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Real Humans of Texas McCombs’ MBA Class of 2022

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Michael Edwards, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2022

Age: 28
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: United States Military Academy at West Point, American Legal Studies
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Army Artillery Officer, 5.5 years

Why business school? Why now? 
I always knew that I would transition out of the military at some point to pursue professional opportunities in the corporate world. The timing of that decision became clear after I sustained a serious knee injury in 2018 and could no longer effectively pursue my short-term military goals. As I researched opportunities and reached out to individuals who had successfully transitioned into corporate management roles, I realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do and I did not feel comfortable committing to an opportunity that I was not passionate about. Business school offers the perfect dynamic of academic rigor, cultural stimulation, and career development to enhance my leadership skills and improve my analytical abilities. Furthermore, the opportunity to learn and grow alongside a diverse group of driven young professionals is invaluable.

Why Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The most prominent factor in determining my school choice was the “feeling of fit” that I received when I spoke with current students and alums from my prospective schools. Every McCombs-associated individual that I conversed with—whether student, alum, admissions officer, or financial aid officer—provided genuine guidance and exuded a strong sense of pride in the program. Throughout the admissions process, this “feeling of fit” only intensified, and I remember exiting my interview at Rowling Hall realizing that I had smiled the entire time and I could plainly picture myself calling McCombs home for the next two years. The program prestige, academic and career opportunities, diversity and inclusion initiatives, cultural immersion programs, professional and social organizations, attractive location, longhorn network, and brand, and veteran support system were all just icing on the cake.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
My diverse perspective and my ability and willingness to relate to a wide range of individuals. I was raised in a mixed-race household in a diverse area of Los Angeles and was able to travel frequently throughout the country during my childhood. My undergrad institution and my military occupation demanded that I extrapolate these early experiences and cultivate my cultural fitness to effectively lead diverse teams. Now that I am at McCombs, I am excited to continue to grow in this area and contribute to impactful organizations like the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and Texas Veterans in Business.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
In Spring 2020, I developed an interest in gardening. I used to do tons of yard work as a kid and over the years I have helped family and friends with landscaping projects and contributed to community garden efforts. Most of my adult professional experiences have been very fast-paced and intense, so it’s really nice to zone out sometimes and be in a calm space. I also like the idea of growing something myself and making an area look attractive. My goal is to one day own property with a gardening area where I can experiment with different health foods.

Post-MBA career interests? 
Operations/supply chain role within a CPG or retail company dedicated to diversity and inclusion and global impact.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Network, network, network. Reaching out and expressing my interest in as many forums as possible helped me to gather a wealth of information and enabled me to communicate with people in the program throughout the entire process. I joined and posted in Facebook groups, participated in webinars, attended Inside the MBA events, and emailed and set up phone calls with current students. Basically, any event McCombs participated in, I did as well. All of the information gathered and contacts acquired provided substantial talking points in my essays and during my interview.

–One thing you would change or do differently?   
I put forth the requisite preparation and effort to realize my acceptance to McCombs (my number one choice), but, admittedly, my preparation and effort with other applications fluctuated. Having a more consistent approach to the entire application process would have enabled me to weigh my options more effectively.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
GRE math—a fair amount of studying and an undisclosed amount of divine intervention.

What is your initial impression of Texas McCombs’ students/culture/community?
Close-knit and prideful. Obviously, we are all here to engage in business and progress our careers, but safe social engagements and consistent virtual hangs are incredibly enjoyable and necessary to the fabric of the program. In addition, the administrative team has done an incredible job of adjusting to the circumstances and making our class feel welcome and engaged.

One thing you have learned about Texas McCombs that has surprised you? 
The level of proactive collaboration and the willingness of every student to offer time, energy, and assistance to help others is surprisingly much higher than I anticipated. Despite altering our lives while navigating a pandemic, I think we have all developed a legitimate interest in mutual success.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
Dealing with the excitement of living in Austin and meeting new people during a pandemic.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Meeting all the McCombies! Also, confirming if Tex-Mex actually lives up to the hype.

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.