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Real Humans of Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2023

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johnson mba classIke Nwafor, Cornell Johnson’s MBA Class of 2023

Age: 26
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Stanford University, Biomechanical Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Spent two years as a biomedical engineer for SpectralMD, a medical device start-up, designing novel imaging systems. Most recently, 4th year medical student at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Medical training is an extremely robust education program that teaches you everything from the basic sciences to advanced clinical medicine. However, four years is a limited window and there are certain complementary skills I felt an MBA offered which would serve me well in my career as a physician leader. Several mentors of mine were advocates and felt the MBA would be a tremendous opportunity to explore interests outside of medicine, expand my network, and take on a new challenge.

Why did you choose Cornell? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Community. Before I even applied, so many students from Cornell Johnson, particularly the Class of 2021, were extremely generous with their time. They answered my questions honestly and offered their varied perspectives on the school. A common theme was community. Most of your time will be spent with your classmates and having a close-knit supportive community to share that journey with is essential. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
My intellectual curiosity. As an engineer, doctor, and now businessperson, I have always been curious as to how and why things happen. It allows me to question everything and play devil’s advocate. This will allow me to challenge myself and my classmates to dig deeper in our interactions as a cohort.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I love to travel and take photos! I’m eager to get back out there and see the world. 

Post-MBA career interests:
Investment Banking, Biotech

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
In a post-pandemic era, I would highly recommend visiting schools. It allows you to envision yourself on the campus. Unfortunately, this year many of us did not have that opportunity.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Get started on the essays early.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Nothing. The process was well worth it, and I wouldn’t miss out on a single aspect.

What is your initial impression of Cornell’s students/culture/community? 
Everyone is extremely bright and motivated, but also kind and open. There are so many resources at the university for you to take advantage of. “Elite, but Egalitarian” describes Johnson and Cornell well. 

What is one thing you have learned about Cornell Johnson that has surprised you?
How beautiful the scenery is here! I look forward to continuing to explore my surrounding area.  

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The Covid-19 pandemic has surely impacted the opportunity for in-person interactions throughout the application process, however the entire Cornell Johnson staff went above and beyond to ensure we had a smooth process and multiple points of contact. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m honestly just excited to move to Ithaca, New York and get started in the program with my new classmates. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited for a year of reflection and personal development that will hopefully be filled with plenty of new opportunities. 

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.