Meet UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2019

Jorge Santana 

UCLA, Anderson School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Mexican-born, New York City-raised champion for human capital development, technology, social impact and educational equity.

Hometown: Millburn, New Jersey

Fun Fact About Yourself: In the summer of 2016, I went shark cage diving near Seal Island off the coast of South Africa, one of the most densely populated areas of great white sharks in the world.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Princeton University (Bachelor of Arts in economics)

City University of New York – Lehman College (Master of Science in education)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

New York City Department of Education – Bilingual teacher

Achievement First – Leadership Fellow

Teach For America – New York

- Director, Teacher Leadership Development

- Managing Director, Programs

- Managing Director, External Affairs

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my first year working at Teach For America – New York in 2011, I designed and piloted a leadership development Fellowship to hone the leadership dispositions of a small cadre of teachers and enhance their impact in school communities. This program was structured around experiential learning and group dynamics as opposed to the direct one-on-one coaching my team focused on previously.

The results of the first semester of the program were strong and over the subsequent four years, the Fellowship grew in popularity, scope and size. More resources were invested in the program and (as of today) the Fellowship has expanded to develop more than 400 teachers, becoming one of the most significant undertakings the organization leads in New York City. Teach For America – New York teachers are either nominated or apply to participate and the program serves as a catalyst to complement the training educators receive from their coach. I am proud not only of the Fellowship’s impact on teachers and the broader organization, but of its longevity. A group of dedicated full-time program staff now serve as the team responsible for its implementation and when I became the head of Programs in Manhattan, my team applied various components of the Fellowship to our work functions.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Don’t underestimate the value of self-reflection and being clear on what your motivations are! Before you start the application process, schedule times to meet with people you trust and who can offer valuable perspective (a mentor, colleagues, your manager, business school alumni, family and friends) to discuss why you want to pursue an MBA. I found that speaking with people who know me well and having them ask me tough questions about my motivations challenged me to articulate what I wanted to accomplish with an MBA very clearly.

Then, make a date with yourself: spend a morning or afternoon at a local coffee shop, park or someplace that inspires you to reflect on these conversations and write down where you see your life going and how an MBA can enable you to get there. Not only will this exercise give you more clarity on why attending business school is the right path for you, your reflections can also serve as the foundations for your application essays.

After doing this, it was much easier for me to begin exploring specific programs that aligned to my interests and it led to more authentic conversations I had with admissions staff, current students and alumni. Business school is a wonderfully rewarding experience and the best way to fully leverage the many opportunities schools offer is to be clear on what you want and why that is important to you.

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? UCLA Anderson is a mission-driven school where its people authentically reflect and are committed to its values. I knew I wanted to attend a school where the backgrounds and experiences of students were diverse and highly celebrated.

For me, this was a necessary component of maximizing my growth and learning in business school. Specifically, Anderson’s value of sharing success promotes a community where students are empowered to challenge themselves and support each other in doing so. Since arriving on campus, I have felt that Anderson is a place where I can have a transformative experience and take risks such as the types of classes to take, clubs to join and leadership experiences to pursue. This was especially important to me as I am planning to pursue career opportunities in new functions and industries. As a member of the Anderson community, I am also accountable to ensure my colleagues feel equally supported. Most importantly, Anderson’s mission to create an environment that thrives not just during the two years of the program but throughout the career span of its people strongly resonated with me. UCLA Anderson has cultivated an unbelievably powerful global network due to the community that is built on campus and this sharing of success transcends well beyond campus.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  One year from now, I aim to have strengthened my business savvy and developed a detailed understanding of how to apply the many experiences I have had at Anderson and my previous career to new functions and industries. I am passionate about the intersection of technology and business products on human capital development and I will be recruiting for roles that incorporate these components. However, I know I have a steep learning curve, so I am looking forward to the challenge of pursuing this path (and securing an aligned internship!). I also aim to assume leadership roles on campus as I begin my second year.

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