Jennifer Grace Million
“Authentic and ambitious leader of character grounded on the principles of faith, family, force.”
Hometown: San Jose, California
Fun Fact About Yourself: Before joining the Long Grey Line (the United States Military Academy), I had never ridden in a plane. Upon graduation (four years later), I had jumped out of a plane- not once, but five times.
Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy, West Point (B.S. Engineering Management) / Missouri University of Science and Technology (M.S. Petroleum Engineering)
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Army / Headquarters Department of the Army Staff Officer
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Overall, it would be influencing others as a soldier and leader in the United States Army. If I have to recall one specific accomplishment, it would be returning home with all forty of my Soldiers after a 12-month deployment to RC-South Afghanistan, where I served as their Platoon Leader. Being entrusted with the lives of 40 others in an arguably hostile environment is asking a lot – I’m thankful that I was unknowingly prepared.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diverse
Aside from your classmates, 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 MBA candidates, we invest a lot of time and energy in ensuring Universities gain a feeling of who we are as individuals. Wharton seemed to have pursued me as much as I did it, which weighed heavily in my decision-making. Further, I am interested in majoring in Real Estate and Wharton is a premier institution for that pursuit.
Talk to us about the team-based project you completed during the application process. What did you do that helped you stand out during it? I didn’t shy away from who I am. My ten years of military experience significantly shaped who I am today. There have been times I wasn’t upfront with my military affiliation (more so because I volunteered service and am not seeking thanks). However, I have come to realize that by shying away, I keep people at a distance; I keep people from learning who I am. During the team-based interview, my response reflected past military experiences. I considered the interview a blessing in it of itself, so I figured I’d roll the dice, and take the chance of revealing all of me. After all, isn’t that what Wharton encourages? Fortunately, it seemed to work out for both parties.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I was a saberist at West Point, so I’m looking forward to joining Wharton’s Fencing Club. Additionally, I am looking forward to stretch experiences and the discovery that comes along with them.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? It wasn’t a question that was asked, it was a fact that I’d have to confront. Choosing Wharton meant I was choosing to be separated from my spouse. For some, that seems reasonable. However, after serving ten years in the military, a self-inflicted separation isn’t as easy, especially after already experiencing it and knowing there’s potential for more.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I recently transitioned from serving as an Army Engineer to an Army Force Manager. I believe Wharton’s MBA program will allow me to make more significant and substantial contributions to our army and nation at large. Wharton will not only provide me with the technical expertise, but it will also provide me with opportunities to lead in a non-military setting where peers won’t be subject to following my orders. I’ll be challenged to lead a diverse group of talented individuals who won’t be afraid to counter my argument or challenge me. Wharton will stretch me in areas the military hasn’t, which will make me an even better asset to our army.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Knowing my husband would stay employed at the Pentagon, I applied to schools in proximity to Washington DC, to include: Georgetown (McDonough School of Business, George Washington University, and the University of Virginia (Darden School of Business).
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized location, reputation, curriculum, and fit. The best tools I used to evaluate schools were interview days and Welcome Weekend. The aforementioned provided me the best insight because I was able to interact with current students and other candidates. I am firm believer that interviews provide a chance for universities to get to know candidates, but also for candidates to get to know universities. Although I love reading about institutions and analyzing their rankings, I believe the only way to get a real feel of the institution is to visit. Wharton’s reputation, in and of itself, can arguably fit most career goals. However, I chose Wharton because they seemed a perfect fit for my personal goals as well.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? 2010 was one of the toughest years of my life. At age 23, I was forced to deal with the death of my father, grandmother, uncle, and my brother’s attempted suicide while serving a 12-month combat tour to Afghanistan. I learned many lessons. One of which was how to simultaneously manage emotional fatigue and competing demands. Within the Wharton community, students will be confronted with a similar challenge; they will have to manage the academic workload while fulfilling personal and professional obligations. I will willingly help any peer manage the workload to successfully complete the program. Our cohort will have to rely on one another in much the same way as soldiers do in battle, except the circumstances aren’t nearly as dire. What I’ll bring to the Wharton community is a sense of camaraderie – it’s part of who I am.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Transitioning from a successful career of service to our nation to building and growing a company with my husband, all while raising a family grounded on the principles of faith, family, and force.