Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Isabella Ramirez, University of Washington (Foster)

Isabella Ramirez

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Always questioning the status quo, building toward a better future, and up for an adventure.”

Hometown: Munster, IN

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve solo traveled to over 20 countries!

Undergraduate School and Major:

BS Materials Science & Engineering, Purdue University

MS Mechanical Engineering, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: I was a contracted process engineer working on Oculus Research & Development at Facebook.

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? One of the biggest advantages of Seattle is its proximity to so many potential employers. Additionally, I really like the size of Seattle. It has all of the big city amenities, but to me it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly big. Plus, there is a lot of interesting variety in the different neighborhoods. At the end of the day though, my favorite part about Seattle is the incredible nature and national parks nearby.

Aside from your location and classmates, what was the key part of Washington Foster’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The values and culture at Foster are what made me positive that it is the place for me. Foster has a huge focus on a collaborative culture, and it’s so important to me to have supportive, open, collaborative environment in business school. I am a values-driven person, and I see Foster as a values- driven school. I also love the relatively small class size because a priority for me during my MBA is to build strong relationships – and the class size seems conducive to that.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Washington Foster? I’m excited about joining Out in Business at Foster. I’m looking forward to building community with my fellow LGBTQ+ students, and I think there’s a big need to support and increase representation of LGBTQ+ business students. Learning about more actionable ways to do that is a goal of mine at Foster. I’m also excited about Net Impact Club. I think there is great potential to infuse equity and sustainability into every aspect of business operations, and I’m excited to learn more about those possibilities.

Washington Foster operates off a philosophy of We>Me. Give us an example of how you’ve incorporated that approach in your career? Throughout my engineering career, I have always been involved in some sort of mentorship program. Recently, I was part of Women in Science & Engineering at UCSB, where I mentored several first-year engineering students and offered them support and perspective of being a woman in engineering. Increasing diversity in the engineering world is a challenge that still needs a lot of work. I think mentorship and intentional community building are important ways to increase retention of underrepresented engineering students and create more inclusive environments.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Rather than pinpointing a specific accomplishment, I would say I am most proud of how intentional I have been throughout my career. During college, I relentlessly pursued a job opportunity at Texas Instruments, where I was able to work abroad in Southeast Asia. I knew how valuable international experience would be in my personal and professional life, and it paid off more than I could have imagined. I was also very intentional in pursuing my Master’s in Engineering: I quit my stable engineering role at Texas Instruments to satisfy my academic curiosities. My decision to attend Foster for my MBA was also very deliberate, and I plan to be very intentional with how I spend my time in order to accomplish my goals and support my community.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 accelerated my decision to pivot to a career path that is more versatile long-term and more flexible across industries than my most recent role. I realized I would rather gain a skillset that has more longevity and potential for successful remote work. In my personal life, the pandemic gave me time to reflect on my experiences and to think hard about my identity. It helped me gain perspective, prioritize my relationships, and to define how I want to spend my time going forward.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Aside from wanting a more flexible career path, my decision to pursue an MBA was driven by a desire to cultivate more welcoming environments. As an engineer working in a niche field, I didn’t have much agency to manage the culture of my workplace, and I rarely, if ever, have had a “diverse” manager. I want to drive change in this respect. In my MBA, I hope to learn concrete ways to increase support and representation of queer people and people of color, to increase accessibility, and to center equity in all aspects of business.

After graduation, I hope to work in biotech or healthcare. Both of my parents work as medical professionals, and I am passionate and curious about the intersection of tech and health care. I am still exploring functional areas, but I am initially drawn to operations, likely due to my background.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Besides Foster, I applied to UCLA Anderson.  Location was a priority, and I could only see myself in Seattle or LA. I was also set on being a part of the Consortium, and I only considered applying to Consortium schools.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Washington Foster’s MBA program? Admissions and career management are truly there to help you! I talked to multiple members of Foster’s career management and administrative staff, and they were always very helpful. I think building those relationships before applying helped my admission. It’s also important to demonstrate that your values align with Foster’s values.


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