Meet The Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2019

Jaclyn Le 

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business  and LBJ School of Public Affairs (Master of Public Affairs) 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Obscure sports lover. A cappella music fan. HGTV enthusiast. Passionate about education and creating social change.

Hometown: Irving, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an avid tennis fan! Watching tennis turns me into a crazy, loud, and aggressive version of myself that would probably surprise most people. It’s on my bucket list to get to all four of the tennis majors.

Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University; Political Science

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • The Wallace Foundation, Program and Research Analyst (New York, NY)
  • The Boston Foundation, Education Program Fellow (Boston, MA)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At The Wallace Foundation, I worked on a 12-person team that included researchers, communications experts, and program consultants. We designed and implemented a national initiative to expand summer learning opportunities to children in five urban school districts. I helped to design a new strand of the initiative that focused on helping nonprofits and school districts with sustainability planning so that programs could become more financially and politically stable even after grant funding ended. I’m really proud of this work – not only because it was the result of interdisciplinary collaboration on our team – but also because it was a co-created process with the practitioners in the field. Not many funders focus on what happens to their grantees after their funding ends, and many nonprofits and school districts do not have the time or resources to plan for sustainability. This initiative encouraged everyone to be proactive about sustainability and also pushed the foundation to support its grantees in a way that it had never done before. Ultimately, tens of thousands of children can continue to receive high-quality summer learning opportunities because these programs are secure.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? I’m sure there are many resources that can offer tips on the GMAT, writing essays, etc. My one piece of advice may sound a bit cliché, but I think it is the foundation for success in the application process. I encourage all prospective students to take this entire experience as an opportunity for self-discovery. The more you know yourself, your values, and your goals, the more successful you will ultimately be. Give yourself time to do some serious introspective work so that you know what is most important to you (both personally and professionally) and why you truly want to go to business school.

Before I ever sat down to study for the GMAT or to write an essay, I spent months and months talking to trusted advisors who knew me best and could challenge my thinking or help me confirm that business school was the right choice for me. I also talked to a lot of people who I admired in my field and probed about their career path, including why or why not an MBA might be the right choice for me. It was so helpful to gather information from many different people and use their insights as a barometer for assessing my own values and goals. By the time I actually started to go through the steps of applying to business schools, I had a very solid vision of why I wanted to go to business school and could articulate to others how getting an MBA fit into my broader professional narrative.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? It was very important to me to get an interdisciplinary educational experience. I loved that the full-time MBA at McCombs not only provided invaluable learning opportunities within the program, but also gave students a lot of flexibility to design and customize their own experiences. As a top research university, UT Austin offers so many resources, and McCombs encourages students to take classes in other fields such as policy, design, and energy. Because my interests lie at the intersection of the public and private sectors, the city of Austin serves as a great learning lab where I can see and understand how the business community participates in the policy process. UT Austin, and McCombs in particular, offers a dynamic learning environment that is unmatched.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? After my first year of business school, success for me would consist of three things: 1) developing strong relationships with my classmates; 2) challenging myself to stretch outside of my comfort zone on a consistent basis; and 3) maintaining some balance in my life between school, friends, and family.

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