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Real Humans of Texas McCombs’ MBA Class of 2023

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texas mba class of 2023Cristian de la Rosa Torres, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2023

Age: 28
Hometown: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Notre Dame, Political Science
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Big 5 Sporting Goods HQ, Distributor, 3.5 years, retail.  Sony Pictures Entertainment, Digital Sales Planning Analyst, 1 year, entertainment.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I had worked for a few years at a Big 5 and I wanted to learn more and grow more. I know myself enough to know that I start to get antsy when I’m not working towards a new goal, whether professional or personal. I also knew that with my background – 20 years of competitive sports with minimal previous work experience – I needed an extra edge in order to put myself in the best position I could for my next job. The MBA was the best step on my career path. 

Why did you choose Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I had UCLA and USC as my top choices from the start since they were close to home. However, early on in my exploration of MBA programs, I met Jaden Felix at DMAC, the Diversity MBA Admissions Conference. Out of curiosity in the idea of going to school in Texas, I approached Jaden, discussed what opportunities were available at Texas, and came away with putting it as a top choice.  Something that really stuck with me was how genuine and welcoming Jaden was, which pulled me in. After doing more research, I just kept liking the school more and more. Being in Austin was definitely a large draw. The town was blowing up, seemed like a great place for a young, single person such as myself, with no shortage of things to do in and around Austin. Also, after going to school in the Midwest, I very much didn’t want to live in the cold again. A small thing that I appreciated was the website – it was much more user friendly, organized, and welcoming than I found other’s sites to be. I was also happily surprised to find that it was tied with USC and UCLA in the top 20.  Other than that, something I can’t really explain is that I felt drawn to the school, as if I had a gut feeling that this was where I should be. I am very grateful to Jaden for initially getting me interested in the program and I am very happy I went with my gut feeling to come to this school. It’s only been two and a half months and I am already having the time of my life.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of these two years bring.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Playing sports all my life, I have the utmost appreciation of teamwork and culture. They can be detrimental or key to the team’s success.  It can also be changed from the ground up. Culture is what you invest in the space you’re in and requires effort. Knowing that, and being driven by that, I strive to make sure that the culture here at McCombs is all inclusive with the foundation built on support for your fellow classmates and being someone that others can count on.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I am 6’6″ while no one else in my family is over 6′ tall. 

Post-MBA career interests:
Consulting, ideally in the energy space, but happy to start out as a generalist. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
Be yourself. I heard it said that going to work for 20 years playing the part of someone else will be exhausting so why not just be yourself. I’ve learned to embrace my weirdness within the last couple of years and it has made life more fun and my friendships stronger. Life is easier and more fun when you can be yourself. I also recommend watching the TEDx Talk called Embrace Your Weirdness by Chris Williamson from TEDxNewcastleUniversity.  It really helped me  break out of my shell. 

–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Attend MBA conferences. This is a great way to learn more about the programs from the admissions officers themselves and to ask them questions.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Apply through The Consortium. That DMAC conference I attended was put on by The Consortium, but I hadn’t heard about it by that time and was already considering applying to a couple other diversity groups similar to The Consortium. Fast forward to getting into McCombs, Jaden nominated me into The Consortium upon offering acceptance into McCombs and I couldn’t be more grateful. The community of people in The Consortium here at McCombs is very strong and full of amazing people. We were also close with each other from day one of arriving to campus because of what we had done over the summer. I also met a few of my best and closest friends through The Consortium who I see pretty much every day. Jaden, if you’re reading this, I don’t know how I can ever thank you for nominating me to be part of this amazing community. I will be forever grateful. If I had any insight into how awesome this community would be, I would have applied to Consortium when I first sent in my applications.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT.  If other people before me could do this, why can’t I?

What is your initial impression of the Texas McCombs students/culture/community?  
My initial impression is one of support and of drive toward a common goal of success of the group. I remember hearing about how both The Consortium and the MBA class as a whole is where you will be surrounded by support and you will build your new family. I was ready to experience that but I also didn’t know how much that was just marketing and trying to sell me on a certain school. I have to say, at least at McCombs, I have been blown away and happily surprised with how true the idea of “building a new family” really is. I have already built such strong relationships here and it hasn’t even been 3 months since I moved here. I am surrounded by people I know I can count on and who will offer me support whenever I need it. My friends and family are the most important things in my life, so to have another family here at McCombs means the world to me. 

What is one thing you have learned about Texas McCombs that has surprised you?
The dedication of the professors to make sure we learn the material, no matter what grade we get in the class, as well as how open they are about how much they care about us understanding the material and are ready for the next level class. Professor Hahn, who teaches core finance, and Professor White, who teaches core accounting, are two of the first professors you will have in this program and they make their classes an open space to ask any question you need to ask and they will walk you though the answer to make sure you understand. Having those professors teach some of the hardest subjects helped make those subjects seem less stressful. Knowing that they were there for us, the ample amount of office hours both professors had, and the way they made the class applicable to the real world made the classes better.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
I had applied and was accepted to be part of the Class of 2022, but COVID hit soon after I had my interview for Round 2. I ended up getting the offer for my new job on a Thursday and then the call about my acceptance to UT the next day. I was able to get a year of really valuable experience before starting the MBA program. And I am able to do my program in person, which is why chose to defer. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Landing my internship. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The friends I have made along the way and the memories we will make in these next two years.

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.