“Hard worker. Big dreamer. Experiences over things. Others before self. Family above all. Texas Forever.”
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Fun Fact About Yourself: Houston runs deep in my veins. I am a 5th generation Houstonian on both sides of my family!
Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy at West Point; Bachelor of Science, Systems Engineering
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Army; Combat Engineer Officer, 2014-2019
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My time in the Army provided countless challenging situations that forced me to adapt and grow as a leader. However, my biggest accomplishment was pushing two soldiers towards paths that they did not even know were possible. They both were high performers who embodied the Army’s values every day, but they were unsure of where they wanted to go in life, let alone how to get there. I encouraged them both to apply for college, but they were hesitant for one reason or another, ultimately fearing rejection or failure. I was persistent and continued to push them, exuding the confidence that they were unable to feel on their own. In the end, one received acceptance to West Point and the other has since graduated from college and become an officer in the Army. I am so incredibly proud of them for taking the leap and am excited to see what the future has in store for them.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I think the best way to describe my MBA classmates so far is kind. Throughout the application process, I frequently heard “Rice is nice.” Now that I have arrived on campus, I have been able to see that the admissions team goes to great lengths to ensure that culture is maintained from class to class. Like any quality MBA program, my classmates are diverse in ethnicity, country of origin, previous work experience, and thought. They have welcome everyone’s “whole self” with open arms.
What makes Houston a great place to live and earn your MBA? Houston is the best place to live and earn an MBA for a few reasons. Houston is large (fourth-largest city in the country), diverse (several measures point to it as the most diverse large city in America), and growing rapidly. Those factors have combined into a city culture and energy unlike any other I have encountered. With that diversity and collaboration come fresh ideas. For all the foodies out there, Houston is one of the best culinary scenes in the country. Houston also lies at the intersection of energy and finance, has one of the largest and best medical centers in the world, and an emerging tech industry. Whatever your interests may be, you can likely find it here.
Aside from your classmates and location, 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? As I went through the MBA decision analysis process, there were numerous similarities between my four options. However, the key factor that set Rice over the top in my mind was the amount of impact I could have on the program. The Jones Graduate School of Business is one of the younger B-Schools in the country (established in 1974), but with that youth comes the opportunity to chart the course and trajectory for future classes. At Rice, the impact of every student can be felt. While that can be a heavy burden to carry, I have found that students embrace that responsibility.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I can’t wait for the Global Field Experience. After 2nd semester finals, the first-years split into two groups, each going to a different country (this year Rio de Janeiro and Bogotá are on the agenda). While we are in our respective countries, the two groups are further divided into teams which then work with a local business to tackle a complex problem. An Immersion in another country, with my classmates, applying the concepts we have learned for the past two semesters, is the perfect way to put an exclamation point on the end of a wild first year of business school.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? During one interview, I was asked to describe a time I was on a bad team and how I handled that situation. It was challenging because in my professional career I have had the privilege to serve on numerous great teams with selfless individuals. Despite the year that has passed since then, I still can’t think of a bad team. My leaders and soldiers were second to none.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? When I realized that I did not want to pursue a 20-year career in the Army, I knew I needed to find a way to effectively transition to the next chapter of my life. In March of 2018, I was enjoying a few days back home after returning from Afghanistan and happened to come across a Lunch-and-Learn for Rice’s MBA program. As I learned about the MBA, it became clear that graduate school was the perfect venue to leverage the real-world leadership experiences I gained from the Army while also receiving formal business training. Moreover, I would be surrounded by high-achieving career changers and develop a new professional network. I realized that an MBA is more than three letters at the end of my name; it is a springboard towards a world of opportunity.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Yale, Cornell, and The University of Texas
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I think most prospective students begin their search by combing through various rankings, but I quickly realized that it is necessary to dig much deeper than that. A ranking can’t capture culture, and it certainly can’t tell you how you fit into that school. I knew that I wanted to be more than a number to whichever program I chose. Rice went above-and-beyond to address that concern. In every interaction I had with the school – whether it was with alumni, current students, faculty, or staff – I had an overwhelming feeling of belonging. That feeling was magnified through an hour-long conversation with Dean Rodriguez. The fact that he spent so much of his time addressing one prospective student made it clear that I was more than a metric to the university.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? As odd as it may seem, the defining moment of my life occurred when I was in 4th grade on September 11, 2001. The attacks on the World Trade Center sparked a desire in me to go to West Point and commission as an Army officer which in turn became a passion for leadership. The subsequent journey gave me an invaluable global perspective through missions in South Korea and across the Middle East in addition to the partnership with a whole host of foreign allies. All these experiences reinforced my commitment to a lifetime of service and showed me more ways to fulfill that calling.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Professionally, I see myself as a rising leader in the energy-finance community, leveraging my military experience and the knowledge gained from business school. Personally, I see myself championing the diversity efforts of organizations like The Consortium, Service to School, and The Toigo Foundation. working to ensure future generations have access to the life-changing opportunities an MBA provides.