Meet The TCU Neeley MBA Class Of 2024

Great things often come in small packages. Great MBAs often come from small programs.

Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business has a close-knit MBA program that has already produced graduates who have achieved outsized impact in their industries. The 34 students in the MBA Class of 2024 hope to follow their example and make waves of their own.

They call it the Neeley Promise. The Neeley School of Business “unleashes human potential with leadership at the core and innovation in our spirit.” It’s embodied by MBAs like Lindsay Dixon, Class of 2020, founder of META Education Inc., which aims to provide more personalized learning options for high school students; by Clint Robertson, a CPA, licensed attorney, mediator, contractor, broker, developer, and mentor who graduated at the top of his accounting class at Neeley in 1992 and who currently co-hosts HGTV’s Boise Boys; and by the students in the current MBA class, who include professional soccer players, Air Force linguists, fighter jet engineers, licensed attorneys, bankers, entrepreneurs, accountants, and more.


D’Angalo Jackson, a sales experience manager with Park Place Dealerships, earned his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University. A first-generation American on his mother’s side of the family, Jackson says he is looking forward to engaging with executives through Neeley’s C-Level Confidential Forums, in which small groups of MBA students interact with an executive-level leader in an intimate and unscripted setting. “I look forward to hearing from C-level executives regarding their career paths, the dynamics in their industries, and their advice for MBA students like myself,” he says. “These forums will provide me with opportunities to explore what it is like to work in various fields, and what it takes to get there.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Jennifer Castillo came to Neeley after serving in the U.S. Air Force, she worked Middle Eastern missions for the National Security Agency as an Arab linguist. Castillo is excited about the potential she seems in her new home in Dallas-Fort Worth, one of the fastest growing cities in the country and the fourth largest metropolitan in the U.S.. “TCU Neeley is at the forefront of finance and new currencies across business schools in the country and they have an incredible entrepreneurship program,” says Castillo, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Pepperdine University. “I came back to school, specifically to TCU Neeley, to equip myself with the tools necessary to disrupt my industry and take it to the next level.”

Sarah Barwinski was an account representative for Dallas-based software company ISN before joining Neeley’s MBA program. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurial management, Barwinski chose TCU’s B-school for its “intentionality,” as well as its global network of alumni. “It is evident throughout the entirety of the programming that the student has been considered holistically, taking into account the details and minutia that ultimately compound to create the incredible experience that is earning a degree from TCU Neeley,” she says. “While the education we are receiving in the classroom is of the highest quality, the softer skills that TCU Neeley is helping us hone may be even more valuable.”

Our robust, global alumni network gives MBA students the opportunity to spend quality time with c-level executives around the world at our C-level Confidential events. Here, students gain insights into c-level executives’ lives in the corporate business environment. MBA students recently met with Carlos Treadway MBA ’05, CEO of Ford Credit Europe.


Josh Grant came to the Neeley School from Lockheed Martin, where the electrical engineer worked on both the F-35 and F-22 fighter jet programs. Like many in his cohort, he points to the Neeley & Associates Consultants program, in which students complete paid contracts for real-world clients, as a big part of why he chose the school. “It is real-world experience in an academic environment,” Grant says, which he knows from experience is the most valuable kind of learning, having benefited at Lockheed from similar classes he took at Auburn University, where he went for undergrad. “Neeley & Associates Consultants will give me this same opportunity to take part in a real-world activity in a consulting context with unique problems where a resolution can add real value to a company instead of simply adding points towards a letter grade,” Grant days. “In addition, I will gain insightful experience into what business consulting looks like, which will help me refine my approach to business problems. The nature of Neeley & Associates Consultants will prepare me in a unique way to become a consultant.”

Van Nguyen already holds an MBA from National Taiwan University. So why did the product manager for Cathay United Bank want to get another from the Neeley School? The experiential learning opportunities, she says, particularly the Educational Investment Fund in which students manage a $1.75 million portfolio.
“After years of working in commercial banking and serving corporate clients, I wanted to make a career shift to investments and accumulate more global investment experience,” says Nguyen, a native of Vietnam. “The EIF, one of the world’s oldest investment funds run by students, seemed like a great place to start!” The fund  entrusts students with real-world investment decisions and investment management, and alumni of the fund “have influenced organizations and fellow communities across the country,” Nguyen says. “I really wanted to join TCU Neeley to be a part of this experience.”

Brendan Hartman is a double Horned Frog, having earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from TCU. A consultant for information technology company Cervello, Hartman didn’t need to be sold on the advantages of a Neeley MBA or its alumni network. “Not only does the Neeley School claim a host of successful business leaders as alumni,” he says, “but the graduates take care of their fellow Horned Frogs, and are more than willing to connect with TCU students to lend a helping hand.” That’s a real bonus in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, a major hub for international business with “incredible” job prospects. “In the last decade Dallas-Fort Worth benefited from several large corporations — including AT&T and Toyota — relocating their headquarters to the area,” Hartman notes. “The metroplex’s robust job market influenced my decision to earn my MBA locally at TCU to leverage the myriad opportunities boasted by the metroplex.”


It’s not every MBA program that can boast having a doctor of jurisprudence in its student ranks. Adam Bowling earned his JD from Stanford University, and worked as an associate attorney at DLA Piper LLP. When he decided to get his MBA, Neeley’s experiential offerings really stood out. “In particular,” Bowling says, “the new Horned Frog Investment Network powered by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Neeley School of Business stood out as an opportunity to leverage TCU’s business expertise in support of active deals.” MBA students, he adds, need critical skills to thrive in a world of high-stakes corporate transactions. “Coming from a legal background, this program provides an ideal platform to experience transactions from a different perspective, broaden my work history and strengthen my professional network,” Bowling says.

For Ishita Mathur, an assistant manager with Ernst & Young, Neeley’s experiential offerings were a big part of the school’s appeal. Like several others, she cites Neeley & Associates Consultants; but she also points to the school’s Consulting Club, which regularly hosts industry thought leaders as guest speakers. “For example, the consulting bootcamp helped me understand the structure of case-based interviewing, which is critical in today’s business world,” Mathur, a native of India, says. “The speakers were executives representing well-known consulting companies who provided valuable insights of how to succeed in the role. I feel the Consulting Club provides the right tools for a future career in consulting.”

Irene Kwihangana knew coming to Neeley that he wanted to pivot into consulting. The engineer and first-generation college student, an engineer for the the largest and the only integrated cement producer in his native Rwanda, saw the small MBA program as an opportunity to get close instruction from professors and develop stronger relationships with colleagues. “TCU for me was not just a school: it has become a family,” Kwihangana says. “I wanted a small MBA program where I have access to the best faculty and know that I have a support system that wants me to succeed and maximize my potential as a global leader. And I get that at TCU Neeley.”

Small, high-energy classes allow students to connect personally with our top-ranked TCU MBA faculty, many of whom have owned their own businesses or held influential positions with leading companies. Most importantly, they are talented educators who help students discover new ways of looking at business, the world and themselves.


For Emily Donald, a food scientist and research technologist for Daisy Brand, it’s all about the personalized attention that TCU Neeley offers. “Prior to and after admission, members of the admissions team and second-year MBA students checked in with me,” says Donald, who has family who graduated from TCU “and seeing how the connections they made at TCU helped their career really made me want to be a part of it.” At Neeley, she adds, “I am not just a number: everyone really cares about me and my success.”

Busayo Omopariola, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, plays professional; soccer in Africa. He wad also a financial advisor for Shell Nigeria. What brought him all the way to Fort Worth and TCU Neeley? “Career development is at the top of my list of priorities for what I was looking for in an MBA program,” Omopariola says, “and TCU Neeley offers excellent resources to ensure I achieve my professional goals. The faculty will equip me with the technical and professional knowledge to advance my career. The office of Graduate Student Success (how cool is that name?) offers one-on-one career coaching and mentoring to support my job search and future career path, and TCU Neeley’s academic advisers provide the necessary flexibility for me to select classes and activities that match my unique goals.” In short, he adds, an MBA from the TCU Neeley School of Business “will prepare me for the career of my dreams.”

Hongjian Liu saw TCU Neeley as the best opportunity to further his career — a career that already includes working as a government attorney in the Beijing Municipality Civil Service following bachelor’s, MPA, and law degrees in his native China and Germany. “The excellent Career Services at the TCU Neeley School of Business and outstanding career outcomes of MBA alumni were definitely a big draw for me,” Liu says. “When I interviewed for the MBA program, I was told: ‘TCU Neeley will help you secure your post-MBA position from day one.’ When I came to TCU Neeley, I found that to be true. Faculty and staff really care about our career success, and the MBA alumni are extremely sincere and helpful.” International students who face hurdles because of language barriers, cultural differences, and immigration status need extra help, Liu says; “TCU Neeley is like a family: the atmosphere here is friendly, not competitive. If you want to succeed with a bunch of smart people who look out for each other, TCU Neeley is the right place for you.”


This year’s full-time MBA class at TCU Neeley School of Business includes 34 students, which is even with the previous year; the small size facilitates a close-knit cohort experience and a high level of engagement between faculty and students. The MBA Class of 2024 brings a 3.36 undergraduate GPA and a 617 average GMAT to TCU Neeley. The average GRE score of 316 is up 13 points over the previous year. Fifteen percent of the class is comprised of underrepresented minorities from the U.S.; 35% of this year’s class is international, down 3 percentage points from the previous year, as the school has aimed to be more purposeful with its recruitment of domestic students. As a whole, eight countries are represented in the Class of 2024.

Academically, 9% of the class majored in engineering, while business and finance majors make up 35% of the class, and economics and sciences combine to comprise 26%. Four students, or just over 10% of the class, came in with a previous advanced degree, and two students are CFA charter holders. This is an experienced class, with an average of six years of work experience and an average age of 30 years old.

Next Page: Anne Rooney, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at Neeley

Page 3: Profiles Of 12 TCU Neeley First-Year MBAs

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