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Real Humans of MBA Students: Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2023

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vanderbilt mba class of 2023Kelsey Tabor, Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Williamstown, Massachusetts
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Miami; Public Relations & Advertising
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years; Media Consulting 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Earning my MBA had been a goal of mine since undergrad – I knew that going to business school would help me to become more proficient in a wider variety of business contexts. My professional leadership experience served invaluable in equipping me with a stronger sense of initiative and focus, and it felt like the most ample time to cultivate and continue to advance my skillset.

Why did you choose Vanderbilt Owen? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Choosing Vanderbilt was quite honestly a no-brainer. I knew I wanted to fully immerse myself in business school and I was looking for a more intimate learning environment, where I could connect and form relationships with my classmates and professors that would last well beyond graduation day. I was confident that Owen’s hands-on approach to education would be transformative to my professional development.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
My enthusiasm, interpersonal skills and collaborative mindset have each been contributing attributes in my ability to form natural and authentic connections with the people around me. Creating a supportive atmosphere where my classmates feel comfortable enough to share a diverse range of perspectives is vital. I believe that my ability to effectively foster a supportive environment with my classmates will make for an invaluable contribution to the Class of 2023. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
When I was in 6th grade, I competed on a statewide Lego Robotics competition.

Post-MBA career interests:
Consulting, specifically Human Capital.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Having conversations with current students was one component of the application process that I enjoyed most. I was fortunate to have two incredible conversations with current Owen students, both of which played a major role in solidifying my decision to choose Vanderbilt. I would implore all perspective students to speak with as many current students possible. Choosing the right MBA program is such a monumental decision and those conversations can be so beneficial.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
During the application process, it’s really easy to compare yourself with other applicants at your target schools. In an effort to be the “perfect” applicant on paper, there were definitely times I almost neglected to let my authentic personality shine through. My advice to future applicants is to avoid comparing yourself and really focus on highlighting your most unique attributes and core values throughout your application. Be confident in explaining exactly what you bring to the table. While your test scores and GPA are contributing factors to the admission committee’s decision, they’re also looking for someone who’s going to make a valuable contribution to their community. 

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Studying and taking the GRE was hands-down the most taxing part of the application process for me. Thankfully, I had the support of an amazing tutor – who would wake up at 6am every morning to work through problems with me over Zoom. She often reminded me that I was not defined by a test score and encouraged me to instead focus on my application holistically. Her unwavering encouragement played a huge role in my success helped remove some of the pressure on I’d put on myself. For future applicants, no matter which part of the application process you find most challenging, it’s imperative you have an encouraging support system – someone who’s undoubtedly in your corner. 

What is your initial impression of the Vanderbilt Owen students/culture/community?
One of the things I noticed right away about Vanderbilt Owen’s community is the diverse range of cultural, academic, and professional backgrounds its students hail from. I have classmates that have served as officers in the military, classmates that have spearheaded political campaigns, and classmates that own and operate their own companies. The breadth of knowledge and unique experience within the Owen student body is truly unmatched, and I genuinely feel honored to be a part of such an impressive cohort.

What is one thing you have learned about Vanderbilt Owen that has surprised you?
I’d say I’m most surprised by how incredibly encouraging and helpful Owen’s alumni network is as current students, Owen places such an emphasis on collaboration and intercommunity support – but it’s been especially affirming to see that that notion extends well beyond graduation day.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m mostly just excited to learn! Of course, within the classroom, there are a number of incredible professors and courses offered here at Owen. But I’m also but I’m eager to learn outside the classroom and try and absorb knowledge from the remarkable array of students I’m surrounded by.

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.