Jesuit education comes with certain myths. To an outsider, it is a faith-based, rigorously theoretical exercise, a pursuit that ultimately leads to piety. In reality, the Jesuit way is a framework for thinking critically. Think of it as a toolkit for tackling the profound questions around ethics and meaning. Here, education is as much about service as spirituality, a means to become well-rounded “men and women for others” who aren’t afraid to challenge the norms. More than that, Jesuit education is a calling – a demand to reflect deeply and act forcefully.
It is an education that’s open to all faiths, cultures, and political persuasions. That was one of the striking features of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, says Greg Baesa, a 2018 graduate and a member of Poets&Quants’ MBAs To Watch.
“Because of our strong roots with the Jesuit tradition, many may think Georgetown McDonough is a conservative, traditional school,” he contends. “In fact, we are global-minded, and we champion the diversity of thought and ideas. Through our several student-led treks into countries such as Israel, China, and Tanzania, many of my classmates have explored and gained a better appreciation of the intersection of business and culture. Further, Georgetown McDonough student clubs go beyond professional development. Our affinity clubs such as Out@MSB, Georgetown Women in Business (GWiB), McDonough Military Association (MMA), Latin American Business Association (LABA), and others are among the most active organizations on campus.”
HEEDING A CALL FOR A BETTER WORLD OVER A BETTER JOB
This mission attracted students like Michael Cox to the Class of 2020. Starting out as a Teach for America Corps member, Cox’s career has focused on public service. He has worked a legislative assistant to Congressman Gregory Meeks, a special advisor in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and a senior policy advisor to the New York City Mayor’s Office. To him, McDonough offers a higher purpose than simply tacking another degree onto his wall.
“I was driven to Georgetown by the overarching idea that the world doesn’t need more MBAs who are only and primarily personally successful,” he explains. “Instead, it needs business students and leaders who are individually successful and who also disrupt and improve inefficient and inequitable systems across and between sectors.”
Thus far, Cox believes his classmates fit the bill, calling their selflessness and optimism “energizing.” At the same time, he has been impressed by their far-flung backgrounds and commitment to causes far greater than a job in New York or breaking into the tech sector.
SELF-AWARE, OPEN-MINDED, AND PASSIONATE
“Georgetown has done a great job of assembling a really diverse set of students,” Cox notes. “It includes former engineers, techs, consultants, Peace Corps volunteers, bankers, and public sector journeymen. Like me, there isn’t a type, per se—at least not from a professional background or interest standpoint.
The clearest commonality that I have found is that McDonough students are exceptionally self-aware, driven—but not overbearing—and most of all, there is a very strong orientation toward business leadership that advances social responsibility. When I speak with finance people, they want to understand markets and catalyze change for the greater good; multiple prospective consultants are interested in premier firms to gain insights they can use to help disadvantaged businesses or international development.”
How do other members of the 2020 Class see their peers? Sania Mohammed, a PR executive from Kuwait, has found them to be very open-minded. “All my fellow classmates that I’ve met so far have been friendly and receptive to new experiences, despite coming from different backgrounds,” she says. “As a minority in the program, I was concerned that I would feel a left out or out of place, but that’s proving to be far from true!”
What unifies the class, says Luis Eduardo Font, a Cummins engineer, is a shared sense of passion. “From a filmmaker to a fashion designer to a wine entrepreneur, I have found that in every conversation I have had with [my] classmates, they are truly passionate about what they used to do, what they are looking to accomplish while in school, and what they are looking to pursue after school. It is humbling and at the same time exciting to learn about their stories and what their goals are for the future.”
FROM RUNNING FOR OFFICE TO BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER
True to the Jesuit tradition, the Class of 2020 hails from all walks of life. Take Varun Premkumar. Before coming to DC, he trained Marines and Navy SEALS in close air support. His claim to fame? He has broken the sound barrier in a military jet as a U.S. Marine aviator. At Oracle, Catherine Johnson, a church deacon, was promoted to management after her first year at Oracle – a feat achieved by only one other member of her 250 member class. In the Peace Corps, Tory Paez designed a STEM curriculum for girls that is in the process of being adopted by over 1,200 volunteers in Costa Rica. That said, Daniela Rodriguez has already lived the dream of every management consultant: her client’s CEO adopted all of her initiatives in the strategic plan she drafted!
In Congress, Michael Cox helped Congressmen Gregory Meeks and John Lewis shepherd a $1.5 billion dollar aid package through Congress, which covered everything from international economic development to education support – funding that has swelled to $10 billion dollars over the past seven years. However, Cox hasn’t been afraid to step out from behind the scenes, either. True to Georgetown’s service ethos, he ran for a New York State Senate seat to combat poverty and failing schools. The campaign was no different than launching a startup. He hired and managed staff, reached out to voters, pored over data, and raised tens-of-thousands of dollars from people ranging from his mom to venture capitalist Arthur Rock.
“While I ultimately didn’t win the campaign,” he admits, “I garnered nearly 5,000 votes against a 32-year incumbent. I believe my run led to a movement within the old guard to begin to listen more closely to their constituents as opposed to resting on their laurels. As I think through my next steps in life, I know an MBA will help me address the challenges I’ve faced and have seen so many in my community face and improve my management skills so I can tackle the next set of problems I seek to change.”
Cox wasn’t alone in acting locally to spur the greater good. As a quant, Fernando C. Barbosa tends to view finance – or resource generation and allocation – as a means to solve problems. He practiced this philosophy in the most intimate of venues: In 2012, he used a generous bonus from work to start an embroidery company for his parents. He even managed strategy, financing, and procurement so his parents could focus on their trade. The results speak for themselves.
“Five years later, BordaDora, Inc. reached revenues of almost $200 thousand per year, and employed four staff, besides my parents and sister,” he says.
GMAT AVERAGE EDGES UP
As a whole, business schools received fewer applications during the 2017-2018 application cycle – and Georgetown McDonough was no exception. The school attracted 1,459 applications during the period, down 16% from the previous year. That was a boon for some candidates, as the school’s acceptance rate jumped from 48% to 55%. Academically, however, this reduction had little impact. Average GMATs climbed from 692 to 693, with average undergraduate GPAs slipping from 3.37 to 3.34.
The class profile also shifted slightly. The percentage of women fell three points to 29%. By the same token, international students dropped from 33% to 29%. Underrepresented minorities account for 16% of the 2020 Class – the same percentage as the previous year – as American minorities overall represent a 37% share. Overall, 73% of the class has lived, worked, or studied abroad.
As undergraduates, the largest segment of the class – 26% – majored in business. That number would jump to 42% if economics majors were lumped into the total. STEM majors account for another 30% of the class. Broken down, that number consists of engineering (16%), math and sciences (11%), and computer science (3%). The biggest surprise? Think government and international studies, which make up a 15% share of the class. Humanities majors take up another 9% of the seats.
By industry, the class is deeply segmented. The largest portion of the class hails from financial services. This industry represents an 18% share of the class, beating out consulting (14%), technology and new media (11%), government (9%), humanities (8%), manufacturing (7%), and not-for-profit (7%).