Author: Divina Ceniceros Dominguez (page 1 of 2)

eQual MBAs #Pride Stories

As Pride Month comes to an end, Texas McCombs would like to highlight how our Engaged Queer & Ally (eQual) MBAs organization has continued to support the McCombs and Austin communities, share resources and organize exclusively in a digital platform to celebrate Pride this year. Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, McCombs students continue to stay engaged, as world-changing leaders committed to serving our many diverse communities.

Equal MBA team photo

eQual MBA students at Texas McCombs

Who are eQual MBAs?

Engaged Queer & Ally (eQual) MBAs, McCombs’ LGBTQ+ affinity group, is dedicated to promoting diversity & inclusion in the @utexasmba program & community at large. Every year, they’re committed to recruiting more LGBTQ+ prospective students, organizing regular events, connecting to alumni, and building relationships with allies and sponsors. Furthermore, through their efforts, eQual MBAs bring forth educational discussions to McCombs about gender and sexuality, advocate for allyship and inclusion, and connect members to the larger Austin LQBTQ+ community. Overall, the group is divided into three different pillars: allyship, alumni, and service.

Aside from being full-time MBA students, everyone involved in the organization has faced additional challenges throughout their eQual MBA journey. Despite being the smallest affinity group at Texas McCombs, they continue to grow. Currently, they hold 14 LGBTQ+ members — a record high for the club – along with many allies as members. 2020-2021 co-presidents Andie Parazo and Matt Mason look forward to continuing to grow membership and offering support and resources to the LGBTQ+ and ally community at McCombs.

The eQual MBAs organization, to me, means having a community that will always be there to support me. The members of eQual are not only the people that I rely on to help organize events for the advancement of queer and all underrepresented people’s rights, but they are also some of my closest friends in the MBA program.

— Matt Mason, eQqual MBAs Co-President, MBA Class of 2021

Allyship, Intersectionality and the Importance of Showing Up

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Student Spotlight: Rafael Flores, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth Class of 2021

Rafael Flores Headshot

Rafael Flores, MBA Candidate, Class of 2021

Rafael Flores was 15 years into his career when he decided it was time to go back to school and pursue his MBA.

After graduating in 2005 from the University of Rochester with a degree in Economics, Rafael began his career in the finance and banking sector with Chase Bank and Northwestern Mutual. Eventually, he found his way to Allstate, where he’s worked for almost ten years.

 

“As I continued to develop in my career through various roles, I regretted not diving further in understanding the finance subject matter and strategy discussions from an executive level,” he says. “I found myself with enough work experience to where my MBA coursework can be directly applied to my job, such as challenging myself to take on broader roles and lead a larger scope of employees.”

Despite having a successful career with Allstate, Rafael kept looking back at his undergraduate experience wishing he could’ve done more as a student. Funding was in the way of a lot of his potential endeavors, and so he made it his mission to get his MBA as soon as he finished paying off his student loans.

This past year, he finally did.

Picture of McCombs sign on Rafael's first day with a caption saying "It's official. Day 1 of getting my MBA started. #mba #mccombs

Why McCombs?

While researching graduate business schools to attend, Rafael met with Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer for the Weekend MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program, and was impressed with both the network and recruitment opportunities at McCombs. He also appreciated the flexibility that the Working Professional program offers its students.

“I [chose] McCombs due to its strong network culture, career development resources and credibility as a top business school in the country,” Rafael says. “When I considered those factors alongside the benefits of being able to take advantage of everything as a working professional without having to leave my job or move away from the Dallas-Forth Worth Area, I realized McCombs was going to be my home.”

From Corporate to Campus

Rafael had to learn to navigate being a non-traditional student by deciding to get his MBA after ten years of working at a corporate level. Rafael learned more about time management and organization but says the biggest lesson that helped him overcome challenges was relying on his peers.

“There has to be a time for family, work, and most importantly yourself (not necessarily in that order at times). I still struggle at times to get everything done; however, my UT friends, study group, classmates are all a part of my extended family now, and we make it work,” he says. “I just keep remembering to adapt to changes and continue to move forward.”

Aside from his schoolwork, Rafael considers his position as McCombs Ambassador Committee (MAC) Chair Member as amazing to his overall MBA journey.

“My own admission process is what inspired me to get involved. I had a lot of questions and uncertainties about starting my MBA. The admissions process didn’t just walk me through how to showcase my personality and academic ability; it also introduced me to the structure and culture of McCombs, which I fell in love with.”

Group of people posing with Hook Em sign

Rafael and fellow MBA students at a McCombs event

Since the MBA schoolwork relies heavily on collaboration, Rafael says he is balancing out his work and student organization responsibilities a lot smoother. As MAC Chair, Rafael has maintained strong connections with his classmates and  UT friends.

“The experience I hope to gain is already becoming a reality. I wanted to make sure the future incoming candidates experience the culture of McCombs and fall in love with the program. Personally, I wanted to get involved in as many networking opportunities amongst the McCombs family.”

Look for a Boss, Not a Job

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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!

A post shared by GWiB at McCombs (@gwibmccombs) on

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!

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!

National First-Gen College Day
at McCombs

In conjunction with UT’s First-Generation College Celebration and the National First-Generation College Celebration this week, we’re proud to highlight several first-generation students in our Texas McCombs MBA community. 

Jose Carlos Rojas

Jose's headshot photo.

Jose Rojas
MBA at Houston ’20

Jose is a first-generation college graduate and Texas McCombs at Houston MBA ’20 student. The hardest thing about being first-gen, he says, was having, “no reference point,” he could go back to as he immersed himself in college. He explains the journey as being lonely as his parents tried their best to understand and help him adjust to this new environment. Despite the challenges, his motivation and dedication to his family were key factors to his academic success. 

 

“After my family and I moved from Chile, I always felt an obligation to make my parents’ sacrifices worth it. I see them work very hard and I continue to strive to alleviate some of that burden from them. I started looking at MBAs once I saw my career pick up steam. I have gathered a lot of technical knowledge through my experience and felt that I needed to round myself out by pairing it with some business acumen. I chose Texas McCombs because of its great reputation, world-class faculty, and the flexibility it allowed me to have without having to quit my job.”

When asked about what advice he would give to other first-gen students, Jose strongly believes in the value of community, and that you don’t need to go through this difficult journey on your own. Currently, he’s working on getting his younger sister into college, and trying to ease any stress points she’s presently encountering that he’s been able to overcome.

“Surround yourself with people that will help, motivate and care for you. There’s value in not making college just about studying: Join clubs and activities to immerse yourself into your college and get a full experience.”

Emy Hernandez

Emy with her parents at graduation.

“For my parents, they came with nothing and gave me everything.”

Emy is a Texas McCombs MBA at Houston alumna. Her family, who only had a primary school education, inspired her and her sister to pursue higher education, instilling the value of having access to education from an early age. For Emy, having a strong community and support system to guide her has been a key factor in her success. 

“Find your community within the school that you are in, and find a mentor, staff member, or professor who can help guide your decisions. Being the first in your family to attend college, whether undergraduate or graduate school, can be intimidating and it is important that students know there is someone who can guide them.”

Along her journey towards higher education, Hernandez had difficulty dealing with Imposter Syndrome. Nevertheless, Emy is proof that you can overcome any challenge with hard work, dedication and strong support systems.

“Do not be afraid to take the next step in your personal and professional life; whether you’re applying for a new job or pursuing an additional degree. I am a Latina, queer, daughter of immigrants, inner-city Houston-raised, and graduate of a high school known as a ‘drop-out factory’ – the statistics were against me. It wasn’t easy, and today I am proud of what I have accomplished and I know my parents and my community are too.”

Waldo Arreola

Headshot for Waldo Arreola

Waldo Arreola
Full-Time MBA ’20

Waldo is a first-generation Full-Time Class of 2020 MBA at Texas McCombs. As a child, he was raised by “hard-working immigrant parents” that highly encouraged his intellectual development, and his interest in puzzles and systems within math and science, which eventually led to a bachelor’s degree in engineering & management. 

During his time as an undergrad and graduate student, Arreola struggled to adjust to the demands that time management and personal accountability have on students. However, having strong mentorships and student involvement helped him stay engaged, help others and invest in his future.

“Be curious! Ask questions! Connect with people! Get involved! First-generation students might not have as many resources as others, including networks, and might have the added pressure of supporting family members with their personal success, so it is critical to be engaged and deliberate as you pursue your personal and professional goals.”


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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