Meet Arizona State’s MBA Class Of 2019

Shalini Thomas 

W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I believe that ensuring administrative and innovative excellence at a nonprofit is how I can make the greatest impact in the fight for justice.

Hometown: Iowa City, IA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I figured out very late in life that I love spreadsheets and Excel! I don’t think anything about where I am now, or my current trajectory would be the same if I hadn’t realized this while I was still in high school.

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service, International Politics Major

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: 

BIA Accredited Representative at Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services in El Paso, TX

Economic Justice Advocate with Comité de Justicia Laboral/Texas Civil Rights Project in El Paso, TX

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working full-time at a nonprofit, I also volunteered 20 hours a week to help organize and run an emergency shelter for refugee families caught by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the US/Mexico border. During my busiest time at the shelter, we received close to 100 refugees a day.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Aim high! I don’t have a business background, and since I want to remain in the non-profit world after graduation, I have fairly non-traditional goals. I thought this would make me a weaker candidate, and therefore originally only applied to business schools where my GMAT score was at or above the school’s published average score. Thankfully, someone convinced me to change my approach and aim higher in time for the later admissions rounds!

In the same vein, if you want an MBA, don’t be intimidated if you don’t know anything about business. In my admissions interviews, I focused on why I want an MBA and how an MBA will allow me to achieve my career goals. I never felt that the lack of business knowledge or acumen negatively impacted me during the admissions process. If you can confidently and clearly explain why an MBA is right for you, your current knowledge (or lack thereof) won’t hold you back!

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? While I couldn’t attend Countdown (a weekend on-campus event in April for admitted students), the students I talked to who attended couldn’t stop raving about the event and the W. P. Carey staff. They said it was clear that the event organizers had put in an immense amount of effort to make the weekend enjoyable and informative for everyone, and were clearly determined to ensure each student had enough personalized individual attention to feel welcome and like an essential part of the incoming class. Their experiences convinced me that I would feel welcomed and valued, too, even though I’m not a traditional MBA student, which was a hugely important factor in my decision to join the MBA program at the W. P. Carey School.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? A management position at a nonprofit that focuses on community organizing and leadership development, where the staff and board trust me to implement what I’ve learned at W. P. Carey, allowing me to impact both staff and the community we serve positively.

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