The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of UCI Merage’s MBA Class of 2022 » Page 2

Real Humans of UCI Merage’s MBA Class of 2022

Image for Real Humans of UCI Merage’s MBA Class of 2022

Alejandra Tostado, Merage MBA Class of 2022

Age: 27
Hometown: Santa Clara, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: San Diego State University; Majors: Sociology and Spanish
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I have 3 years of full-time work experience and worked for a Social Enterprise/Nonprofit in DTLA.

Why business school? Why now?
Business school has been a goal of mine since graduating from SDSU in 2017. I waited three years before applying because I wanted to gain real-life work experience to be sure of my next career move. I enjoyed growing professionally as an Operations Coordinator for a social enterprise and became interested in Operations/Supply Chain. I wanted to strategically position myself in a competitive way for the future and after researching various programs, an MBA from UC Irvine would open doors to great opportunities and its incredible alumni community.

Why UCI Merage? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
An MBA from Merage would give me an advantage as companies lack Latinx representation. Industries continue to change with new technology entering the market, but it is also changing in its diversity efforts. When obtaining my MBA, as a first-generation Queer Latina, identities like mine are not represented in MBA programs. In the 2017 U.S Census, 17.8% of the population were Latinx and the article, Fulfilling America’s Future (2015), states that Latinas make up one out of three women in the US with only 4% obtaining a master’s degree. This is an important asset in my professional growth since my identities are traditionally not represented in leadership roles. Being mission-driven, it is my duty to utilize my degree for the advancement of underrepresented communities and can represent diverse populations because of my intersectionality. Future employers need diverse employees to represent communities that are not invited to decision making spaces. It is also necessary for nonprofits to catch up to the private sector in technology, most importantly become data-driven to represent trends to uplift underrepresented communities. The Merage MBA degree will help me break the glass ceiling by gaining a wide range of knowledge and expanding my network.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
Class of 2022 entered this new journey in the middle of a pandemic and learning on an online platform. We have seen how various sectors have been affected and there is this fire that inspires us to learn and grow with each other to become better versions of ourselves once we receive our diploma in June 2022. This class is extremely diverse in gender, age, sexual orientation, economic background, and professional background. We take these differences as ways to learn from one another and apply them in the classroom. Future companies will search for leaders who are intelligent and inclusive, and the Class of 2022 is filled with them.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
My mom didn’t have the same opportunities as I did and for her, traveling was always something she loved. I have lived in Barcelona and visited more than 10 countries. Everywhere I travel, I remind myself of the sacrifices she made for me to have these opportunities.

Post-MBA career interests?
I am interested in Operations/Supply Chain and am thrilled to utilize my analytical skills

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

I would still give myself at least three years of work experience before applying to an MBA program because this helped me visualize what I wanted out of the program. My unique background in a social enterprise gave me an abundance of experiences that helped me talk about during my interview. I’d also advise applying for Forte, they provided me a lot of great knowledge on the application process.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would seek a mentor that had an MBA to help guide me on what to expect in an application process and areas I should focus on to make my application stronger.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
If you are a womxn of color applying for an MBA, don’t doubt yourself or the skills/experiences you could bring to the program. Apply to Forte if possible.

What is your initial impression of UCI Merage’s students/culture/community?
The culture at Merage is very unique as we don’t look at each other as competition, but rather seek each other for advice and mentorship. We see each other’s strengths and are not afraid to ask for help. The community feels like a family and it is felt with the alumni as well.

One thing you have learned about UCI Merage that has surprised you?
What surprises me about Merage is how selfless and helpful the alumni are. I have had the chance to meet various alumni at events and job fairs, and they are always willing to help or give advice about their journey at Merage.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
What made me anxious about my first year was feeding into imposter syndrome. My professional background and undergrad degree are very different than my peers and even though I knew this coming in, I still fed into the idea that I was behind in some areas. Luckily, Merage has an incredible staff that eased my transition and it also helped to get to know my peers. I realized that they have strengths and I do too, but ultimately we were all learning to navigate this program together.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited about my relationship with my classmates, of which some I already consider close friends. Another thing that excites me is to learn new analytical skills, specifically learning python this quarter.

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.