The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College has always been different. That’s by design. Tuck doesn’t seek to mimic its Cambridge cousins, let alone the mega-schools dotting the eastern seaboard. In rural Hanover, life moves slower and relationships run deeper. Forget the sharp elbows and hidden agendas of big cities. At Tuck, you play nice and share your toys. Staring out at the Georgian colonials nestled against the rolling hills of the Connecticut River Valley, you almost wonder if you stepped into a Norman Rockwell Christmas village. Coming to Tuck is like coming home. It is a family that you join, not just a place where you study.
You’ll find that family spirit among Tuck students, present and past. It is the defining quality of the school culture. The brochure may tout the fresh air of the great outdoors, but “Tuckies” zip up I-91 for the community. That’s right, they call themselves Tuckies without any hint of hipster irony or glee club fakery. It’s insider code for what the community values: genuineness, humility, teamwork, supportiveness, warmth, and intimacy. It is a far cry from New England’s reputation for being formal and insular. Instead, Tuck is a place for “the joiners,” in the words of Daniella Reichstetter, a ’07 grad and the executive director of entrepreneurship at the school’s Center for Private and Entrepreneurship. By joining the definitive small school experience, Tuck students are expected to don many hats, get involved with their classmates, and simply be nice.
FIRST YEAR NAMES HERSELF AFTER A FULL HOUSE CHARACTER
The Class of 2018 wouldn’t have it any other way. Far from being a fallback, Tuck is a destination. First years don’t need a period to adapt to the culture; they personify it when they arrive. Thus far, they have impressed administrators like Patricia Harrison, senior associate director, evaluation and admissions at Tuck. “While the students in Tuck’s class of 2018 are smart, accomplished and diverse, they’re so much more than what the stats reveal,” she notes. “In the short time that they’ve been on campus, we have noticed their humility and empathy in particular. They are open to ideas and experiences different than their own and seem acutely aware of how their actions impact others.”
No doubt, the class is as colorful as fall leaves in the upper valley. Erica Toews, a Stanford grad who studied creative writing, describes herself as a “vegetarian from California who owns too much tie-dye.” Her San Jose neighbor, Chethan Rao, is the archetypal career changer: “A fitness-crazy, foodie engineer looking to intersect tech entrepreneurship and investing with social impact.” Just let this one roll off your tongue a few times: “I am the reliably resourceful, receptive and responsible, rational and risk-taking Ramon.” That’s Ramon Fuentebella, who has already visited six continents and worked for Ernst & Young and Procter & Gamble.
At orientation, they had plenty of stories to swap. Montana’s H. Holland Davis started skiing when he was two years-old. Perhaps he could hit the slopes at the Dartmouth Skiway with Vedrana Greatorex, who was a member of the Croatian National Youth Ski Team. Muyambi Muyambi, a civil engineer, has biked across both the USA and Uganda. Dreaming of doing a karaoke duet? Hit up Jodine K. Gordon, whose go-to cocktail party story is once singing with Aretha Franklin. An even better one comes from Stephiney Y. Xie, who actually picked out her own name. “My family and I immigrated to New York from Shanghai, China when I was nine years old,” she explains. “Since I learned English by watching television series, I named myself after my favorite TV persona, Stephanie Tanner from Full House.” (Why not D.J.?)
BETTERING THE WORLD OF BUSINESS ONE STUDENT AT A TIME
In 2016, Tuck unveiled its new mission statement: “Tuck educates wise leaders to better the world of business.” The administration obviously had its eye on the Class of 2018 when formulating it. Just look at Daniel Marquez, a Colombia native who was instrumental in revamping PepsiCo’s supply chains as a rookie global procurement manager. With it came the reward of seeing his labor at the local store. “Enabling change and leading a transformation in a large organization requires earning others trust, a structured and data-based approach to problems, and the ability to motivate and work with others that are not part of your function or reporting line,” he observes. “Today, as I walk in the grocery store and look at some of the PepsiCo products I helped create, I am happy to see the result of the work I did during my time there.”
The class boasts other impact players whose labor has bettered the world of business. Gordon’s mission is “supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in underserved markets.” That inspired her to develop Mobilize Your Business, a mobile platform that enables immigrant entrepreneurs develop financial savvy by showing hem how to how to collect and analyze data. She went on to launch a fund that provided millions of dollars to aspiring entrepreneurs. Rao somehow designed a component for a Japanese supercomputer — despite no integrated circuit design experience — that he was able to patent. Rachel Phillips, who intends to disrupt the healthcare marketplace, saved her company over $700K after earning her six sigma black belt.
SERVICE IS THE BACKBONE OF THE TUCK DNA
Their contributions extend far beyond the business realm. Muyambi launched a social enterprise, Bicycles Against Poverty, that funded 2,000 bicycles so farmers could take their produce to market more easily. At the same time, Greatorex spearheaded an effort that raised over $30,000 to aid families suffering in the wake of ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. “Ultimately, we collected and shipped four metric tons of carefully selected, donated items on a cost-effective basis,” she says. “Getting the photos back of children dressed in warm clothing and shoes that we sent, or seeing some small relief on parents’ faces when they were given a baby carrier to help ease their journey was well worth the effort. It is bittersweet work when you realize that so much more is needed, especially things that cannot be shipped like dignity, education and safety.”
Service is a common thread across the Class of 2018. Before sporting Big Green, Xie clad herself in olive and sand fatigues. A West Point grad, she learned leadership from serving as a platoon leader and company commander in the U.S. Army, including a deployment in Afghanistan where she oversaw aerial delivery and ground operations in commands south and west of Afghanistan. For her performance, she earned the Department of the Army Transportation Officer of the Year Award in 2012, beating out 30,000 peers in the process after saving taxpayers over $95 million dollars during her service. Perhaps Xie could compare notes with Tuck’s Praveen Kopalle after holding the same associate dean role at the Defense Language Institute, where she directed language acquisition and military training for over 350 soldiers.
Impressive indeed! “We knew from their applications all of the ways in which our T’18s had bettered communities and organizations in the past through volunteering, teaching in low-income schools, advising on public policy, serving in the armed forces, founding non-profit organizations and so forth,” adds Harrison. “Now on campus engaging with one another, they’re well on their way to becoming the wise leaders that the world needs.”
TUCK TIES WHARTON FOR THE HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN IN CLASS
What’s the biggest news coming out of this year’s class? For one, Tuck continues to be a go-to school for professional women. This fall, a record 44% of the class is comprised of women, up 2% from the 2017 class — and an 11% increase from just three years ago. Even more, this number ties Tuck with Wharton for the best representation of women among top-tier MBA programs. This two point difference, however, comes at the expense of international students, which slipped from 32% to 30%. The same is true of U.S. minority representation, which also slid two points to 18%. Overall, Tuck ranks among the most family-friendly full-time MBA programs, with the percentage of committed students rising from 25% to 31%, including 5% with children.
Otherwise, the Class of 2018 represents business as usual at Tuck — as far as the numbers are concerned, at least. That’s a good thing. Like the previous class, they averaged a 717 GMAT, with the school average falling from 716-718 for the past seven years. At 680-750 in the mid-80% range, the average GMAT remain nearly identical to the 2017 Class as well. The same is true of students’ 3.5 average undergraduate GPA.
Go to next page to see 12 profiles of incoming Tuck students.