Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Terrell Smith, University of Rochester (Simon)

Terrell Smith

University of Rochester, Simon Business School

“Passionate catalyst for equitable change and justice, forever pursing historical and current knowledge and understanding.”

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I absolutely love to travel and see as much of the world as possible. To date, I have visited 19 countries.

Undergraduate School and Major:

St. John Fisher University – BA in Sociology and Criminology

University of Rochester – MS in Education Policy

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Coordinated Care Services – DEI Operations Manager; The Hub585 – Board Member

Rochester Simon is known for being “unabashedly analytical.” Why does the program’s focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeal to you? How do you intend to leverage this approach as a student and professional? Simon’s strong focus on quantitative analysis and decision-making appeals to me because I believe the most successful leaders are data-informed and responsibly use that data to make decisions that lead to the most efficient and equitable outcomes. Therefore, I intend to use this approach and skillset to create innovative business solutions and advocate for traditionally marginalized, minoritized, and under-resourced communities.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Rochester Simon’s MBA curriculum or programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Very early, I experienced an investment and interest in me that I haven’t received as quickly in other settings. From the first conversation, I felt welcomed, valued, validated, and comfortable throughout the application process. The authenticity and support I received while making my decision led me to choose Simon Business School.

I also knew I would enter an excellent learning environment when I saw that Simon was ranked the #1 Most Diverse Top-50 MBA program by U.S. News & World Report in 2021. Diversity isn’t meant to be a box checked to make others happy and say it’s done. Simon is intentional about acquiring diverse candidates, cultures, and experiences from all over the world and prioritizes every single one of their candidates throughout the entire process. This has created one of the most unique learning environments I have ever been a part of. We all benefit immensely from this shared capital of knowledge, experience, culture, and opportunity.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Rochester Simon? What excites me most about Simon Business School is the experiential learning opportunities that Simon offers, such as Simon Vision Consulting, Simon School Venture Capital Fund, and the Meliora Fund. Each provides the opportunity to learn in a structured and safe environment with real-world applications to prepare us for the workforce once we graduate. I want to take advantage of every opportunity available!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment has been the ability to give back to my community in Rochester, NY. Every position I have had has been in public service and has gifted me the opportunity to meet amazing people and positively impact their lives, both directly and indirectly. The most rewarding experience I’ve had was my time as a second grade teacher in the City of Rochester for five years. I’ve never had a teacher whom I could identify with as a Black man, and to know that I filled that role for some of my past students is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I enjoy listening to podcasts during my morning and evening commute. My favorite lately has been NPR’s “The Limits” with Jay Williams. Each episode is an interview with some of today’s most successful business leaders, musicians, and athletes in the world. It focuses on how each individual pushed past their limits and rose to the level of success they experience today. It is excellent motivation to learn the secrets and strategies of each of these people and internalize that I have just as much of a chance to reach the same level of success, if not greater, as them. I highly recommend it!

Looking ahead two years, what would make your MBA experience successful? There are so many moments that would make my MBA experience successful. To name a few, I want to look back with confidence and say that I fully immersed myself in every opportunity to learn new skills, grow as a leader, and support my classmates. Also, I absolutely cannot wait to witness the journey and success of my entire community at Simon, both during the program and after we graduate. We all win after we complete this journey together, and it will be such a wonderful moment walking on that stage together.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Simon’s MBA program? First, make sure you do your research about the school. Simon has invested so much into their community and programming, so make sure you check out everything it has to offer! Write down some highlights about Simon that excite you the most, and share that with Simon recruiters when you speak with them.

Secondly, bring your authentic self to any conversation or interview. Simon wants to know who you are, your experiences, and your motivations in life. They want to know the person behind the professional and see that you have a growth mindset and thirst for knowledge. The school genuinely values character and diversity, and the community works diligently to grow and sustain an inclusive environment.


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