Current Student’s Center Aims To Save Lives of Athletes

“A child deserves the right to play sports without the fear of sudden cardiac death. We have the technology to prevent and treat the condition – it is our moral obligation to cause change.”

Texas Executive MBA Student Stephen Myers pictured with George Foreman

Stephen Myers (right), pictured with the Center’s spokesperson, George Foreman.

The quote above is from Stephen Myers, a current student in our Texas Executive MBA program and also the co-founder of the Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. The Center promotes the awareness, training, screening, and treatment of coronary artery anomalies and sudden cardiac death in athletes, striving to produce experimental evidence that will likely change the way said conditions are viewed by the general public and the medical profession. The research from the Center has been referenced by numerous publications, including the Houston Chronicle, ABC News, and the New York Times.

I recently caught up with Stephen to ask him about his inspiration to found the Center and the process he went through to get it off the ground. Here’s what he had to say:

“My client at the time, Dr Paolo Angelini, a world renowned interventional cardiologist at the Texas Heart Institute, was discussing the story of a child who suffered a sudden cardiac death while playing football. Dr Angelini stated that the death was 100% preventable and 100% treatable. He explained that there is a condition that in most cases does not display symptoms and that often times the first clinical manifestation is death. Detection is done through a simple noninvasive MRI test. The test would detect a coronary artery anomaly and thus the child would be given two options if a positive finding was identified: 1) stop competing in sports or 2) have the surgical procedure which will correct the anomaly and allow the child to participate in sports. 

I then started to research the condition along with deaths that occurred that year. I could not believe the amount of sudden cardiac deaths that had happened on the field of play in the US and overseas. As an athlete since the age of 7, which ultimately landed me at Baylor University as a dual athlete as a wide receiver and as a Track and Field athlete competing in the 400M & 800M, I wondered who is looking out for us as athletes knowing that we could die during competition? 

Many professional athletes have died from this condition while playing their chosen sport in front of family and fans. Simply YouTube “Sudden Cardiac Death” to view a tragedy. Note – the videos are not for the faint of heart, I do not recommend watching them as it is traumatic to see an individual go through this event (sudden death).

For example in 1990, Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers died following a dunk and Celtic forward Reggie Lewis collapsed and died during a workout. I thought if they made it all the way to the pros with this anomaly and they were given the best medical attention possible then why was the condition not detected? What is the excuse? What about your average kid that only has a UIL physical?

The UIL outlines the physical exam that a student must have before competing in organized sports while in school. A nurse or a PA can perform the exam. A physician is not required. From my own experience, the UIL physical only consisted of a doctor listening to my heart and telling me to breath in and out. What disturbed me is that an athlete can die from sudden cardiac death during a sporting activity but yet it is not part of the UIL physical. Moreover, in one article a college coach was quoted as stating that eventually enough kids will die for someone to do something, but right now it’s just not cost effective. I thought what if we could offer a system whereby the service is free via donor support or state and/or federal funding. Could we stop a child from dying and prevent a parent from grieving the loss of the child? Yes.

Being an entrepreneur and seeing an opportunity to create change, I asked Dr. Angelini if he would mind reading a proposal that would address the issue. After submitting the proposal, he asked if I would present a formal business plan to the Texas Heart Institute. On August 8, 2008, I presented the model to Doctors Denton Cooley and James Willerson of the Texas Heart Institute. Dr. Cooley is a heart surgeon famous for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. Dr. Cooley is also the founder and surgeon in-chief of the Texas Heart Institute as well as Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. During the meeting, I noticed Dr. Cooley had written all over the business plan so I felt as though he was taking the pitch seriously so I gained confidence in the meeting as it progressed. 

At first the proposal was not accepted, but I did not deter and started my own center and raised $1M. After proving the model and the reach of the service, on April 21, 2009, my center joined the Texas Heart institute.

Subsequently, the Kinders of Houston, Texas, donated $5M to start the Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies at the Texas Heart Institute. I would manage the project and the vision for expansion. 

To perform the study, we acquired a $2M mobile MRI from Philips and hired staff.  For two years, we have been screening at “no cost” middle school kids in the Houston, Texas area, specifically the HISD and FBISD School Districts. We have screened over 3,000 kids and at 5,000 we will publish findings. The initial findings have been extraordinary and will change the way screening and prevention is viewed in this arena. Moreover, the MRI Study is the largest MRI and EKG study in the world. With George Foreman, Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Madison as spokespersons, we have received a great response from the community.”  

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Posted in Executive MBA

Connect With A Current Student This Winter

With the winter break nearly upon us, we’re excited to announce the return of Coffee Chats with current students.

As Texas MBAs take advantage of the time off of school to head back home, travel to see friends or family, or just vacation in a new city for a few days, many of them have also made time in their schedules to meet up with prospective students to talk about the program.

These informal Coffee Chats present a unique opportunity for those of you who have not been able to attend an info session or take a class visit. Through the current MBA students, we will bring the Texas MBA Program to you, as they are able to answer questions about the program and address any concerns that you have about the application process.

The students will be hosting Coffee Chats in numerous cities over the break – to see a full list of Coffee Chats for each program, visit the links below:

We really hope that you are able to take advantage of this great opportunity and make it out to one of these events – our students can’t wait to meet you!


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Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth

Fund Your MBA With A Business Plan

Think your business plan can hold up against fierce competition? The recently announced Texas Venture Labs Scholar Program from the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) could help fund your MBA. The program awards scholarships to entrepreneurs to pursue their startup businesses as part of earning their MBA.

Attend our Texas Venture Labs Scholar Program webinar this Thursday, December 13th at 12 PM CT to learn more from current students about TVL, the scholarship competition, and entrepreneurship in general.

The total potential value of each TVL Scholar award is $175,000. Competition winners will receive a scholarship package of $50,000, and their startups will be accepted into the Texas Venture Labs accelerator program, also valued at $50,000. Winners will also be automatically considered for a TVL summer internship and for a prestigious position as a postgraduate Accenture TVL Venture Partner, a combined value of $75,000.

Business plans and presentations must be submitted electronically by Jan. 7, 2013. Finalists selected from this group will participate in the competition Feb. 9 on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Plans will be judged by a panel including TVL’s Accenture Venture Partners and representatives from the Texas MBA admissions committee and the McCombs entrepreneurship faculty.

If you have any questions about the program, feel free to reach out to us at anytime. We hope that you’ll join us on Thursday to learn more during the webinar.

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Posted in Evening MBA, Events, Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

Fall 2012 By The Numbers

Written by Tina Mabley, Director of the Texas MBA Full-Time Program

Fall semester has the contradictory quality of seeming to fly by and last forever at the same time. When you think back to August, it seems a lifetime ago and yet, it’s hard to believe how fast it all goes. It’s kind of like summer camp when you were a kid.

With so much going on, I thought we should review our collective fall semester in the Full-Time MBA Program…by the numbers:

First things first, we were happy to see Texas MBA ranked in Business Week #19. Up from #25 last year. Read more ›

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December Events Schedule

December Events Schedule

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Posted in Evening MBA, Events, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

Photo Gallery: Powerful Austin Women Networking Reception

Texas MBA Students at Powerful Austin Women Networking Event

Earlier this month, Laura Kilcrease, Texas MBA ’92 and current entrepreneur-in-residence at the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at McCombs, hosted the Powerful Austin Women Networking Reception for McCombs’ Graduate Women in Business.

To view the full gallery of photos from the event, visit the Texas MBA Facebook page.

Texas MBA Students at Powerful Austin Women Networking Event

Texas MBA Students at Powerful Austin Women Networking Event Texas MBA Students at Powerful Austin Women Networking Event

All photos copyright © Virgil McCullough

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Posted in Career

My-Take Co-Founder Speaks With Texas MBA Marketing Students

My-Take co-founder Rich Armstrong, MBA ’92, recently stopped by McCombs to touch base with a few former professors and to speak to a class of current Texas MBA marketing students about his experiences. My-Take caught up with Rich for a brief Q&A following the session, in which he offered the “very energetic, inquisitive” McCombs students a few bits of advice:

MY-TAKE: Having worked at Fortune 500 companies, and now leading your own business, how did you advise students in terms of choosing between a corporate career versus entrepreneurial endeavors?
ARMSTRONG: Do what makes you happy. It’s not bad to have experience, but there are upfront challenges to both. From the corporate end – there are a lot of things that can be learned. We never could have started this business without our corporate experience and a lot of My-Take’s success came from the people Todd (Todd Hoskins, My-Take’s co-founder) and I know. Plus you could have the best idea in the world, but there’s a whole process of selling it and the skills you need to be versed in to make the business happen. With an entrepreneurial path – I control my own destiny. It really comes down to what you want out of life.

MY-TAKE: What is the one thing that you wanted to make sure you impressed upon the Texas MBAs?
ARMSTRONG: Stay positive in whatever you’re doing. Rarely is there a straight line that gets you there, but stay focused on your end goal.

MY-TAKE: How can students best prepare themselves to succeed in the current environment?
ARMSTRONG: Get some experience on the job, whether you do an internship or work full-time first. Network and don’t let opportunities pass you by. Be proactive with folks.

Visit the My-Take website to read the entire Q&A with Texas MBA alum Rich Armstrong.

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Posted in Alumni, Career, Full-Time MBA

Recent Alumnus Among Military’s Top 40 Under 40

Carlos Dinkins, a member of the Texas MBA Full-Time class of 2012, was recently named one of’s Top 40 Under 40 Military, which recognizes the top service members who are serving or have served in the U.S. armed forces. I was recently able to catch up with Carlos, now a Category Manager for PepsiCo, to ask about the award and his experiences in the U.S. Army and at McCombs.

Texas MBA Alumnus Carlos DinkinsCarlos, congratulations on being recognized, I know it is well-deserved. Can you tell us what it means to you to be named one of the military’s “Top 40 under 40″?
Thank you! I greatly appreciate all the love and support coming from McCombs. The greatest honor of my life has been leading soldiers in combat and to be selected into this prestigious group of similar candidates is absolutely breathtaking.

Please tell us a little bit about your time in the military. What were some of your responsibilities?
I commissioned in the army in 2005 after graduating from Florida State University. After five months of initial training, I was stationed in Hawaii – within a year of graduating from FSU, I was in Iraq. I had the privilege to work at almost every level of the military as a junior officer, from the lowest tactical level as a platoon leader to one of the highest strategic levels as an Intelligence Aide to the Deputy Commanding General. The greatest responsibility however would definitely be as a platoon leader.UAV PLATOON 1

As previously mentioned, the greatest time I had in the military was the 13 months I spent as a leader of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platoon both in Hawaii and in Iraq. I was responsible for the health and welfare of 34 soldiers and the maintenance, inspection, and operations of four UAVs valued at over $16 million. UAVs, or “Drones” as they are known in popular culture, are increasingly becoming the most important asset to the ground warfighter, and I was fortunate to be blessed with 34 hard-charging, technically, and tactically proficient soldiers. Over the course of our deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009, we provided the absolute best, incident-free coverage, to the 4,000+ infantry brigade combat team, and were directly responsible for constructing and operating state of the art UAV antennae systems in some of the most volatile locations in Iraq. I still to this day get the largest smile on my face when I think about my platoon.

How did your military experience prepare you for a business career? What was the transition from the military to the corporate world like?
My father, a decorated Vietnam Veteran, always has a way of using acronyms to teach a lesson. I’m positive he learned that in the military because I do the same today. He always told me that “As a leader you have to be ‘F.A.I.R.’ at all times.” Flexible, Accountable, Inspirable, and Respectable. If there’s anything my father and the military taught me, it is how to be flexible with uncertainty, accountable for your actions, inspiring to those around you, and respected by your superiors, subordinates, and peers. My transition from the military to corporate was rather simple because I’ve never lost sight of that. It also didn’t hurt that I had the opportunity to spend two years learning at one of the greatest institutions in one of the greatest cities in this nation!

Would you encourage other service men and women to get their MBAs? If so, why?
Of course! Whenever a Veteran approached me while I was on the McCombs Admissions Committee, I told them the story of my best friends from FSU ROTC or Hawaii, and I framed the details around the phrase “100%.” 100% of my best friends, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan that have earned their MBA are extremely successful in their business career. Whether it was former Captain Daniel Avenick at Chicago, Captain Alexi Holmberg at MIT, Captain Nicholas Padlo at Stanford (2010 Top 40 Under 40), Captain Alex Grace at Notre Dame, Captain Dustin Healey at Northwestern, Captain Frank Aburto at Cornell, or one of many others, they are all excelling at the best firms in the world – McKinsey, Bain, P&G, Bank of America, CSP Associates, and PepsiCo. 100% of us have honorably left the service and have successfully carried the core values of the military with us into the business sector.


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Posted in Alumni, Full-Time MBA, Press

Texas MBA Soars To No. 19 In Latest Businessweek Rankings

Originally posted by Matt Turner on McCombs Today.

McCombs Hits 19 In Businessweek’s Coveted MBA Ranking

The Texas MBA Program soared to No. 19 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2012 biennial ranking of the best business schools in the nation.

Now in its 13th season, Businessweek’s survey is widely considered America’s most influential business school ranking. The Businessweek ranking, which debuted in 1988, has only three components: student satisfaction (45 percent), employer satisfaction (45 percent), and intellectual capital (10 percent).

The Texas MBA Program improved in all three areas, with an especially strong rally in the employer survey, where the school came in 15th in the nation based on 663 responses. In the student survey, McCombs received a letter grade of “A” for career services, leadership skills, and caliber of classmates.

“We are pleased with our top-20 ranking,” says Tina Mabley, director of the full-time MBA program. “Businessweek measures two of our key stakeholders: students and employers. While we don’t manage to the rankings, exceeding student expectations and developing exceptional talent for today’s employers is always our goal.”

In the intellectual capital component, which measures the faculty’s research prowess, McCombs rose to 4th place, besting big-hitters such as Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Harvard, and Stanford.

(New this year, included videos of MBA life at the top-25 programs—check out McCombs’ video—and has launched a new online B-School finder tool, which enables readers to compare schools around the world on more than 100 metrics.)

For the fourth time in a row, Chicago took the highest spot out of 63 ranked institutions. Harvard and Wharton came in second and third, respectively.

McCombs was a top gunner among schools that ascended in rank. Having risen six spots from No. 25, the school’s robust increase was matched only by Cornell among the top-30 schools ranked in the business journal’s 2010 list.

Other top schools seeing improvements in rank included Carnegie Mellon, Indiana, and Notre Dame (all up four).

Schools dropping in rank included the likes of Berkeley and Columbia, as well as Brigham Young and Minnesota (all down five). Those taking a tumble also included Michigan State and Southern Methodist University (down 15 and 17 ranks, respectively).

Apart from McCombs, the only other Texas school to land in the top 30 was Texas A&M at rank 26. SMU came in at 29th, Rice at 36th, and Texas Christian University at 46th.

For more on Businessweek’s methodology, see our ranking pages or Businessweek’s discussion.

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Posted in Full-Time MBA, Press

Texas MBA Alum’s ‘Spirit Sticks’ Become Latest Schoolyard Craze

This story features Texas Executive MBA alumnus Luis deBonoPaula, MBA ’08. Original story and photos were published in the Fall 2012 edition of Law Notes, the newsletter for the St. Mary’s University School of Law.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Luis deBonoPaula (third from right), now a second-year law student, is a retired U.S. Air Force combat aviator and officer.

Like most law students, Luis deBonoPaula has many irons in the fire. The retired U.S. Air Force pilot is a husband, father of four, marathon runner and entrepreneur. Maybe it was the 22 years in the military, but deBonoPaula is committed to each duty.

A second-year law student, he has built a reputation as a successful entrepreneur who knows how to make projects work. deBonoPaula has owned several small businesses and guided each to the million dollar-sales benchmark. He’s licensed craft products distributed to Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Target and Wal-Mart, surpassing $20 million in sales. He’s also a judge for the University of Texas’ Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, a prestigious showcase of student companies. He has even mentored one of those companies after the competition, joining its board and helping raise $2 million in venture capital.

The successful entrepreneur has opened and closed the NASDAQ (fourth from right).

His most recent venture, Spirit Monkey, has become the latest schoolyard craze. The company produces cloth, patch-like tags called “spirit sticks” that are used to decorate backpacks, lanyards, instrument cases and key rings. Schools use them to motivate and reward students for achievements such as attendance, reading, sports participation and honor roll.

The idea came to deBonoPaula’s wife, Lisa, who as a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) president, was brainstorming new incentives for students beyond the usual unhealthy foods or worthless trinkets. Lisa thought of cloth tags similar to the ones she’d seen on airplane landing gear. Through their contacts from other business ventures, Luis and Lisa created spirit sticks.

“Schools are finding amazing success with these incentives,” said Luis deBonoPaula. “Many are collecting data on how the spirit sticks have improved attendance and decreased tardiness, which is important to schools with state funding. And the kids love these things.”

DeBonoPaula said principals have offered spirit sticks for attending low-turnout events such as science labs, and then watched the events become standing room only. Not only are spirit sticks popular, they’re affordable for schools that don’t have money specifically budgeted for incentives.

Spirit Monkey began selling spirit sticks to school districts 15 months ago, now projecting $2.5 million in sales this year.

“For the first 10 months, we sold 500,000 sticks,” deBonoPaula said. “We sold 500,000 sticks last month.”

At last count, Spirit Monkey’s spirit sticks were being used by almost 300 schools in eight states. Elementary schools are the largest market, but even high schools are using the company’s patches and key rings.

How does deBonoPaula balance law school with his burgeoning business? By working 20 hours a day, he said. He has recently taken on partners, which he hopes will help him concentrate more on school.

He admits that it can all be “very overwhelming,” but has secrets to his success. He records audio from all his classes and has classmates do it for him when he’s away at meetings.

“I am religious about keeping up with my outlines,” deBonoPaula said. “I don’t have time to catch up, so I never get behind.”

He seems to be an expert at the balancing act — he’s ranked third in his class.

“Unlike most law students, I didn’t come back to school to change careers or make more money,” deBonoPaula said. “I love learning and have always enjoyed learning about the law. I wouldn’t rule out practicing law — I’d love to be a litigator — but for now I’ll be applying it in my business.”

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Posted in Alumni, Executive MBA, Press
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