The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024 » Page 4

Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Image for Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Dina Gazayerli, Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Age: 33
Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
Undergraduate Institution and Major: American University in Cairo, Bachelor of Business Administration (with Honors), minor Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 12 years – Business Development, Financial Planning and Analysis, Project Finance and Syndication, Entrepreneurship

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I always intended on pursuing my MBA, but I wanted to ensure that I was doing it at the right time, when I was ready for it, to ensure that I would be able to gain the most from the experience, but also be able to add value and bring unique and meaningful contributions to the class. After being fortunate to have gone through many interesting experiences over the years (personal, professional, volunteer, and others), I decided that it was time to embark on my MBA journey!

Why did you choose Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
For me, it was always primarily about the culture, the people and the fit. Everyone has the power to change the world, utilizing strengths and resources available to create opportunities. The Booth MBA will allow me to meet hundreds of like-minded students coming from unique backgrounds, fostering a collaborative environment for us to share experiences and learn from each other, as we trailblaze through life, finding innovative ways to solve complex problems, changing lives every step of the way. I am very grateful to my friend Ahmed Dessouky who set me on the path towards Booth. 

The flexible curriculum and diversity, paired with Booth’s stellar global network provides a robust international foundation with insight into different cultures. Booth’s “Chicago Approach” will teach me the science behind designing data-driven solutions. Learning how to walk into any pitch room and speak to investors about the unique economics of the business model through “New Venture Challenge” and classes like “Hacking for Defense” and “Structure: Markets and Organizations”, will provide me with a relevant toolkit for success specifically tailored to my needs.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
My energy, and my years of multicultural exposure and diverse international experience give me a unique perspective and approach to any situation. Also, they say the best way to win a person’s heart is through their stomach, and I’m a pretty decent cook, so if all else fails, at least I have that. 😉

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I started figure skating about 2 years ago, and it’s been an interesting journey – although I’m still only just getting started! I love anything that gets your adrenaline pumping…and inspiring people to push past their comfort zones to explore something new always makes me happy. Last week on a Booth related trip to Costa Rica, I went ziplining, canyoning, repelling down a mountain + waterfall, and learned how to surf! It was amazing!

Also, as of recent I am the Co-Founder and CEO of a startup working to produce a green, clean, healthy alternative to plastic that will have a net positive impact on the environment and hopefully contribute to a healthier and safer planet!

Post-MBA career interests:
Private Equity/ Venture Capital / Entrepreneurship… but that may evolve or change as I go through this journey and gain exposure until new possibilities.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Seriously talk to as many people as you can from within the community, preferably different parts of the community and really make sure you have a good feel for the culture and community because that is the biggest thing you’ll gain from the experience. Between current students, alumni, Full Time, part time, executive program – I reached out to more than 20 people at Booth, some of which were in my personal network, but most of them weren’t, and I found them either through LinkedIn or the school’s website. There is not a single person who didn’t answer me, and most of them were willing to spend hours answering questions and following up a few days later to make sure there isn’t anything else I might need help with. Some of them are now very good friends of mine who I might not have even met if I hadn’t just taken the initiative to reach out and ask for a few minutes of their time to have a chat.

What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have spent more time over the summer traveling, relaxing and enjoying life. Slowing down and recharging before you jump into this super-fast pace marathon is very important – a luxury I didn’t have but I wish I did. And take your time researching the classes you want to take in advance so you’re not scrambling at the 11th hour trying to figure out what classes to apply to like I currently am. 

What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The application process including GMAT/GRE prep and testing. I knew it was a necessary means to the end I wanted, which was my continuous motivation and drive. That being said, I realized that in filling out the application, I was reminded of a lot of experiences and accomplishments that I’d forgotten about over the years, and I was forced to dig deep and do a lot of introspection and self-reflection, to really understand what I wanted to get out of the MBA.

What is your initial impression of the Chicago Booth students/culture/community?
Every member the Booth community I’ve reached out to has shared a unique account of how Booth has been a transformative experience for them, with no two paths alike. The one thing they all have in common is their gratitude towards the experience and the support system they have within the Booth and UChicago network, which is second to none. From day 1 you really feel like you are part of a family, and everyone is willing to jump in and lend a hand, whether it’s moving furniture between buildings, providing impromptu into sessions advising on anything and everything you can imagine, tips about life in Chicago, or arranging events etc. It’s great! 

What is one thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
The fact that despite it having such a diverse student base in every way possible, there are very obvious similarities within the community. Everyone affiliated with Booth is definitely a high achiever, but also a very kind and genuine individual who will go out of their way to help and support one another without hesitation no questions asked. Remember the iconic Friends phrase “custard: good, jam: good, meat: goooood?” While I’m not exceptionally eager to try Rachel’s “Traditional English Trifle,” Joey nailed the concept. The result of combining an unusual set of diverse ingredients must be better than each ingredient on its own. Booth is a melting-pot for diversity-driven creativity, where everyone comes together to forge limitless possibilities for designing innovative user-centric solutions.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Figuring out how to prioritize and be very selective on the things I commit to, so that I don’t miss out on the experiences I’m looking forward to, but also don’t spread myself too thin. I can already see many sleepless nights ahead, but I’m sure it’ll be well worth it!

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I don’t think I can cut it down to just one thing – I’m excited about it all! It’s a once in a lifetime adventure that I can’t wait to start! Definitely the opportunity to meet and become friends with such an amazing and diverse group of people, who will challenge my thoughts and broaden my perspective as we go through the journey together, and the thought-provoking classes with world class professors that will introduce me to new concepts and theories are among the things I am most looking forward to. And of course, the trips!

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how? 
It made taking the GRE a much more challenging and stressful experience than it already is, but thankfully I managed to do OK in the end.

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.