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Meet The MBA Class Of 2020: Profiles in Courage

“My Anderson classmates strike a perfect balance between savvy and social. They’re gregarious while still being thoughtful, driven while still caring about others.” — Amanda Sol Peralta, UCLA Anderson School of Management

FROM BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER TO CLIMBING MOUNT DENALI

Wharton School’s Kaila Squires

Celebrities aside, the class is also packed with daredevils who fit the courageous tag to a tee. Take Georgetown’s Varun Premkumar. He broke the sound barrier as a Marine Corps pilot. Think that’s exhilarating? Just imagine trading places with Wharton’s Kaila Squires, who took a true leap of faith in Macau: a “once-in-a-lifetime” bungee jump from 773 feet – the highest jump of its kind. Think that’s high? Ask the University of Texas’ Travis Miller about the time he fell just 250 feet shy of Mount Denali’s 20,310 summit, thanks to 40 below temperatures and fierce winds. That might not have stopped Fabian Kissing. The Dartmouth Tuck made the 4,920 nautical mile sail across the Atlantic Ocean – an adventure that steeled his leadership skills during one severe evening storm.

“As a less experienced crew member was helping me put down the mainsail,” he recalls, “it got stuck, creating a dangerous situation. In that moment, I learned more about leadership—and the importance of helping others remain calm and function effectively—than in any other moment on our cruise. I learned that empathizing with the feelings of others, especially in stressful situations, is the foundation for effective teamwork.”

And you won’t find a better teammate than Ashley John. This Rice Jones recruit kept performing on her high school dance team while hiding a secret: she was twisting and flipping on a torn ACL. NYU Stern’s Alice Schnurman actually climbed the Great Wall of China just a month after ACL surgery. Looking for an example of serendipity? IESE’s Tetsuya Hasuoka was born on the same month, day, and year as his wife. How about obsession? Check out the London Business School’s Andi Frkovich, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant who has read the entire Harry Potter series in English, Arabic, and Spanish! When you’re down in Emory Goizueta, be sure to check out David Hinshillwood’s better half. “I am an aspiring drag queen who goes by the name Miss Patti Archy (like “patriarchy,” which I hope to dismantle one lip-sync at a time!).”

FROM PLAYING WITH THE WOOKS TO HITTING THE BOOKS

Beyond their cocktail stories, the Class of 2020 comes from nearly every corner of business. Anthony Solesi made VP at the Bank of New York Mellon before enrolling at Duke Fuqua. By the same token, HEC Paris’ Amanda Moritz served as a marketing manager at Google, while NYU Stern’s Nica Langinger grew Snap’s B2B support team from 1 member to 40. At the same time, IESE’s Laura Napoli was elevated to head Bitly’s strategic marketing, thanks to her content initiatives driving nearly three-quarters of the company’s new business in one quarter.

However, corporate was only one source of MBA talent this year. After earning degrees in anthropology from Dartmouth and piano from Julliard, Columbia’s Edward Kim joined the Salzburg State Theater, a leading venue for operas and symphonies. Galen Green helped his band, The Wooks, launch a crowdfunding campaign that enabled them to cut a Top 10 Bluegrass album with Grammy-winning producer Alison Brown. Along with the awards, touring, and radio play, the North Carolina MBA learned that music was more than a dream. It was a business.

“As that happened, my professional interests evolved beyond the music industry to include finance, general management and energy because I had recognized how integral these fields were to every kind of business—from huge corporations down to small businesses like our own,” Green explains. “The MBA was just a natural progression from there.”

Go to Page 4 for in-depth profiles of 32 members of the Class of 2020.