Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2019

Jayce Hafner

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Farmer’s daughter, policy wonk, and aspiring writer pursuing an MBA to address climate change.

Hometown: Edinburg, Virginia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I grew up on a farm and can hypnotize a chicken in less than a minute.

Undergraduate School and Major: Hendrix College, double major in International Relations and Sustainable Communities

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Fulbright Fellow, U.S. Department of State (I completed a research paper and documentary film in Trinidad and Tobago exploring the power of theater to promote social and political change). Domestic and Environmental Policy Advisor for the Episcopal Church (I represented the Episcopal Church’s positions on poverty alleviation and sustainability to the White House, U.S. Congress, and the United Nations.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Empowering effective climate change policy is a top priority for the Episcopal Church, and to further this end, I represented our Presiding Bishop at the United Nations during the historic Paris climate change negotiations in 2015. As a member of the Bishop’s inaugural delegation, I advocated to and strategized with diplomats and business leaders on the formation and implementation of the Paris Agreement (aimed at preventing global temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius in this century). Civil society actors play a crucial role in macro-level policymaking and it was awesome to be a part of this historic, game-changing moment. At this conference, I was also inspired by the power of investors mobilizing finance for climate change mitigation, a realization that ultimately influenced me to apply to business school and learn more about these impactful tools to address climate change.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Before you sit down to write your personal statement, spend some good time thinking about the moments in your life that have been meaningful and transformative. Write down these scenes individually and consider them in the larger trajectory of your past and your intended future: where do your gifts and monumental experiences intersect with your interests, and how can you weave these pieces together into a coherent narrative? Your personal statement is less about conveying a personal brand and more about giving the admissions committee the opportunity to see you: not simply what you’ve done, but how you think, what you value, and why you’ve chosen to tackle the things that you’ve accomplished. Own up to your sense of self: your quirks, your decisions, your beliefs. In this way, you are not only creating an authentic essay but you’re also giving yourself permission to show up completely in the later stages of your application process: during your interview, your school visits, and your chats with students, faculty and alumni.

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? I cold-emailed the GSB’s Food and Agribusiness club the year before I applied to Stanford. I didn’t know a soul at the business school and was so excited to immediately receive a response in my inbox from the club’s co-president, inviting me to meet. We had a long coffee chat and then he took an extra chunk of time just to show me around campus. I was impressed by this student’s ability to articulate his own values and ambitions, and he seemed more interested in learning about me than in talking about himself. This is the hallmark of the Stanford GSB: a conscientious and caring community that balances introspection with keen curiosity and a world-changing focus. I left my Stanford visit wanting nothing more than to be a part of this circle facing outward.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? The GSB emphasizes how important it is to know yourself well and encourages us to dig deep, to ask the why’s behind the why’s and to push ourselves into honest introspection. After this first year of business school, I believe that success means knowing oneself fully, not missing the opportunity to dive into one’s own complex, messy, and fascinating inner world and then using that knowledge to move in the outer world with heightened self-awareness, empathy, and purpose.

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