Imagine an MBA program where you are the center of attention. No irritating undergrads or demanding execs – and all the resources are showered on you. You’re an Ivy Leaguer, but without the preppy privilege and a cutthroat code. Surrounding you is vintage Americana. Think deliberate and slow, forests and farmlands, pumpkin patches and syrup jugs, wineries and gelato shops – a four seasons wonder that starts with bicycling, kayaking, and hiking and finishes in skiing, skating, and snowmobiling.
Majestic scenery. Time-honored customs. Welcoming communities. That’s the Upper Valley, a regional throwback that winds along the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. Here, you’ll find the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, a program regaled for its academic heft and alumni involvement. A two hour drive from Boston, Tuck is stashed in the shadow of Moose Mountain, in a town with just 12,000 people. That’s part of the charm of Hanover. It is a place where MBAs can step back, build relationships, master fundamentals, and live the good life. At Tuck, there are no strangers, just a wealth of variety and opportunity.
Make no mistake: Tuck isn’t too remote for recruiters. After all, 2020 grads pulled down median pay of $180,000, with 88% landing bonuses to boot.
JUST BE NICE
“Smart, aware, nice.” That the criteria that Tuck admissions officers use to evaluate applicants. Not surprisingly, Tuck MBAs are described as possessing trademark “niceness.” Broken down, Tuck nice means open to ideas, generous with time, upbeat in attitude, and civil during debate. Or, to coin a phrase from 2020 grad Sonovia Wint, Tuckies are “empathetically assertive.”
“At Tuck, being nice means you are invested not only in your own success but also in the success of others,” explains Luke Anthony Peña, the recently departed executive director of admissions and financial aid. “On one hand, this means being in the habit of supporting others…On the other hand, this also means demonstrating the courage to challenge others.”
Being “nice” helped each first-year land a spot in the Class of 2022. Sure enough, they see their classmates reflect this niceness back on them. Xu Han, for one, notes that some class members were delayed in arriving in Hanover. The response: study group scheduled meetings that accommodated everyone – even those half-way around the world.
A NEIGHBORLY CLASS
“Fellow Tuckies are so genuine and supportive,” he observes. “The mentality of “I am only winning when everyone is winning” is real at Tuck.”
Nice also comes across as humble. Muhammad Hassan, a financial analyst from Columbus, was struck by how his peers walk a difficult balance. He notes that they are “quick to give credit, but slow to claim it.” Despite this, they refuse to “dull their shine.” In fact, they are all too willing to bring classmates into their glow. True to Tuck’s small town ethos, the class has adopted a “neighborly” approach.
“Whether dropping off cupcakes as a neighborly welcome gift or taking the time out of their day to review a tough assignment with you, they have embodied how special it is to be a part of this community,” adds Ryan McNamara, a product engineer by trade.
STUDENTS WHO SELF-SELECT
Nice offers added benefits. Gissell Castellón, a Wellesley grad and Target senior planner, believes the community feel will enable her to share thoughts and receive feedback without the negativity. Instead, Tuckies tend to treat their classmates as “adopted family” and their school as a “home away from home,” explains 2020 grad Kevin Yuan. This stems partially from students self-selecting a program that values deep relationships. For another, Ryan McNamara observes, the program’s rural setting gives students the space and calm to focus on what’s truly important: connecting individually and jelling into a tight-knit community.
“Tuck’s unique location promotes relationship-building and allows the class to focus on spending quality time with each other while surrounded by the beautiful Upper Valley. I have already experienced the quality of connections that this community fosters, where feedback is given and received freely, and deep reflection is encouraged.”
And personal attention is lavished upon full-time students as well. After all, Tuck MBAs aren’t competing with undergrad, executive, or online students for time with faculty and resources from administration. Plus, Tuck faculty take teaching and mentoring very seriously. For example, Xu Han participated in a pre-matriculation program on mass prison incarceration of minorities that included a wide swath of the Tuck community.
“The Executive Director of Career Development Office at Tuck, a professor at Tuck, two second-year students who were going through internships and three first-year students, including me, were in my group. They are all busy people; nonetheless, they all took this opportunity very seriously and dedicate much time to the group so that we could all learn together in a meaningful way.”
A CHANGE-MARKER, AN AWARD-WINNER, AND AN OLYMPIAN
That’s what the Class of 2022 has been doing in the shadow of COVID-19. Like all families, these first-years rose to the occasion – as a whole – to counter a threat,” explains Jonathon Chin, a Target merchandiser. “Since the first part of the fall term (called Fall A) was virtual for first-year students at Tuck, no one needed to be on campus, but everyone wanted to be. The community piece really shines in times like this where it’s tough to stay connected.”
Of course, the fall class shined long before they arrived in Hanover. Chin, for one, created the pricing strategy for Target’s Adult Beverages business. By the same token, Elias Castro Orrego rolled out a marketing campaign for Yopi, food designed for vulnerable populations like infants and the elderly. The campaign eventually garnered Yopi two Effies, the most distinguished award for marketing. Oh – and Castro Orrego was named Employee of the Year too. At the same time, Briana Provancha made the 2016 Olympic Games, representing the United States in sailing.
“Retiring from Olympic sailing to start a second career in business was a pivotal decision for me,” she admits. “I gave sailing my absolute all and faced many challenges along the way which taught me resilience. Knowing the size of the (MBA) mountain that’s in front of me, I’m honored and humbled to climb this mountain and face challenges over the next two years with an amazing group of Tuckies.”
IMAGINE WHAT THE CLASS CAN DO WHEN THEY COME TOGETHER
Nayantara Eashwar is one such Tuckie. She helped set up the first incubator for women-led tech startup in India’s Karnataka state – home to 64 million people. In Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, Charles Phelps advised the 7th Special Forces Operations Group. As an Ernst & Young consultant, Xu Han implemented an AI automation that saved a Fortune 500 firm over a million dollars. Along the same lines, Schuyler Dalton built a one-of-a-kind farmer network for field trials that eventually encompassed over 20 companies and 120,000 acres. And here’s one more: Ryan McNamara’s helped the French government avert a catastrophe by identifying and fixing a testing flaw at a nuclear plant!
When he isn’t installing giant diesel generators, McNamara is a Chesapeake Bay crabber, who loves dining on Maryland Blue Crabs with family and friends. Kahsa Teum is literally a Cameron Crazy. As a senior at Duke, she lived in a tent so she could get front row seats to the North Carolina-Duke basketball game. Speaking of college, Amayo Bassey was won of 50 students selected in a TOMS global competition for a “Ticket to Give.”
“I got to go on a giving trip in Peru with TOMS smack in the middle of my penultimate semester at Villanova.”
Class members admit this fall hasn’t been easy. With the pandemic, Gissell Castellón says, the class has been facing issues ranging from waiting on visas to zoom classes. Logistics weren’t much better, with Jonathon Chin joking that the town only has one Uber driver. Despite these disadvantages, the class pulled together early on, providing rides to take people to airport runs or make grocery runs. Such efforts perhaps foreshadow something more profound in the coming months.
“Imagine what we can do when we are all on campus and in-person full time,” Castellón wonders.
AN OUTDOORSY BUNCH
Chances are, they’ll be bonding outdoors in winter sports, a long-standing Tuck tradition. This includes tripod hockey – an event that nearly every Tuckie plays or watches. Not surprisingly, the Tuck Outdoors Club – which has historically organized rock climbing, snowshoeing, and canoeing trips across New England – ranks among the school’s most popular clubs.
“I love how outdoorsy and up for adventure my classmates are,” adds Schuyler Dalton. “We’ve got folks who have hiked the PCT or the Long Trail, but we’ve also got classmates who have never hiked a mile. It’s so fun to witness my new-to-hiking classmates meet up with expert outdoorswomen and men to enjoy the outdoors together. I also think these pairings of novice and skilled are symbolic of attitudes of my classmates; adventurous and supportive, bold and encouraging.”
Indeed, Tuckies keep themselves plenty busy – despite their reputation for “being in the middle of nowhere.” Elias Castro Orrego is looking forward to being stuffed inside “The Box” – Tuck’s food truck that’s run by students. Similarly, Kahsa Teum cites the student-run school gift shop, where students practice what they learn about pricing and inventory. Small group dinners are another staple of Tuck life, as are events like Tuck Follies and Winter Carnival. That doesn’t even count Tuck Community Consulting, where students pair up with local businesses in the Upper Valley.
Page 2: Class Stats
Pages 2-3: Interview with Tuck Leadership, including Dean Matthew Slaughter
Page 4: In-depth profiles of 12 members of the Class of 2022