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Real Humans of SMU Cox’s MBA Class of 2024

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smu cox class of 2024Jon Serrell, SMU Cox MBA Class of 2024

Age: 37
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Undergraduate Institution and Major: United States Naval Academy – B.S. in Ocean Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 14 years, United States Navy

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Our family decided business school provided the best opportunity to build a foundation of new skills and meaningful relationships.  In the short term, business school will undoubtedly help build on my leadership and analytical skills that are directly transferable to my future assignments within the Navy.  In the long term, I’ll have the knowledge and confidence to enable a smooth transition from the military to begin our next chapter.

Why did you choose SMU Cox? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I’m very fortunate to be an MBA Candidate with the class of 2024.  First and foremost, our extended family lives in North Texas and we jumped at the opportunity to have our kids grow up close to family.  SMU Cox was our family’s top choice for several reasons including the school’s outstanding reputation, its foundational pillars (leadership, analytics, experiential learning), small class size, robust network, and its strategic location within the DFW metroplex.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I’ll bring a perspective that is different from most of the business professionals within the Class of 2024.  Although I have no background in business, I do have extensive experience leading small teams, macro & micro planning to achieve an objective, contingency management, risk analysis/management, stress tolerance and the ability to work under pressure, and resiliency when faced with adversity.  Although my experiences may not be directly transferable, they will help provide the class both perspective and a foundation to further grow within the SMU Cox program.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
Our family are huge Dallas sports fans.  We are thankful to be back in town and look forward to going to the games!

Post-MBA career interests:
I’ll continue to serve within the Navy and look forward to serving as a Commanding Officer.  Once our time in the military comes to an end, we will return to Dallas and begin the next chapter in our lives within this great community.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Research. Including having conversations with the SMU Cox admissions team, current students, and alumni.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have applied sooner!

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Our family moved back to Texas at the height of the housing market in spring of 2022.  Finding a home was a difficult process, but we stayed patient and fortunately found a great place to live while going to SMU Cox.

What is your initial impression of the SMU Cox students/culture/community?
The culture within SMU Cox is exactly what you want from a top business school.  The students and professors have diverse backgrounds and experiences that make for an ideal learning environment. Additionally, the SMU Cox program is both challenging and supportive which helps us all grow collectively. For example, SMU COX continuously brings in leaders from the broader business community to both inspire and provide relevant information.

What is one thing you have learned about SMU Cox that has surprised you?
The 100+ years of SMU COX history is very interesting and something that I wasn’t aware of prior to beginning the application process.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Deciding which concentration to pursue is one of the most challenging and important decisions I’ll have to make this year.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
The SMU COX Scholars global initiative trip in the Spring of 2024.

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.