Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Vanessa Nunez, UCLA (Anderson)

Vanessa Nunez

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“Bold, ambitious, and grounded in equity, justice, and community.”

Hometown: Dos Palos, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I got to fly on a private jet to pick up an organ for transplant, then help with the transplant surgery that saved the patient’s life (coolest — and longest — day of medical school so far).

Undergraduate School and Major: UCLA ’16 – B.S. Human Biology and Society, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA ’23 – M.D.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Medical Scribe, Lifelong Medical Care

UCLA Anderson is founded on the Three Pillars: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, and Drive Change. Which pillar resonates most with you and why? The pillar I most strongly resonate with is Driving Change. The last year-and-a-half have highlighted how our current systems and institutions have led to enormous disparities for communities of color; we know that going back to “normal” is not an option. I acknowledge the tremendous privilege I have of getting to learn from tremendous leaders at Anderson, and I am confident that we will all leave here ready to move forward and drive change that will lead to a more equitable, just and safe world for all.

What makes Los Angeles such a great place to earn an MBA? Aside from the great weather and the delicious food(!), the diversity in Los Angeles makes this a fantastic place to earn an MBA. We have the opportunity to learn from people of all walks of life and join in partnerships with these communities to drive change that is rooted in the needs of the community.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of UCLA Anderson’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose UCLA Anderson to pursue my MBA because of its established partnerships with both UCLA Health and local community-based organizations. I am interested in the integration of health and social services, and Anderson provided opportunities both in and out of the classroom to learn how to build these partnerships effectively.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at UCLA Anderson (and why)? I definitely am looking forward to learning and meeting people through HBA (the Healthcare Business Association) and ALMA (the Alliance for Latinx Management at Anderson), but I am especially excited for all the opportunities to try new food in LA (AnderEats, section dinners, etc.)!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The accomplishment I am most proud of in my career so far is being in the position I am in now. As a first-generation Latina who grew up in rural California, not many people expected me to be in this position, myself included. I’ve proved to myself time and time again that I am more than capable and that my contributions are valuable, and I am proud to be here and share the perspective of communities like my own.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? The pandemic was, in part, what pushed me to pursue an MBA. It has magnified inequalities that have existed for centuries and has had a devastating and disproportionate impact in BIPOC communities. While I love treating patients in the hospital, the pandemic made clear that I have a responsibility to use my privilege to fight for equitable care for all patients. I knew I needed to devote myself to learning the skills I would need to create system level change, and I knew UCLA Anderson would be the place to do that.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I decided to pursue an MBA to better serve my patients as a future physician. After graduation, I’ll be applying for residency training programs and plan to work at hospitals that care for some of our most marginalized patients. Ultimately, I plan to use my MBA to lead system-level changes that fundamentally improve the way we deliver health care.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? USC, UC Berkeley, Wharton, Harvard

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into UCLA Anderson’s MBA program? My advice to potential applicants would be to not sell yourself short. When I first considered applying to MBA programs, I thought being accepted was a long shot for me. I didn’t have a background in business or as much work experience as my peers. But I quickly realized that my differing experiences was what made me a great candidate for an MBA. Now, I’m able to provide a perspective in the classroom that is unique and often looked over otherwise. Diversity in students leads to diversity in ideas, and there is so much value in that.


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