Meet Georgetown’s MBA Class of 2018

Members of the Class of 2018 at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business

Members of the Class of 2018 at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Five years ago, the Yale School of Management was a sleeping giant. It was blessed with an Ivy League pedigree, not to mention top-rated graduate programs in areas like medicine and law. The fundamentally-sound mid-sized program was geared towards global business curriculum, purpose-driven outlook, and a diverse cohort. After adding a charismatic dean in Ted Snyder in 2011, the program watched its fund-raising and applications skyrocket.


Six hours south of New Haven, you’ll find another sleeping giant that is just starting to come into its own: Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Just 30 years old, McDonough’s full-time MBA program is poised to make some noise thanks to the same attributes it shares with Yale SOM. Notably, McDonough integrates a celebrated international business focus with traditional Jesuit values of service and support. It has built synergies with Georgetown’s heralded law and foreign service programs. The school has also raked in $130 million dollars, along with boosting applications by 40% in recent years according to former dean David Thomas, who stepped down in August. Not to mention, the program is based in the heart of Washington, DC, which ranks among the livable cities in the United States — and rivals New York City and Silicon Valley for the most lucrative internship and employment opportunities.

That’s quite a proposition for applicants to ponder, says Shari Hubert, the associate dean of MBA admissions at McDonough, in a 2015 interview with Poets&Quants. “We think of ourselves as transforming students into global-ready managers who exhibit principled leadership that’s in service to business and society — that’s our mantra,” she explains. “What we hear from students who end up coming here and some of the reasons they are interested in coming, is caring for the whole person. We are big believers in being a successful leader today, you need to be culturally aware—even if you’re global at home.”

Prashant Malaviya

Prashant Malaviya

The Class of 2018 will only add to the growing momentum that McDonough is experiencing, which was punctuated by the 2015 graduating class enjoying a $7,000 pay increase over the previous year (not counting a $3,000 rise in sign on bonuses). “The Class of 2018 encompasses all we value at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business,” says Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean for MBA programs. “They are accomplished, yet humble. They value both success and contributing to the greater good. They are globally diverse — 75% have lived, worked, or studied abroad. And, they are ready to embark on a transformational two-year journey to learn and grow as part of our dynamic community.”


Dynamic is a good word for this class. Accomplished might be better one, however. John Westrand, a techie who majored in history, played violin at Carnegie Hall when he was 12 years old. During her stint in the Peace Corps, Rebecca Lila Arnold received a private audience with the Dalai Lama. Gershon Blyden caught the attention of ESPN and NBC after being featured in the documentary, From Ordinary to Extraordinary, which followed his training for his first Ironman competition. Milagro Aguinaga planned “destination weddings and extravagant vacations” for pro athletes and c-suite executives, while Kelsey Lents has partnered with NASA as part of a research and design firm she co-founded. Not to be outdone, Nomblé Coleman won an essay contest sponsored by CEIBS and the National Black MBA Association that resulted in a free trip to a pre-MBA boot camp in China, where she would toboggan along the Great Wall of China (notching a feature in Poets&Quants“MBA Prospect Wins Contest, Goes to China” — in the process.

The 2018 Class is equally accomplished in their early careers. Jeff Killian, a West Point grad and volunteer firefighter, describes his biggest accomplishment as “successfully training and advising over 750 Afghan Commandos while in command of a Special Forces Team in Afghanistan.” Navin Thawani headed Morgan Stanley’s collateral management division in New York City within three years of joining the firm, before eventually being promoted to the firm’s London office. Zhamilya Gafur was part of the team that introduced Ubur to her native Kazakhstan, while Arnold successfully launched the Peace Corps’ electronic medical records system. Before he turned 20, Calvin Alexander Cortes had turned his hobby of selling Disney collectables on eBay into a “global distribution network in Asian and European markets.” At the same time, Jeannie Goo took a college project, which provided support and networking to North Korean defectors, and made it into a business.

Georgetown MBA student

Georgetown MBA student

The incoming first years also come to the land of the Hoyas with distinct experiences and philosophies. Gafur, the daughter of a shepherd, describes herself as a “hustler and doer with international background in journalism, brand management, and business development.” Cortes is a “quirky, loud, social, foodie, craft beer geek, adventurous traveler, and a dog lover.” Aguinaga is certain to fit in at McDonough with her “insatiable curiosity for cultures and intellectual pursuits.” Similarly, Lents — “a multitude of personalities looking for one voice” — is undoubtedly this class’ Renaissance woman. Coleman has even gone so far as to turn her first name (Nomblé) into an acronym for who she is: “Not your average MBA candidate. Obstacle obliterator. Marketer. BeyHive member. Leader. Explorer.”


By the numbers, the incoming class personifies a ‘two steps forward and one step back’ proposition. After years of generating ever-increasing levels of interest, the number of applicants dropped from 2,034 in the 2014-2015 cycle to 1,890 this year. However, those numbers are still up 9% from applications for the 2016 Class, perhaps an indication that last year was a spike. That said, McDonough enrolled 287 students for 2018, up from 270 last year, resulting in a 34.5% acceptance rate.

Academically, GMAT averages remained steady at 692, though average GPAs dipped slightly from 3.4 to 3.37. However, the percentage of women continued to climb at McDonough, going from 31% to 34% in the past year. The number of International students also rose a point to 34%, with the school also reporting that 28% of the class comes from American minority populations. Overall, the class features students from 37 countries, including Australia, China, India, Thailand, Russia, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Nigeria, and Ghana.

Business and STEM were the most popular undergraduate majors for the 2018 Class, each accounting for 24% of students. That was a 5% drop for business and a 2% increase for STEM. Government and international studies (17%), engineering (14%), economics (12%), and humanities (10%) also take up significant blocs of the class. True to the school’s mission, the class is remarkably diverse professionally, with just 20% of students working in financial services before entering McDonough. They are followed by technology and new media (12%), consulting (11%), non profits and social sector (9%), government (8%), consulter goods and retail (7%), and manufacturing (5%).

Go to next page for profiles of 12 first year McDonough MBA students.

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