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Real Humans of Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2020

Cooper Henderson, Tuck MBA Class of 2020

Cooper Henderson, Tuck MBA Class of 2020

Age: 29
Hometown: Moab, Utah
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Westminster College (UT), Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2 years teaching high school in Ecuador, 2 years teaching high school in Mexico, and 3 years of nonprofit work focused on US-Russia citizen diplomacy

Why business school? Why now?
Last year, my employer offered me a promotion to chair the high school English department. Within a few years I could become a principal, and eventually a private school’s headmaster. This climb up the administrative ladder would conclude in a frightening place: me appropriating millions of dollars, leading hundreds of employees, and making decisions that impacted thousands of people—all without any formal training in accounting, management, or strategy.

Business school offered the best chance for me to develop the expertise and judgment I need to be successful in executive roles. In terms of timing, I was burned out. Teaching had emotionally exhausted me. I wanted to start a new chapter in which I could leverage the analytical prowess and communication skills I developed in the classroom across a variety of new domains.

Why Tuck? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As a career switcher, I needed an MBA experience that went beyond academic rigor and high rankings. I searched for a program that could help me explore a wide variety of post-graduation possibilities and retain professional flexibility in the long-term. Tuck immediately stood out to me because of the program’s unique culture. This is a business school where students reflect on what inspires them and then seek out experiences, knowledge, and relationships to nurture that inspiration. On a more personal note, I was very eager to live in a rural setting. Walking through a nature preserve on my way to school is a much better fit for me than commuting on the subway.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020?
The accomplishments and talents of my fellow students are truly remarkable. I think my most valuable contribution is a heartfelt desire to hear their story. Each journey to Tuck is invariably something that opens my mind to ideas and places I had never previously considered.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
Players on the middle school girls’ soccer team I coached in Mexico called me a “big ugly tomato” because of how red I would turn in the Sonoran Desert’s sweltering heat.

Post-MBA career interests?
Strategy consulting, general management, and public relations.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I spent a week of ‘semi-vacation’ away from family, friends, and work to write my essays. Long walks and solitude enabled me to develop a coherent and persuasive theme throughout my application.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would contact current students and recent graduates with professional backgrounds comparable to my own long before applying. This targeted outreach takes time, so start your research now!

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The dead time between interviewing and receiving admissions decisions is painful. I did my best to pour energy into parts of my life that I had neglected while preparing my application. 

What is your initial impression of Tuck’s students/culture/community?
The hype is justified. People here are just as accomplished, intelligent, and well-rounded as advertised. I can feel the way in which I think about the world being sharpened by exposure to such impressive classmates. Proximity to their ambition and success is elevating how I envision my own future. 

One thing you have learned about Tuck that has surprised you?
There are many students with non-business backgrounds here. I feared being the lone black sheep with a peculiar résumé and that is not the case. 

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Balance. There are only 24 hours each day to fit in academic responsibilities, internship recruitment, club participation, networking with alumni, and the boring stuff like exercise, laundry, and sleep. 

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Sports have always been a huge passion of mine, so tripod hockey is something I am thrilled about. Everyone assures me that never having worn ice skates won’t be a problem—we’ll see about that.

Posted in: General, MBA Feature, News, Real Humans of MBA Class of 2020, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: Dartmouth / Tuck

About the Author

Jon Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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