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Real Humans of the UC Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2022

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Donnie Leggett, Haas MBA Class of 2022

Age:  27
Hometown:  Chicago, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major:  DePaul University, Finance
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry):  5 years in the healthcare industry working for Cardinal Health.  I completed their 3-year leadership development program and spent my last two years in strategic pricing.

Why business school? Why now? 
I’ve always had my mind set on getting my MBA, but the reasons and timing became more clear towards the end of my time at Cardinal Health.  I knew that I enjoyed working in healthcare and wanted to stay in the industry, but I also felt that I could be making a bigger impact.  I wanted to grow my knowledge of the healthcare system through electives, clubs, and fellow classmates.  Speaking of classmates, the network growth you experience during business school is unlike anything else.  In terms of timing, I’m at a point in my life where I can devote the necessary time and energy to this program to make the most of it.  After gaining 5 years of work experience at Cardinal Health, I felt that I was in a good place to put my career on hold.

Why Berkeley Haas? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The first thing that stood out about Haas is the school values.  I won’t recite them here, but through interacting with students and alumni, it became very clear how this school lives and breathes its values.  It showed me that there is an identity and culture that is actively upheld, and that culture aligned with my own values.  Another factor is the location.  I’ve spent my whole life up to this point in the Midwest and wanted a different geographic experience.  I don’t think I need to spend any time here selling the Bay Area as a great place to live, but beyond that the innovation and opportunities for career exploration in this part of the country are unmatched.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I started playing Dungeons and Dragons a couple of years ago and recently finished my first campaign which lasted over a year!

Post-MBA career interests?
While I’m keeping an open mind, post-MBA I see myself either working for another large healthcare company in a strategy role or exploring the healthcare startup space and using this opportunity to gain a different perspective.  The impact I hope to make in the long run is working towards increasing access and affordability for underrepresented groups.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?

Reach out to as many current students and alumni as you can.  Especially with COVID making travel more difficult, talking to people and having honest conversations will go a long way in determining whether or not a specific school will be a good fit for you.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
If I could go back, one thing I would change or do differently is starting my essays earlier.  I applied to five programs and started off by focusing too much of my time on the essays for one or two schools, which caused me to have to cram during the last week before applications were due.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I don’t think I’m alone in wishing I could have skipped the GMAT.  It’s expensive, time-consuming, and requires a tremendous amount of patience.  Keeping my focus on the end goal and having the patience to retool my approach when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted helped me get through it.

What is your initial impression of Haas’s students/culture/community?
The culture here is very close-knit and has exceeded my expectations.  The student body has gone above and beyond in making an effort to feel connected to classmates with this experience being virtual so far.  People are always willing to host activities like distanced gatherings, hikes, and virtual game nights to build community.

One thing you have learned about Haas that has surprised you?
I can honestly say there hasn’t been anything that has surprised me yet.  Going in I knew what I was getting from this program after speaking with students and alumni, visiting campus, and meeting classmates.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Getting through core has definitely been top of mind for me.  The fall semester is very fast-paced and requires you to prioritize your time effectively between social life, career exploration, and academics.  Finding and maintaining that balance is something that I’m working to be better at.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited about continuing to meet classmates and exploring the Bay Area.  Obviously, COVID makes that process a little more difficult, but there are still many safe and distanced activities out here in the bay.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.