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Real Humans of MBA Students: USC Marshall MBA Class of 2023

usc mba class 2023

usc mba class 2023Nkem Nwogu, USC Marshall MBA Class of 2023

Age: 25
Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Emporia State University, Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3.5 years, Non-Profit/Government

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Prior to business school, while handling my full-time job, I was involved in a project that was geared towards building houses for people that were negatively affected by the senseless acts of terrorism in my home country. While handling this project that was very dear to me, I noticed that I had trouble smoothly switching hats between thinking like a social being who desired to see change and thinking like an entrepreneur who desired to effect change but not at the detriment of the organization. Given these issues and the various ones I encountered during the project, I felt that I needed to improve by business judgement and leadership skills. After some research, business school seemed to be the right move to make and thus far, I have zero complaints!

Why did you choose USC Marshall? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I think there is a special feeling that is experienced when you want to attend a school and you can tell that the school really wants you as well. That was my experience when I chose Marshall. Everything from the financial package I received to the engagement and outreach from the Marshall students and Admissions made it unequivocally clear to me that USC Marshall was going to be my destination. Even when I had to make the difficult decision of deferring my admission (because of the pandemic), the school was still very supportive of that decision and engaging throughout the year. Getting my MBA at Marshall truly counts as one of the biggest blessings of my life.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
This is a tough question! I’m not sure about “most valuable” contribution but I think the multicultural experiences I have had give me a unique perspective on life and my experiences and I’m of the belief that I would be doing my classmates (and myself) a disservice by not sharing parts of my culture and experiences with them. Having grown up in Nigeria, moved 6000+ miles away from my family at the age of 17 to study Economics in Kansas, switching to become an English teacher instead in a South American country while having zero knowledge about the people, culture and, most critically, the language, these experiences have shaped my perception of life and I’m glad to share that while I am here.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I can play 3 instruments! The recorder, the cymbals, and the triangle 😊 Feel free to laugh but these instruments, yes instruments, need some love too!

Post-MBA career interests:
Management Consulting

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
One thing that I would absolutely do again is reach out to current students and alumni both while you are deciding on a school and after you’ve decided. Reaching out to current students makes the application process easier and more engaging and, if you do it right, you just might have a bunch of friends before stepping foot on campus!  Furthermore, reaching out to alumni early on as well and scheduling informal coffee chats about careers you’re interested in really gets you ahead of the game in the internship hunt.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would definitely allocate more time to the GMAT. That exam is intense, and I dreaded every moment of my existence during that period of preparation. If I could go back in time and skip that exam (given that it’s optional now), believe me, I would.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Like I said above, the GMAT! Nevertheless, what helped me get through it were the happy thoughts of my sweet sweet freedom right after I was done with the test. I knew how critical this part of the entire application was to my entire package so I stayed focused on it but I was definitely relieved when I was done with it.

What is your initial impression of the USC Marshall students/culture/community?
I was really taken aback by how utter strangers could be so collaborative and connected when they didn’t even know one another’s names. I’m reminded of TAM Day that occurs during orientation. TAM Day is a day of friendly competition among cores. I don’t think I will forget how good it felt to work with my teammates and compete to win without having any idea who they were and what they were about. That experience alone reassured me that I was in the right place. Full disclosure – my core didn’t win but the friendly banter afterwards was fun!

What is one thing you have learned about USC Marshall that has surprised you?
Seeing firsthand the amount of planning and effort that the various departments such as Career Services, Admissions, and Academics put to ensure that the students start the first year on the right foot is something that really surprised me. You can just tell by being here that the school is rooting for your success and knowing that, you have more confidence to go for what you desire.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
As an international student, I had to defer my admission to business school for a year because of the pandemic. The 9-hour time difference along with online classes were just not appealing to me. Nevertheless, that “extra” year gave me the opportunity to connect more with the Marshall alumni and current students and further solidified my decision to come here for business school.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m anxious, but also excited, about how rigorous the program is and how I will go about balancing my time across various activities and commitments. I have a lot to learn during my time here but I’m glad to have a supportive environment to grow and improve in.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I was recently admitted into the Marshall Leadership Fellows Program, and I’m really excited to explore and work on my leadership style along with the other fellows. The two personal goals I wanted to achieve while at business school were to improve my business judgement and leadership skills. This fellowship will give me the opportunity to work on this and I can’t wait!

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: USC / Marshall

About the Author


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.

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