2020 First Generation MBAs: Leydiana Munguia, Wharton School

Leydiana Munguia

The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania

Class: 2021

Hometown: Dalton, GA

Fun Fact About Yourself: My elbows are double-jointed; I can rotate my arms all the way around. It looks pretty gross so I am always careful that my elbows don’t hyper extend when I raise my hand in class.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Georgia, Management Information Systems

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Biden for President, Fundraising Analytics

What did your parents do for a living? Father works in construction and mother in a carpet manufacturing factory floor.

What was the highest level of education achieved by your mother and your father? Mother finished third grade and father sixth

Which family member or mentor is your biggest inspiration or role model? Why? My parents are my biggest role models. They migrated to the United States from Mexico in their early 20s not knowing the language or having a secure place to live. All they had was an immense work ethic and a dream of a better future. Whenever I feel unmotivated, I think about their resilience and the immense sacrifice they made so I can have an opportunity for a better life.

What was the moment that led you to decide to pursue higher education? In high school, I was in a program called “College In-Sight” for first-generation high school students. I received additional resources like homework help and college counseling that, as first-generation students, we unfortunately don’t receive at home. Through this program, I applied to a few schools but never really considered what actually being accepted to college would actually mean. When I got accepted to my top choice, I was terrified. The only friend I knew that was planning on attending this school was my school’s valedictorian, who was later told she couldn’t attend because of her legal status. I realized that opportunities like the one I was facing are what people like me only dream about, and I couldn’t not take that for granted.

What was your biggest worry before going for your undergraduate degree? Money was always my biggest worry. Since the age of 16, I worked to help my family with expense. We always had everything we needed but it took all of us working hard to make ends meet. Leaving for college meant my family would lose my added income and I would need to figure out how to pay for college and the additional cost of living.

What was the most challenging part of getting your undergraduate degree? The culture shock was the biggest struggle for me. I attended a mostly Hispanic high school and, for the first time, I was attending a school where less than 3% of the school was Latinx. I didn’t have any friends who looked like me and I was constantly feeling like an outsider. I would think about my parents arriving to the United States for the first time as motivation that I could make it in a new city and an unfamiliar experience.

What didn’t your family understand about the higher experience that you wish they would understand better? Moving out of my parents’ home at the age of 18 for college was very taboo for my family. Typically, in Mexican families, daughters live in their parents’ home until they get married. My family had a hard time understanding that for me to receive a better education, I needed to move away.

What led you to pursue an MBA degree? As the first person in my family to work in the business sector, I lacked network of peers that I could reach out to for help in navigating my career. An MBA allows me to explore different sectors and connect with an amazing group of professional I previously lacked access to. In turn, I hope to grow into a leader that other first-generation students, particularly Latinx, feel like that have someone in their professional network.

How did you choose your MBA program? When I was exploring MBA programs, one key deciding factor was having a diverse class, both culturally and professionally. Coming from the south, Wharton has been one of the most diverse groups I have been a part of. My classmates at Wharton have exceeded my expectations and challenge me to grow both personally and professionally.

How were you able to finance your MBA as a first generation student?  When I started working at Deloitte five years ago, I learned about the opportunity to have my MBA sponsored and worked to ensure I met all of the firm’s requirements. I am fortunate enough to receive their sponsorship as well as a fellowship from Wharton to help finance my MBA.

What advice would you have for other first-generation college students?  Don’t be afraid of going for opportunities that feel far-fetched now. We receive opportunities because we earned them and we must continue forward with the same courage and resilience that pushed us to where we are today.

What do you plan to pursue after graduation? I am returning to Deloitte as Senior Consulting in their technology practice.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.