Meet Georgetown McDonough’s MBA Class of 2019

Some of the MBA students in the Class of 2019 at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

“Cura Personalis” is a core tenet of Jesuit education. Translated, it means “care for the whole person.” Think of it as a call to service. It demands that students be present in the moment. And it extends far beyond simply watching out for others. It is an openness to their perspectives and a commitment to bringing their gifts to light. It is the daily embrace of the spirit, to inspire, comfort, and lighten the loads of others — if only for a moment. Even more, Cura Personalis also carries a deeply personal duty: To bring out the best in others, students must also tend to themselves through discipline and reflection. That means fortifying the flesh, nourishing the mind, and purifying the soul.

This value also serves as the cornerstone of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, where management is ministry — and a global one at that. This pledge to develop the whole person, coupled with its intense global focus and DC locale, made McDonough a tantalizing choice for several members of its incoming full-time MBA class.


“The institution is situated, both functionally and physically at the intersection of the private and public sectors,” explains Dave Mitchell, a Deloitte consultant from the health care industry. “As the consequences and interconnectedness of business and policy decisions on the national and global scales continue to grow, I believe it has become essential for business decision-makers to have a holistic understanding of both sectors and also to act in a manner consistent with respect for the needs and well-being of others. The McDonough School of Business is uniquely able to deliver an experience that develops leaders like this, who are equipped for success that creates positive shared value in society. That’s the experience I wanted in business school.”

Georgetown McDonough Students

Sean Kumar, a rock guitarist and award-winning performer at Ernst & Young, was also attracted to the holistic natural of the McDonough experience, which fuses business fundamentals with social responsibility.“Business leaders have an obligation to advance society and I respect the significance Georgetown puts on community outreach and global standards,” he states. “Given the intersection of my beliefs and McDonough’s mission, I think the school is a great fit.”

No surprisingly, a class coalescing around the common good naturally brings a certain esprit de corps to campus. Ugochinyere Okwu-Lawrence noticed an immediate difference during the recruiting process. She found the community’s responsiveness to be “unmatched,” with students often furnishing tips like the best places to live or how to find her way around DC. “Of all the schools that I was admitted into,” she notes, “Georgetown was the one that I felt truly had the collaborative community that most schools boast about…The people here are brilliant and I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by people who have accomplished such amazing things during the course of their careers, but yet are so humble and willing to help each other out. There is no competition. Everyone genuinely wants to see the whole class achieve success, and that is really rare in the business school world.”


The Class of 2019 is certain to be a memorable one. Hailing from 38 countries, the 276-member class has studied everywhere from The Citadel to Iran’s Sharif University of Technology. And their resumes boast all the big names: JP Morgan, KPMG, CNN, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Oh, and how is this for a resume? Texas’ Ximena Gonzalez Rojas climbed from being a director in the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama to the Chief of Staff for Presidential Personnel in the White House, where she spearheaded several initiatives to boost diversity and inclusion at the highest levels.

It is a class that closely aligns with McDonough’s mission. Jennifer Rose Schwartz describes herself as a “thinker who loves to learn and believes that ideas can change the world.” She is joined by Benjamin Mackey, “a passionate servant leader,” and Celeste Ho, an “adventurous traveler, perpetually curious learner and storyteller.” When it comes time for the school’s acclaimed Global Business Experience, class members may be wise to pair up with Gabriela Borray, a “world traveler with a big heart who genuinely believes in the power of a smile.”

Even more, the Class of 2019 personifies McDonough’s emphasis on attracting well-rounded professionals. This class, in particular, is rather artistically gifted. As a child, Schwartz appeared on programming ranging from One Life to Live to Saturday Night Live. Irene Ou is a classically trained pianist who has performed around the world, while Timm Hwang can play both violin and electric bass. Then again, the class may want to check their radios soon for Kumar, a triple threat who writes, plays, and produces his own music. “Before moving to DC, I worked on a new single that will be released this fall,” he gushes.

Georgetown University’s McDonough School

The achievements don’t stop there. As a FOX Business Network producer, Schwartz booked legendary leaders ranging from Warren Buffet to Elon Musk. Amir Pilehvar will come to Georgetown quite familiar with the hot seat. After six years on the job, he was named executive vice president of the largest provider of internet services to Iranian consumers. If you want to know about pressure, ask Hwang about the time when he had to clean up the books for a publicly-traded company that was a year late in producing its annual report. “The client had failed accounting systems, significant turnover, and multiple instances of incorrect accounting,” he recalls. “My team had less than five months to get current on the audit of their financials or the company would face de-listing from their stock exchange and risk severe fines that could lead to bankruptcy. I effectively led a talented team in meeting the company’s tight deadlines and ensure continuity of their business.”


The class also comes with its share of heartwarming stories too. Take the experience of Ho, who helmed the marketing and communications efforts of the Ready to Learn grant program for PBS KIDS, whose educational content targets poor communities. She took quiet satisfaction when parents would write to tell her how the program would boost their children’s confidence and love for learning. Such letters were all the more powerful for Ho because of where she started in life. “PBS KIDS played an important part in helping me learn English when I first moved to the United States as a child,” she admits. “Little did I know that I would one day get the opportunity to work for the same grant that funded some of my favorite childhood shows, including Dragon Tales. Talk about coming full circle!”

By the numbers, the 2019 Class was a mixed bag. The number of applications dropped from 1,890 to 1,742 this year, resulting in 11 fewer students in the incoming class. At the same time, the acceptance rate rose from 43.9% to 47.8%, meaning 2019 students had nearly a 1-in-2 shot of getting into the program. Despite fewer applications, the average GMAT and GPA remained unchanged from the previous year at 692 and 3.37 respectively. Demographically, the percentage of women also slipped from 34% to 32% — a percentage that remained higher than competing programs like Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and Emory.

The biggest change, however, involves the composition of the incoming class. This year, 30% of the class studied business as undergrads, up 6% over the previous year. STEM majors, which tied with business last year for the largest segment of the class, also climbed to 25%. By the same token, the number of students who majored in government and international studied fell four points to 13%, while economics majors rose three points to 15%. Humanities remained relatively steady at 9%. Professionally, the largest bloc of students again came from finance at 20%. Beyond that, the class is segmented into an extremely diverse subset of industries. Consulting represents 15% of the class (up 4%) and government takes up another 11% (up 3%). In contrast, technology and new media tumbled from 12% to 8% over the past year, as nonprofits slid three points to 6%. Technology (8%) and consumer products (7%) also encompass substantive slices of the class.

Go to page 3 for profiles of 12 first-year McDonough MBA students.

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