Tag: texas mccombs (page 1 of 9)

Student Spotlight: Laura
Gallardo, MBA at Houston
Class of 2021

Laura Gallardo Headshot

Laura Gallardo
MBA at Houston ’21

Laura Gallardo is a first-generation college student that learned to navigate her own way through undergrad to Texas McCombs. From applying for scholarships & aid, to registering for classes for the first time, Laura took the initiative to ensure optimal success in her professional life. She is now taking her attained journalism and public relations skill set into the business world as she works toward her MBA at Houston degree.

In October, Laura Gallardo took over Instagram stories on MBAchic  to show followers what a day in the life of a working professional student is like in our Texas McCombs MBA at Houston program.

Laura’s motivation to pursue her MBA is fueled by the desire to make her family proud. 

“My parents emigrated from Mexico in pursuit of a better life. My father’s work ethic has always resonated with me and motivated me. As a teenager, it’s so easy to be influenced by the wrong crowd, particularly in the area that we grew up. I knew that if I wanted my sister to stay on the right track, I needed to set the right example for her.”

Choosing a Business School

After completing her undergraduate degree, Laura pursued a job in journalism as a local news producer. She worked in the newsroom for six years before transitioning into a traditional public communications role at a law firm. After 11 years as a working professional, Laura realized she had to move outside her comfort zone. An MBA felt like her calling.

In recent years, I found myself making multiple lateral professional moves, when in fact I’d been vying for leadership roles. I took a hard look at my career and determined that in order to shift my professional life in an upward direction, I had to re-invest in my education. A BA in communications has served me well so far, but I am hungry for strong professional growth.

Laura says she had a gut instinct that drew her to attend McCombs. She knew she wanted to ensure that she was pursuing a degree from a school that held weight in the business world, and was drawn to the University of Texas at Austin for its recognizable name and reputation.

I made my decision to apply to McCombs after sitting through an admissions webinar series hosted by our program’s amazing admissions counselor, Jenn Cole. The webinar series was incredibly helpful in walking me through the admissions process from point A to point Z. From my very first interactions with the program, I know it could potentially be a right fit for me. 

That gut instinct was solidified after attending an open house in the spring and sitting through a class. The program’s culture immediately drew me in. Current students were extremely helpful in answering questions about the workload, schedule, and overall culture – in other words, just keeping it real! Their willingness to share was very comforting. Now as a student, I can confirm that is still the case – the class of 2020 has been incredibly welcoming and inclusive.

Work-Life-School Balance

As a mother of twin 4-year-olds, the MBA at Houston program also offered Laura a convenient weekend class schedule that worked for her family. Her husband’s job requires him to travel during the week, so they felt the program’s alternating weekend structure would be the best fit. Laura developed a routine with her husband to make the addition of the program a smoother life transition.

Laura, her husband and her two children.

“The alternating weekend structure allows my family to have our normal routine during the week, and plan ahead for class weekends. On weeknights leading up to class, I excuse myself immediately after dinner to study, but make sure to read my kids their bedtime story and tuck them in to bed.

Fortunately, now at 4-years-old, they understand why mommy is not around some weekends. As a result, we’ve had some endearing conversations as they’ve asked me questions about school based on their own experiences in pre-k, such as if we have ‘circle time’ and if I ‘learn about colors.’ I try to explain to them as much as possible about my weekend absences or having to step away after dinner to ‘do homework.’

Balancing a family, full-time career, and an MBA does have its challenges for Laura. Having limited time means missing a few soccer games and special occasions. Laura credits her friends and family for being understanding and supportive in the process and her parents for being readily available to provide child care.

“Most importantly in this MBA journey, having a support system that I can rely on for emotional and moral support has been so crucial.”

Laura’s Post-MBA Plans

“Ideally, I would like to apply my current skill set (attained from a career of journalism and public relations) to a different industry. I am increasingly interested in an investor relations role where I can use my new knowledge about accounting and finance, gained here at McCombs, and compliment it with my previous experience. If I remain solely in the communications field, I would hope to lead the marketing strategy team for a publicly traded company or a private equity firm. My long-term goal is to lead at a Fortune 100 company.”

Laura and her children posing by the UT tower

Laura’s Advice to You

“If you’ve been even remotely considering pursuing an MBA, go for it! Invest in your career and yourself. Prepare and begin the admissions process early so you’re not cramming to meet the final deadlines: study for the GMAT, request your letter of recommendation, think about how you’ll fund tuition– set the wheels in motion early. Once June rolls around, the enrollment process moves extremely fast,

Don’t let your role as a parent keep you from pursuing graduate school. Like any major life change, having the right support will be crucial when returning to school, and especially if you have a family. Between classes, projects, and studying, the program will inevitably keep you away from your loved ones, so surround yourself with friends and family who have your best interest at heart, understand, and are there to encourage you.”


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram. Hook ’em!

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

Mario Vasquez, MBA '21

Mario Vazquez, MBA ’21

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

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

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

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

Young Mario with his mother

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

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

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

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

Mario and his family at his college graduation in 2013.

Mario and his family at his college graduation in 2013.

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

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

Mario’s “Why McCombs?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mario’s Advice to You 

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

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


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

Navigating Your Time on the MBA Waitlist

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

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

waitlist webinar January 7, 2020 - register here

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

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

When will I have a final decision?

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

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

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

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

The Silicon Hills

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

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

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

— Kyle Johnson, MBA Class of 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on Campus

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

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

 

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The City’s Culture

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

Austin locals swimming in lake.

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

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

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

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

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Our Longhorn Community

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

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

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

 — Haimanti Gupta, MBA Class of 2021

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

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


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

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

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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