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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!

The Military Community at
Texas McCombs

Texas McCombs recognizes the value military veterans bring to our programs. Our community is one of support and dedication helping prepare you for career success, which is why our MBA is consistently a top program for veterans. This November, in honor of Veterans Day on 11/11, the MBA program honors all of our active and former military students and supporters.

Scholarships, Financial Aid and Career Support

All veterans are eligible to receive our merit-based admissions scholarships and are automatically considered for these upon applying to the program. Veterans will also automatically receive a waiver for the application fee upon submitting their application to the program.

The UT Austin Office of Student Veteran Services is available to help MBA veterans navigate federal and state education benefits as well as connecting them with additional grants and scholarships that may be available to them. Student Veterans Services also offers academic support, health care, and wellness services and helps foster a community among veterans across the UT Austin campus.

No matter what your goals are, our MBA Career Management team, with dedicated counselors for each program, based in Austin, Houston, and Dallas/Fort Worth, offers endless resources for helping you discover your strengths and relevant transferable skills that will make you stand out.

Military Student Organizations

Texas Veterans in Business is the primary student organization for military MBAs. TViB draws parallels between military principals and skills to be successful in business. The org is also a great way to get connected with other military MBAs and participate in community events. 

The Student Veterans Association is dedicated to creating a welcoming social environment for veterans and their families, providing information on relocating to Austin, and offering programs to promote academic and professional success.

Rebecca Larson, President of the association says their goal is to provide a sense of belonging at UT. “We also aim to be a positive example and advocate for other non-traditional student population,” she says. “Our events provide a social setting for our members and their friends and family to bond, relax, and network with those who share a similar background.”

Austin and the Military Community

The city is not only “The Live Music Capital of the World,” but is also a growing hub for technology, healthcare, media and more. WalletHub ranked Austin as the No. 1 place to live for veterans based on employment, economy, health, and the quality of life in 2018.

There are several organizations in Austin that host celebrations or events for our military community throughout the year, including the annual Austin Veterans Day Parade, the Austin Veteran Arts Fest, and Capital Factory’s Veterans in Tech Summit.

The Air Force debuted its latest technology innovation hub in Austin last summer within the Capital Factory. AFWERX Austin specializes in integrating innovative technologies with Air Force programs, augmented and Virtual Reality technologies for Airmen training, and rapid testing and evaluation with Air Force stakeholders. 

Austin is also home to the U.S. Army Futures Command, which has grown from 12 to 24,000 personnel, in only one year. The command was created to oversee the Army’s modernization efforts and is now the Army’s largest reorganization effort in more than 40 years. Austin was chosen as the headquarters location for the “combination of top-tier academic talent, cutting edge industry and an innovative private sector,” said Secretary of the Army at that time Mark T. Esper. UT Austin is serving as a long-term partner and a research hub for the Army Futures Command as faculty and students work with the Army on areas of mutual interest and help to solve problems to serve our country.

Events to Learn More About our Military MBA Community

This year, we are offering two webinars for our future military MBAs. These webinars are virtual info sessions hosted by admissions staff and current students to talk about our programs, student life, career transition, and the application process.  

Military Community: Texas McCombs Full-Time MBA
Wednesday, November 6, 2019,  12:00 – 1:00 PM CST
Register Now

Military Community: Working Professional & Executive MBA
Thursday, November 14, 2019, 12:00 – 12:45 PM CST
Register Now

Discover McCombs: Military Weekend

Our annual MBA Military Weekend is also coming in April. This event is your opportunity to meet and network with MBA faculty, staff, veterans enrolled in our program, and McCombs military alumni. Military Weekend will also feature resources to help you successfully transition from your military career to a top MBA. Registration for Military Weekend is coming soon so please monitor our events page.

Current Military MBAs

Caroline Green
Full-Time MBA ’21

Caroline Green completed a six-year military commitment in June 2019 where she worked as an Internal Medicine Physician in the U.S. Air Force. She holds a B.S in Biological Sciences and a B.A in English from the University of Norte Dame and an M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine. She decided to pursue her MBA to help push for systematic change in the U.S. healthcare system and hopes that learning “the language of business” will help her advocate for both doctors and patients.  

Why McCombs?

Coming from a medical training background, I honestly didn’t know where to start in evaluating different schools.  Researching school culture was difficult as I was applying from an overseas location, but I combed the school’s website, followed the school’s social media platforms, and was able to get a great sense of the culture from questions I asked during my interview. I knew Austin has great hospital systems as well as a medical school with a strong focus on healthcare innovation, so proximity to these institutions was also attractive. McCombs also has a very flexible curriculum that would support my career ambitions.”

I felt that this school genuinely emphasized its commitment to support veterans, women, and mothers. I am a member of all of these subgroups of students, and felt very welcomed and encouraged to apply. I felt that the interest and attention each individual gave me was genuine and heartfelt.”

Austin Price
Full-Time MBA ’21

Austin Price served for six years in the Marine Corps as an Intelligence Officer after graduating from the United States Naval Academy. He led teams in analyzing crucial developments of technology and the broader international relationships in geopolitics. He decided to pursue his MBA after realizing that he was interested in the tech sector, pushing innovation, or in the finance sector, analyzing markets.

Why McCombs?

“I knew that I wanted to work within the tech or the asset management space. McCombs immediately leaped out as a clear leader in both areas, with the massive growth in the Apple, Google, Facebook, and Oracle presence in the area and the MBA Investment Fund, the first and one of the largest of its kind. When I came to interview, I immediately connected with a fellow veteran in his first year in the program, and his description of the program and the amazing new facility completely sold me on coming here. Having now spent several months in Austin and in the program, I am so glad I came here. I would put our location, climate, job opportunities, and local affordability against any other MBA program.”

“The passion with which every student seems to live their life surprised me. No matter what you want to focus on, from studies to community impact, to the Austin food or outdoor scene, to just plain fun, it is easy to find someone who is willing to do something with. I can just drop a message into one of our Slack channels and be playing volleyball at Zilker Park a few hours later.”

headshot for Elijah Tramble

Elijah Tramble
MBA at Houston  ’20

Elijah Tramble is an Active Duty Acquisitions Officer in the Air Force and a Working Professional MBA student at our McCombs campus in Houston. Elijah saw the opportunity to continue his development and gain a diverse perspective in a weekend program..

Why McCombs?

“I was spending a lot of time researching evolving trends in space and cyber technology while implementing organizational change initiatives to improve the products we developed. I became really interested in how to build a highly effective organization that stayed on the forefront of technology. I knew how the military did it, but was interested in how other small and large organizations dealt with this challenge. Business school seemed like a great environment to learn from the diverse experiences of faculty and classmates. I was impressed by the excitement and quality of the people I met when visiting McCombs. The professors not only had an academic perspective but most of them also had practical experience to share. The admissions counselor – Jennipher Cole, was authentic and incredibly helpful throughout the process making it an easy decision.”

Cameron Gilmore's headshot

Cameron Gilmore
MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth  ’20

Cameron Gilmore proudly served as a logistics officer in the United States Army. During his time he was able to serve as a platoon leader, executive officer, company commander and senior program manager. Cameron realized that while he had leadership and operations experience he was lacking the corporate experience and context that would separate him from other top candidates.

Why McCombs?

“I chose McCombs because it was the top-ranked program in Dallas/Fort Worth that placed an emphasis on community partnership and student collaboration. In addition, the career services support alongside the University of Texas brand and network made my decision easy. I have used my time at McCombs, in conjunction with working in financial services, to hone the skills necessary to best position myself for success as a leader in Corporate America.”

 


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

We hope you’ll come visit us in Austin to learn more about how the Texas McCombs and UT Austin Communities support our Military MBAs. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Hook ‘em!

First Look: MBA at Houston
Class of 2021

The deadline for the Round 1 MBA at Houston application is just around the corner! Our admissions team is committed to selecting bright, world-changing students that offer unique perspectives to their incoming class. 

Last year, our admissions team received a strong pool of applications to pull from, and the stats certainly reflect that. With that said, Texas McCombs is proud to welcome our talented students from our Houston MBA program! Check them out:

Texas McCombs MBA at Houston welcomed 83 motivated students to the program as new members of the Longhorn family. These students are no strangers to the fast-paced, hard-working town of Houston and they are all a true testament to the institution they will come to be challenged by over the next two years.

We are excited to see the continued diversity of industry backgrounds from the energy sector & technology, to consulting, the nonprofit space, and government. Through our 83 students, there are over 40 world-renowned companies represented, such as Chevron, Ernst & Young, Oracle, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

We are excited to see the addition of more students from Healthcare this year. Our students also have robust educational backgrounds, as we welcome students with PhDs, RNs and JDs to our class. We have representation from many of the leading healthcare organizations in Houston and our students have backgrounds in entrepreneurship, law, and nursing.

Other industries we introduced to the class this year include telecommunications, retail, and hospitality/consumer services, making this class even more professionally diverse.

Group photo of the Houston Class of 2021.

Introducing our MBA at Houston Class of 2021.

Women make up 24% of our total class population and international students make up 22%. Our MBAs also include members from the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy. Overall, we have seen increasing growth in both under-represented minorities and first-generation college graduate students.

Our Longhorn pride is strong at McCombs but we also celebrate our students from different undergraduate universities as well. Students from this class represent 53 different undergraduate universities, including Stanford, MIT, and Georgia Tech.


Our admissions team feels humbled by the amazing experiences and perspectives making up our latest MBA at Houston students, and cannot wait to see what they accomplish during their time in the program. If you’d like to join them as part of the Texas McCombs MBA network, start your application soon

To learn more about the MBA, download our brochure, check out other  MBA at Houston  events , or follow us on Instagram for an inside look at student life.

We look forward to meeting you and reading your application.

Hook ’em!

First Look: MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth Class of 2021

The Round 1 application deadline for our Dallas/Fort Worth MBA is just around the corner! Our admissions committee is always committed to selecting top-caliber students to offer their unique perspective to our community. Last year, we had a very strong pool of applications to pull from and the program welcomed its largest class ever as a result, with 94 students beginning their MBA journey with Texas McCombs this past August.

We are proud to welcome our talented class of 2021! 

Our 94 students come from over 37 different organizations, including Goldman Sachs, Collins Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Sabre, and more. Our students span across a number of industries as well– technology, financial services, manufacturing, energy, and healthcare round out the top five.

The percentage of women in the class also increased, continuing an ongoing trend of growth in the number of women in the DFW program– the last three incoming classes have had the highest numbers of women in the program’s history. In addition, we continued to grow our number of under-represented minority students and first-generation college graduates, which is something we hope to see in future classes.

Group photo of the Dallas/Fort Worth Class of 2021

Introducing our Dallas/Fort Worth MBA Class of 2021.

The 2021 students also have the privilege of being the first class to take over the new 17,000 square foot space at The Centrum in Uptown Dallas! The location provides great access to the city’s business community, including companies within The Centrum, such as Capital Factory, Salesforce, BRIT Systems, and the University of Texas System. The bright, innovative space creates opportunities for collaboration, learning with technology, and more access to on-site program staff and comfortable study areas.

Our admissions team feels humbled by the amazing people making up our latest DFW MBA class, and cannot wait to see what they accomplish during their time in the program. If you’d like to join them as part of the Texas McCombs MBA network, remember to start your application soon– We look forward to meeting you in Dallas!

The amazing staff from the Texas McCombs Dallas/Fort Working MBA program.

The Texas McCombs MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth staff at The Centrum opening party.

To learn more about the DFW MBA, download our brochure, check out other DFW MBA events , or follow us on Instagram for an inside look at student life.

Hook ’em!

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