Meet The Wharton School’s MBA Class Of 2023

The American spirit is rooted in Philadelphia. The hometown of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, Philadelphia is where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and drafted the Constitution. Here, you’ll find the Liberty Bell — a celebration of ideals and a reminder of imperfection — and Rocky, a fictional symbol of the underdog immigrant rising up when given a fair shot. Even Philadelphia’s nickname, “The City of Brotherly Love”, is pure Americana. Rough-and-tumble brothers may taunt and tussle, but they inevitably come together, sharing a bond rooted in values as much as history and blood.

Philadelphia sparked something centuries ago, an inspiration as much as an alternative. That revolutionary fervor has spurred every generation since to take the baton from the last. They build and innovate off their mistakes and sacrifices. They may fall short, but they continue to push the limits, never satisfied, always learning, and forever striving.


That same spirit is unleashed at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania year-after-year. Founded nearly a hundred years after the First Continental Congress, Wharton represents the first collegiate business school in the United States. That was the start of a number of firsts. Wharton also developed the first research center, first custom executive education program, and first entrepreneurship center. It was a pioneer in joint degrees, online courses, and public policy analysis — not to mention coursework in fields like health care, international management, and fintech.

Here’s another first: Wharton consistently ranks as the top undergraduate business school according to Poets&Quants. By the same token, Wharton has enjoyed the #1 spot in two of the past four P&Q rankings.

Being first isn’t what makes Wharton truly unique, however. Think of Wharton as possibilities. MBAs can tap into an array of courses, alumni networks and faculty expertise, not to mention excursions, institutes, and exchanges. After all, the school boasts over 200 electives and 99,000 alumni in 153 countries. Among the general public, Wharton is associated with tradition, opportunity, and excellence. This scope and renown offers something to the Class of 2023 that few MBA programs can match…


Downtown city skyline view of Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA over the Schuylkill River and boardwalk


“The Wharton School offers an individualized major for students whose interests do not fall within the scope of the 18 available majors,” writes Samantha Klitzman, a producer and actress. “This option appealed to me because it allows students with less traditional goals (i.e. me) to tailor their coursework towards their specific interests.”

Harkening back to its Philadelphia roots, Wharton is revolution, inside and out. There are no boxes and boundaries. You can be an entrepreneur and an activist — preferably both. You can test drive different roles and industries. You can trek overseas or stick around Huntsman Hall. There is always something to do. You can lead a club, run an event, start a business, listen to speakers, network with top employers, or conduct research. At Wharton, you can be anything. You can be the first to make a move or the glue who holds everyone together.

The only thing you can’t be is the same as everyone else.

“Transformation encompasses the mindset of not only the students entering the Wharton MBA program, but also the program and annual cohort selected,” writes Samuel Bennett. “The dynamic course structure and student body is constantly being reinvented, adapted and modified to reflect values held in wider society and champion diversity.”


Bennett himself was previously a surgical trainee, a British Army doctor, and a successful entrepreneur. He personifies the Wharton ethos: diverse and purposeful, full of ideas and soul. How different are Whartonites? Picture this year’s class. You might find Grace Eun Ko, a political analyst for the U.S. Government, sitting next to Arie Kouandjio, a former NFL player who was part of two NCAA Championship football teams at Alabama. Chauneice Davis Yeagley, holds a law degree from Duke and last served as a Federal law clerk for the Honorable Petrese B. Tucker in the United States District Court. After studying literature at Harvard, Katya Johns provided strategy consulting to financial services companies and selected startups for nonprofit funding and support — roles that took her to over 30 countries.  At the same time, Natasha Ramanujam is a former classical musician who moved into health care operations.

And then there is Samantha Klitzman, who spent a decade on CBS’ Blue Bloods. She also co-produced and starred in Candy Jar, a film penned by her brother. “This film made me realize how much of an impact I could have through film production and storytelling and ultimately inspired me to continue on my producing journey.”

Now, multiply that by 300. In any given year, there are over 1,800 full-time MBAs at Huntsman Hall, making it one of the largest business schools in the world. Not surprisingly, “Big” is one word used by the Class of 2023 to describe the MBA program. For them, big is better…but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Wharton’s size is part of why I initially hesitated to attend,” admits Grace Eun Ko.  “I wasn’t sure if I would feel lost among the many students. Even in the short time that I’ve been here, the school has been great in forming smaller groups to build a strong sense of community and unity. The bigger size also means such a wide breadth of activities, resources, and opportunities that you can tap into and get involved in. If there’s something you’re interested in, you can definitely find someone who shares your interest or has experience that they can and are willing to share with you.”

Serene Darwish, Daisy Rincon and Azline Nelson posing in front of the President of Iceland’s home (left to right) as part of a Lauder excursion.


“There are many students here, so you never stop meeting new people,” adds Phyo Shwe Yee Win, a Myanmar native and economics analyst. “And Wharton facilitates developing new connections by having many structured socializing activities such as cluster and cohort events, and affinity-group families.”

Chauneice Davis Yeagley equates the Class of 2023 to a tapestry, a nod to its diverse personalities, nationalities, and experiences. That has only further enriched the time that Grace Eun Ko has spent on campus.

“I’ve come to look forward to hearing where everyone has come from or what their background or interests are because of the vast range of answers,” she notes. “It’s exciting to witness how big the world is through their stories and experiences. Our class is so diverse that when our Learning Team was asked to find three things we had in common with each other, it took a long time for us to come up with the answers!”


That dynamic didn’t happen by accident, adds Rehan Ayrton. He would know: as an undergraduate, Ayrton was the Wharton class president! “Given the large emphasis on teamwork, there are multiple opportunities in and outside the classroom to collaborate and interact with your classmates and what is most striking is the diversity in experience and thought,” he tells P&Q. The whole class is intentionally designed to expose students to different experiences and opinions from the learning teams of 5-6 to the pods of 15-20 to the cohorts of ~70 and ultimately the class.”

What brought Ayrton back to Wharton, knowing he’d already been accepted into Harvard and Stanford? After spending three years at McKinsey, he recognized the immediacy of what he learned as an undergrad.

“The data-driven and application-based learning environment prepares students well for the career paths they are looking to enter,” he point out. “The faculty index heavily on research that is current (data, trends, or theory) and there is a strong culture of using data to make more informed and objective decisions. There have been tons of applications of the knowledge gained as a Wharton undergrad in my day-to-day job as a consultant in the Strategy and Corporate Finance practice, whether that entailed forecasting growth and product penetration of newly-launched products or valuing companies or assets to be acquired.”


Beyond size and diversity, you’ll also hear first-years tout the Wharton community. Forget the stereotype of urban cutthroats always looking to one-up their peers. Instead, Yoojin Jang, a 2021 alum, describes Whartonites as “go-getters with goals and dreams,” the kind of classmates who “invest in each other and celebrate each other’s success.”  That supportive spirit hasn’t changed with the Class of 2023 observes Samantha Klitzman.

“From the second I stepped on campus, students offered to assemble furniture, commute together across town, and connect over Philly’s amazing food. It sounds cheesy but my classmates really lift each other up and make everyone know that they belong.”

They also belong because of the results they’ve already posted in business. Take Katya Johns. As a consultant, she spearheaded a turnaround at a 10,000 person company over 18 months. “I led an incredible 100% female team that put together a five-year strategic roadmap to put this company on the path to profitability. We presented our findings directly to the CEO and the rest of the C-suite, recommending a mix of strategic cutbacks, digital investments, and market and product expansions. I am pleased to report that the company successfully IPO’d earlier this year!”

Sukrit Chadha left his mark in the public sector. Working with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, he installed what he calls “a data-driven decision-making culture, one that produced real results for all stakeholders. “I have been able to save valuable funds ($1M+) to improve healthcare for ~9M people in Rwanda,” he writes. “In this process, I was able to transform data from a luxury to a necessity in the government’s day-to-day operations.”

Wharton student between classes.


Mariama Diallo speaks five languages. Those communication skills were tested during COVID, when she steered her Goldman Sachs clients through all the uncertainty. The same could be said for Grace Eun Ko in her diplomatic work.

“I was the sole analyst and non-manager to be involved in crafting the strategy and presenting recommendations for a sensitive project on a high-priority U.S. foreign policy effort. The relationships I fostered during this project led to the creation of a new position for me to serve as liaison between analytic and operations components that had been stovepiped to improve collaboration and integration.”

The Class of 2023 is equally entrepreneurial. Natasha Ramanujam has been busy pitching VCs for her Monarch startup, a tele-health platform for expecting families. Two years ago, Samuel Bennett launched Affinity Altitude. Originally a sports performance and physiology startup, Bennett pivoted his solution in response to COVID-19.

“I united domain experts from government, industry, and research centers across the UK. Within two weeks, we had developed a sterile self-isolation tent with a virally filtered air supply to limit the spread of airborne infections in densely populated areas (such as hospitals, hospices and care homes). This concept and design was then freely distributed for maximum impact and discussed with senior leaders and policy makers within the UK government and National Health Service.”

Page 2: Interview with Blair Mannix and Dr. Howard Kaufold.

Page 3: Profiles of 12 members of the Class of 2023.

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