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Real Humans of the Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2025

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Samyuktha Ravi, Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2025

Age: 32
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Pittsburgh, neuroscience
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): Senior associate in clinical operations and research and development within the pharmaceutical/biotech industry, three years; senior clinical research scientist and coordinator in neurology, six and a half years

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
During an internship in a neurology clinic in India, I was devastated to witness patients who had to travel over four hours to visit a doctor. Five years later, when I worked with patients in rural Pennsylvania, I was surprised to see similar disparities: a prevalence of untreated disease due to a lack of reliable healthcare access. For years, I organized fundraisers and set up free patient services, but without systemic change, such initiatives are merely a Band-Aid solution. I knew that in order to effect this change, I needed a better understanding of the business of health care. I decided to pursue an MBA in order to gain the tools I need to drive change in the field of health care through integrated solutions. My aspiration is to transform health equity from being an idea we work toward to becoming a global standard. 

Why did you choose Cornell Johnson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
During my research, I was initially drawn to Cornell Johnson’s academics. From the incredibly valuable hands-on immersions to the opportunity to take any graduate-level Cornell course to supplement my education, I was impressed with the quality and range of education I would receive during my two years at Johnson. The location and relatively small class size were also important to me since I was looking for a fully immersive MBA experience. Ithaca has the perfect environment for students to focus on personal growth and building meaningful bonds with peers. A class size of less than 300 further facilitates the close-knit community I was looking for in an MBA program. 

Most importantly, my biggest reason for choosing Cornell Johnson was the people. I had the opportunity to meet several students, alumni, faculty and staff during the application process. With each interaction, I felt more at home and more eager to become a part of the Johnson community. Each member of the Johnson community carries with them a genuine desire to create a supportive and inclusive environment wherever they go. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2025?
I have over 10 years of experience in various aspects of the healthcare industry. I have worked with patients, led research projects, been active in patient advocacy, worked in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry, and been a caregiver to family members. I have seen and navigated the healthcare industry from various perspectives. My hope is that I can bring my perspectives and experiences in health care to Johnson and not only help enrich classroom discussions but also contribute to the growth of Johnson’s presence in the field of health care.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I was a caregiver for my grandparents, particularly my grandfather, who had late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The fun fact here is that the only person my grandfather truly remembered until the very end was my grandmother. He thought I was just a nice girl who helped him with things and would tell me that he would put in a good word with my manager.

On a serious note, it was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life, and it taught me resilience, empathy, communication, patience, and the meaning of community. I also gained a very realistic viewpoint of the gaps in our current healthcare system, especially for the marginalized and aging populations. My experience of caregiving and the experiences of my grandparents with limited access to health care inspire me to work on democratizing the landscape of health care.

Post-MBA career interests:
Healthcare strategy consulting

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would absolutely reach out to current students and alumni again during my application process. Coming from a non-business background, I had many blind spots regarding the application process and what to look for in a business school. The students and alumni I connected with provided me with invaluable advice on the application process, interview strategy and practice; preparing for the quantitative aspect of business school; and how to make the most of my MBA experience. They provided the most authentic insight into Cornell Johnson and effectively influenced my decision to come here. I still keep in touch with them, and they have, in a way, become mentors to me.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?cornell johnson mba students
I would start the process earlier. I would focus on completing the standardized exam first and then commit more time to connecting with and talking to current students and alumni. The conversations I had were incredibly helpful to me in crafting my essays, and having these conversations earlier and for a longer period of time would have helped me approach my essays with more clarity and confidence.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
If possible, I would have skipped the period of hesitation I had before jumping into preparing my application and taking the GRE/GMAT. I would have started with the confidence that the application process is a learning process and that I will get through it as long as I remain sincere about my goals and the schools, I am interested in. I was able to get through it with a lot of pep talks from my mentors, family and friends. I also constantly reminded myself of the incredible opportunities that I would gain and how they would prepare me for my goals and the impact I wish to make.

What is your initial impression of the Cornell Johnson MBA students/culture/community?
My favorite thing about Cornell Johnson is the people. During my first visit to campus, I was kindly invited to join a Women’s Management Council social and had the opportunity to meet so many intelligent, empowering, supportive women. They welcomed me warmly and shared their experiences and advice with me. They were so excited about each other’s success and were so proud of one another’s journeys. Most importantly, it was so clear that Johnson is full of people who are genuinely passionate about making an impact.

What is one thing you have learned about Cornell Johnson that has surprised you?
The sheer breadth of resources available to students. There are so many avenues of guidance to help students reach their goals. The administration is also actively working to enhance the MBA experience by bringing more robust opportunities and resources to the Johnson students. I am also pleasantly surprised by how much students are involved in shaping the Johnson experience. Our input and feedback are taken seriously, and we can work with the administration to drive and implement the changes and growth we want to see.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about making meaningful use of my time here and of the numerous resources and opportunities available to me. As I mentioned earlier, Johnson has so much to offer its students, and two years isn’t nearly enough time to experience everything. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am most excited to meet new people, hear their unique stories and learn from all the various perspectives and experiences they bring. I’m also really excited about Ithaca in the fall — I hear the fall colors are gorgeous here!

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.