Category: Diversity & Inclusion (page 1 of 4)

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: 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!

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!

Texas McCombs Community: Pride 2019

Last week, Austin held its annual Stonewall Riots Rally at the Texas Capitol to raise awareness about violence against the LGBTQ+ community and to celebrate Pride in a safe space. This year is the 50th Anniversary of the historic Stonewall Riots in 1969 where members of the LGBTQ+ community fought against a police raid on June 28 at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York. A year later, the very first Gay Pride Parades in America took place in New York, California, and Illinois. Since then, cities all over the country host Pride marches and celebrations to highlight LGBTQ+ identities and allies in the community during the month of June.

Photo of rainbow pride flag in front of the Texas state capitol

Photo Courtesy of Austin Pride Facebook

Austin has many Pride Month celebrations around town in June but for various reasons, its official Pride festival and parade is held in August– this also gives the UT Austin student population, a very active part of the LGBTQ+ community, the opportunity to volunteer and participate. The MBA program is celebrating Pride Month by recognizing the impact, courage, and achievements of our students that are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference at McCombs

On February 8th, Texas McCombs hosted its first ever Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference. This event aimed to identity how companies and business leaders create effective strategies to transform their current culture into one where both diversity and inclusion become embedded into the organization’s core values. Texas McCombs students and staff have been participating in more D&I conversations within the program and with the outside business community in recent years with an understanding that MBA community strength and positive growth is fostered through these efforts.

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

The First Conference of Its Kind

Elevate was first conceived by MBA students Ashley Fox and DeAndrea Staes. They identified the diversity and inclusion space as a big opportunity for growth and community outreach for the MBA program.

Through the conference, Ashley and DeAndrea targeted the recruitment of underrepresented minorities as a potential improvement area for MBA programs and created an Elevate Diversity Scholarship to provide support to underrepresented minority students accepted to the McCombs School of Business.

Ashley Fox and DeAndrea Staes at Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference. Photo by Lauren Gerson

“The most impactful part of the conference was seeing what started as a small vision, grow into something phenomenal. Over the course of two days, seeing our sponsors, speakers, students and community come together in a collaborative fashion for a common purpose truly sparked something great for the future of McCombs,” says DeAndrea. “I truly enjoyed seeing participants roll their sleeves up at the design thinking session hosted by IBM to address critical questions like, ‘How do you find acceptance inside a company’s culture?’ and ‘What happens financially when companies are not diverse and inclusive?’ This set the tone for an amazing conference with powerful conversations.”

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

We created this event to evoke change in the McCombs community and create a sustainable, long-term solution that would provide a forum for the University of Texas and greater Austin community to engage and learn about diversity, inclusion, and culture,” says Ashley. “The feeling after the Elevate Conference ended was indescribable. After we gave our closing remarks, we knew that this conference would be a marquee event and change agent for the Texas McCombs and Austin community for years to come.”

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

“I am truly proud of what Ashley and I were able to accomplish and know that this is just the beginning,” says DeAndrea. “We are excited to see what the future holds for this dynamic, student-led, electrifying conference!”

The Keynote Speakers 

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