Meet Notre Dame’s MBA Class of 2017

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business


In a world where options are often bad or worse, leaders are increasingly wondering, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ There are so many unknowns. And the temptations are always there: The ease of ignoring alternatives; the speed of taking shortcuts; the safety of looking the other way; and the comfort of avoiding commitment and action. As a result, Mendoza’s ethics-coated teachings are both a guide and a benchmark, a means to translate the dilemmas and soften the ripples that bedevil modern business.

For the Class of 2017, Mendoza provides a model for how business should be conducted, a vision for the future that graduates are entrusted to create. And this class believes it is up to the challenge. That’s why students like Benjamin Kingdon, a marketing agency CEO from WInnipeg, chose Mendoza in the first place. “I began with Stephen Covey’s strategy of starting with the end in mind,” he writes. “I knew I wanted to transition into the consulting industry and I understood that my passions were competing, winning, and problem-solving. However, I believe in the power of business as a force for good and a source for sustainable change. When I researched programs I learned about Notre Dame’s tradition of competition, winning, and academic excellence. In addition, I learned about its guiding principle, “Ask More of Business,” which paralleled my own values of success and serving the community.”

The unquantifiable nature of the Notre Dame experience also drew students like Louisville’s Benjamin Hota, a Marine Corps veteran who most recently worked in financial planning and budgeting at Humana. “The quality of character I encountered through my emails, telephone conversations, and interview visit amazed me,” he exclaims. “I could definitely tell that there was something going on here much greater than any one individual. It’s very easy to pick up on the sense of community at Notre Dame. People here don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk.” “I can’t describe it,” adds Will Moran, a Naval Academy graduate who re-located his family of seven to South Bend. “There’s just something about this place, and it’s very cool to be here. I feel so proud and excited every time I bring my family on campus, and my boys race to be the first one to see “The Golden Dome” through the trees. There’s definitely some future “Domers” in this family.”

The Golden Dome

The Golden Dome

Perhaps Jessie Sun, previously a product manager at the Bank of China, sums up the Notre Dame value proposition the best: “I chose this program not only to acquire knowledge, but also to chase a meaningful life.”


Not surprisingly, when it comes to what their graduation goals, many Mendoza first-years point to paying their blessings forward. “Giving back is something that is very important to me,” Hota shares. “First, I would like to increase awareness to veterans that business school is an excellent option. I believe that veterans possess skills that are extremely transferable to business (i.e. leadership, teamwork, and decision making).  Second, I would like to give back to future students. I want to give others the opportunity that I had with respect to finding out what the program is really about.  Lastly, I would like to give back to the local community.  This includes volunteering at a soup kitchen, spending time at a local community center, and organizing events that bring people together.”

Robert James Wine, on the other hand, hopes to strike that elusive balance in all areas of his career. “I want to achieve fluency in both the hard and soft skills of business. Effective leadership thrives where savvy interpersonal communication flows in congruence with solid technical knowledge. Furthermore, I want to understand how to strategically engage in corporate socially responsibly while maintaining successful wealth creation.”

Then again, Moran just wants to savor the moment, a reprieve to refresh and retool before heading back out to the workforce. “I wish there was a 3-year MBA! Perhaps the fact that I graduated from college 11 years ago gives me more perspective than some of the younger folks in that regard. Obviously, I’d like to use all of the many available resources to decide on a particular business concentration and find a great job. But my point is that I want to make the most of my short time at Notre Dame, and I can already tell that it is going to fly by way too fast.”

To read profiles of incoming Mendoza students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Benjamin Hota / Louisville, KY

Mohamed Kakay / Roanoke, VA

Benjamin Kingdon / Winnipeg, Manitoba

Will Moran / St. Louis, MO

Elizabeth Sadler / Hingham, MA

Jessie Sun / Nanjing, China

Joanna Tooker / Phoenix, AZ

Robert James Wine / Burkeville, VA

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