important to me to join a prestigious program, I would not have done so at the sacrifice of a cultural fit.”

— Kyle Johnson, MBA Class of 2021

The University of Texas also has strong ties with growing industries in The Texas Triangle–Houston, Austin, and Dallas. In a recent interview with Menlo Coaching, Rodrigo Malta, Managing Director of MBA Recruiting and Admissions, highlighted the advantages of the incredible location of Texas McCombs, life in Austin, MBA Fellows Programs, and job placement opportunities outside of Texas.

Thumbnail to a video produced by Menlo Coaching of an interview with Rodrigo Malta

Austin and its neighboring cities, Houston and Dallas, offer more to students now than ever before with industries like tech, real estate, and consulting booming—all headquartered in central Texas.

In the interview above,  Rodrigo highlights that Houston is famous for its energy and banking sectors– Shell, BP, and Exxon-Mobil are all headquartered or partially headquartered in Houston, making the city a hot market for energy-focused MBAs. Investment banks in Houston also have strong energy practices,  broadening the scope of careers.

Dallas is a mix of little of everything, but consulting and manufacturing are especially strong with companies like BCG, Ericsson, and Toyota calling Dallas home.

“The city itself gives our students a lab in which to put into practice what they are learning in the classroom. What really differentiates us from other business schools is the relationship that the university has with the city of Austin.”  –Rodrigo Malta, in an interview with Menlo Coaching 

What’s on Campus

Step outside Rowling Hall, and be immersed by The University of Texas campus. Head to the gym for a quick workout, a swim, a quick basketball game, climb on our rock wall or relax in the sauna. Our facilities also offer massage sessions and classes in yoga, various levels of exercise, different sports training, CPR, First Aid and Wilderness Medicine, and more. 

Students are also granted free admission to museums in Austin. The Harry Ransom Center that specializes in collecting literary and cultural artifacts like the Gutenburg Bible and the first photo ever taken–the Niépce Heliograph. Our other museums around campus include The Blanton Museum of Art, the LBJ Presidential Library, the Texas Memorial Museum, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

 

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The City’s Culture

In recent years, Austin has been noted as one of the best travel destinations with 27.4 million domestic visitors annually. During the day, outdoor enthusiasts can float along the Colorado River by paddle-board, canoe or kayak, dive into the Barton Springs Pool, or take a hike at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. At sunset, watch as hundreds of bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge. 

Austin locals swimming in lake.

Locals enjoy the springs outside of Barton Creek pool. Photo by Tomek Baginski on Unsplash.

Our “Keep Austin Weird” mantra is noted for the city’s live music, art galleries and shows, festivals of all kinds, and countless breweries. The popular South Congress Avenue, SoCo for short, is home to the famous “I love you so much” mural,  Homeslice Pizza, and many unique shops and boutiques.

“From the first time I stepped foot in Austin, I’ve been amazed by the energy and vibrancy of the city. Although all great business schools offer tons of resources, Texas McCombs’ seamless integration with the surrounding city was a huge factor in my decision. There’s nowhere else I could experience being at the nexus of equally amazing academic, technology, and entrepreneurial communities, all whilst eating some proper Texas barbecue.”   — Alice Xu, MBA Class of 2021

For a night out, visitors and residents alike head to Sixth Street or Rainey Street, two of the busiest bar districts, for their late-night drinks. Sixth Street is the main entertainment district in Austin with something different at every end with an abundant amount of bars to choose from. Rainey Street, while busy, is more relaxed. The street is lined with houses that were renovated into bars and is popular for its brunch scene on Sundays.

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Our Longhorn Community

Texas McCombs welcomes around 270 full-time MBA students a year, which is perfect for fostering a collaborative, tight-knit student environment. With over 40 different professional, social, and community-centered student organizations, there is a place for everyone.

The Texas Alumni Network is one of the largest in the world with more than 500,000 UT Alumni, 100,000 McCombs Alumni, 25,000 MBA Alumni and more than 30 Alumni Chapters. 

“I had three main reasons to choose McCombs: The collaborative culture of the school that leads to owning one of the best networks, the world class career management center that guides you through one of the best recruiting experience ever, and the new mini silicon valley of the USA – Austin. After all, MBA for me was all about building professional relations, career progression, and exposure to potential hubs of the future.”

 — Haimanti Gupta, MBA Class of 2021

We are deeply committed to developing a supportive alumni network and dedicated career staff that can tailor your experience to get you where you want to be. With more than 200 unique employers and over 1,300 on-campus interviews,  rest assured that the Texas McCombs MBA program will help you launch your dream career at every step of the way.

Master's candidates are presented with their degrees during a MBA graduation celebration at Gregory Gym on May 19, 2017. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.


Stay up to date with all things McCombs by subscribing to our newsletter.

If you have any questions, please reach out to MBA Admissions. Hook ’em!

Diversity Weekend 2019 Recap

This October, the MBA program welcomed 84 future MBA students to Austin for our annual Discover McCombs: Diversity Weekend, which focuses on increasing underrepresented populations in business school. The two-day event brought attendees together to meet current students, alumni, and McCombs faculty and staff to see first-hand all that Texas McCombs has to offer. 

McCombs pop up banner that reads "powering positive change."

Networking in the Heart of Austin

The event kicked off on Friday, October 25th at Facebook Austin for a welcome reception filled with food & drinks and networking. Partnering with Facebook was integral to delivering an authentic Austin business experience for our guests.

Kyle Johnson, MBA ’21 and a student ambassador for MBA admissions, shared his thoughts as an event co-lead at the networking reception:

I am excited to be here at Diversity Weekend. This was a pivotal event for me last year when I was deciding what school to come to. I had a great time interacting with prospective students and giving them a candid view of what life as a Longhorn is like.”

The fun didn’t stop there. After the reception, attendees received glow sticks in different colors and were invited to hang out at Upstairs at Caroline, a popular Austin nightspot, for a casual night out with current MBA students.

Getting to Know Texas McCombs

group photo of current students at diversity weekend.

Current MBA students gearing up to welcome attendees.

On Saturday, October 26th, starting in the morning, attendees gathered for breakfast and were warmly welcomed by McCombs’s Assistant Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program, Tina Mabley. Then, panels of students shared their experiences in the program and MBA Career & Talent Development Consultant, Scott Brownlee, presented our globally-recognized Career Management team and resources. An alumni panel closed out the morning with a discussion about navigating post-MBA life.

 

“I think it’s really important to have events like these because there’s a lot of stereotypes about business school,” said Kathie Xiao, MBA ’20, “Someone might look at the stats when they’re applying to business schools and feel like they don’t see themselves in those statistics. We’re really making an effort to make everyone feel included and have a good experience.” 

At noon, attendees joined a networking lunch with current MBA students. Complementing the student panel, this is where MBAs were able to offer more personalized, candid insight and valuable tips for applying to McCombs. Among the topics discussed in conversations were “class culture,” “commuting to campus,” and how the cost of living prices compare across Austin. 

After lunch, we were proud to spotlight two of our professors for Mock Class Breakouts: Professor Badolato from the Department of Accounting, and Professor Murphy from the Department of Management. These class breakouts gave applicants the opportunity to immerse themselves in student life by highlighting classes from our core curriculum, which every student takes during their first year in the program.

Alumni Panel at Diversity weekend

Texas McCombs MBA alumni panel at Diversity Weekend, 2019.

Diversity Weekend came to a close with several speakers sharing insight on why getting an MBA is a worthwhile venture. First, Executive Communication Coach, Nadina Sandlin, led a workshop on understanding and communicating your value and personal brand. Similarly, our keynote speaker and Microsoft’s Head of Global Talent Optimization, Monica Pool Knox, spoke about her professional journey after getting her MBA at Texas McCombs, and how the program helped shape both her career and the way she thinks about the world around her. Finally, if there were any lingering questions, a second panel of first and second-year MBAs discussed their paths to pursuing their degree, the culture and community at McCombs, and what life in Austin is truly like.

“Austin is very diverse in every sense of the word: Diversity of thought, experience, backgrounds,” said Kyle Johnson. “You can be who you want to be here, and I love that.”

Diversity weekend organizers

MBA Admissions staff Jaden Felix and Rebecca St. Nicholas, and students Carmen Kuncz, Lola Sholola, Vicky Wu, and Kyle Johnson.

Texas McCombs is grateful to all that attended, and to the teams of people that made this event so successful. The event might have ended, but our commitment to fostering a welcoming space for our community is constant.

“It’s two years of your life,” said Kathie. “You really want to be able to give back and leave the place hopefully better than when you came.”


If you have any questions, please reach out to MBA Admissions. For more information on our community and programs, check out our website. Hook ’em!

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