Meet The Texas McCombs MBA Class Of 2025

It all comes down to those first days in business school. For schools, the goal is easing the transition and setting the culture. For students, the moment revolves around meeting the right people, making the right impression, and choosing the right opportunities. At the University of Texas’ McCombs School, the first weeks are the time when classmates turn into McHomies. Call them a family for life, the people who’ll always back you up and bring out your best.

Ruslan Ismayil, a native of Azerbaijan who became a small business consultant in Canada, points to orientation. Here, he was struck by how his McHomies were a melting pot of nationalities and professional experiences. At a time when first-years were steadying their nerves and grappling with a new setting, Ismayil praised the second-years for getting everyone on track.

“The support from our immediate seniors, the second-year MBA students, is incredibly overwhelming. Whether it’s guiding us to snag that coveted internship, offering invaluable advice on courses, or simply showing us the best spots to relax around Austin, their wisdom and willingness to lend a hand has been a beacon.”

FINDING A HOME

Caitlin McHugh is equally “Horns Up” about the MBA Class of 2025. She connected with her McHomies when they volunteered to clean an Austin youth summer camp – in 100-degree temperatures, no less.  James Craig Jones vividly remembers his first day at McCombs. His dining companions included an entrepreneur who’d sold his Fintech company and an investment banker looking to enter mining. Despite being an international student, Viraj Adesara loved how she has “never been made to feel like an outsider” by her McHomies.

“The people are very helpful and welcoming. One of my favorite moments was way before orientation started when one of my classmates offered to pick us international students from the airport and to stay with his family in case we didn’t have our accommodation finalized. That was when I realized that I’ve come to the right place.”

Ray Tang calls his fellow students and alumni “inspirational” for staying late to help others with their homework or even offering their apartments to the displaced early on. However, the real McCombs differentiator was revealed during orientation, when first-years didn’t hold back during the storytelling session.

“We shared our life stories within our groups,” adds Tang. “It was a truly unfiltered experience, with everyone being open and vulnerable, despite having met only a few days prior. These are the conversations that cultivate the strongest friendships, and I’m honored to be surrounded by such powerfully authentic characters!”

Caption: Texas McCombs students with their camping gear on their McCombs Adventure Program trip in Alaska.

LEARNING BUISINESS FUNDAMENTALS THROUGH THE MILITARY

Tang himself launched a 24-hour hackathon in aviation. Drawing 200 people, he describes it as the largest event of its kind in Hong Kong. True to the Class of 2025’s international spirit, Ebube Israel-Bolarinwa led the planning and construction of a plastic waste plant in her native Nigeria. Kate Tully, a Texas native, worked in an International Justice Mission in Northern Uganda for a year. After gaining experience in global development, Ruslan Ismayil immigrated to Canada to train prospective entrepreneurs who often faced obstacles beyond funding and experience.

“Picture a skilled chef, with the talent to whip up gourmet dishes, but shackled by poverty. Or a resilient woman, left in the lurch by her husband, and subsequently by society, her dreams of economic empowerment stifle,” Ismayil writes. “Recognizing the entrepreneurial spirit within many of them, I transitioned to working as a small business consultant. This role allowed me to witness and catalyze the beautiful evolution of these individuals. From budding entrepreneurs to established business owners, they not only secured their futures but also became pillars of support for others, creating job opportunities and fostering community growth…In a world that often measures success by personal gain, I choose to measure mine by the smiles I’ve helped carve, the dreams I’ve seen realized, and the lives that have [been] transformed.”

14% of the class has also served in the military. That includes Michael Owens Jr., a Marine Intelligence Officer. His classmate, James Craig Jones, rose to become an Infantry Commander in the U.S. Army. He developed a training curriculum that he estimates saved the taxpayers over a million dollars. For Nanci Espinoza, the U.S. Marines spurred her transformation into a successful financial professional.

“This decision tested my limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was through these struggles that I discovered the depth of my determination and resilience. I faced many challenges with my fellow Marines, supporting and motivating each other through the toughest times.”

BRINGING ART TO HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

The class also boasts some serious academic credentials. Exhibit A: Vergi Agustini, who is pursuing a dual MPA-MBA at McCombs. Two years ago, she published a research paper on real estate economics: “Redevelopment along arterial streets: The effects of light rail on land use change”. At Harvard Business School, Chastity Lovely worked as a program lead.

“I helped design and implement a program that brought world renowned artists to share their experiences with MBA students and help broaden their horizons,” she writes. “Working closely with faculty, I was able to meet artists like Yo Yo Ma and Simone Leigh and develop a series of programs that brought them to our community. This was during the height of COVID, so everyone was starving for some connection, creativity, and intellectual stimulation. In the end, it was wonderful to see how our community reacted to bringing such amazing folks to present and perform and I know that it helped our MBA students think of the world in a slightly different way.”

While Kate Tully holds a Master’s in Global Crime, her real passion has been entrepreneurship. “The last four years I’ve been building a business called Kefi Pickleball. My job title is Director of Play, which means…everything/whatever it needs to mean. We learned a lot on the fly – including all the things we don’t know, especially with a couple of brands that have real potential to scale. So that’s what led to the command decision to apply for business school.”

Interior of the McCombs School of Business

A CLASS PROFILE

During the 2022-2023 cycle, McCombs was one of the few full-time MBA programs to enjoy an increase in applications. Overall, the class features 241 students, who range in age from 25-34 and possess 3-10 years of work experience on average. Women and international students account for 35% and 26% of the class respectively, with 18% of the class being underrepresented minorities. As a whole, the Class of 2025 hails from 31 countries.

This year, the class averaged a 704 GMAT score, with verbal and quant averages coming in at 160 and 161 respectively. As undergraduates, the class sported a 3.46 GPA average. In addition, 17% of the class already holds advanced degrees and 20% identify as first-generation students. Overall, the class attended 152 undergraduate institutes. 35% of the class earned Business and Economics degrees, followed by STEM (32%) and Humanities (13%).

“Well-rounded” is one term used to describe the McCombs MBA. Call it a ‘complete’ program, where the school is ranked among the very best in every discipline. According to the annual U.S. News survey of business school deans and directors, McCombs reigns as America’s top MBA program for Accounting – and top 10 for Information Systems, Project Management, Real Estate, Business Analytics, and Entrepreneurship (and 11th for Marketing and Management). Among students surveyed by The Princeton Review, McCombs’ Marketing and Consulting curriculum posted top 10 scores, all while the campus ranked 5th for being Family Friendly.

BIG SCHOOL SCALE WITH SMALL SCHOOL BENEFITS

In terms of scale, McCombs boasts Top 10 Undergraduate Business and Executive MBA programs. The program is housed in Rowling Hall, a nearly 500,000 square foot marvel that borders Austin’s vibrant downtown. At the University of Texas, business ranks alongside football as the centerpiece of the community. Each year, there are over 6,500 working towards degrees in business at the school, with another 6,000 students minoring in the field. And that doesn’t count the half-million graduates who earned their degrees at UT. The best part? These graduates look out for students. In an annual survey of students and recent alums released by The Financial Times in February, McCombs ranked 11th in the world for alumni engagement and effectiveness.

These facts wouldn’t come as any surprise to Michael Owens Jr. “The defining aspect of Texas McCombs’ MBA program that captivated me is its strong and influential network. This network embodies the essence of Texas and Austin, characterized by collaboration, community, and innovation. As a native Texan and Austinite, I’ve always viewed The University of Texas as an emblem of Texas pride, determination, and creativity. Joining McCombs isn’t just about acquiring an MBA for me; it’s about immersing myself in a legacy that resonates with my core values and intentions.”

For some, a 52,000-student campus might be intimidating. However, Caitlin McHugh notes the school takes pain to bring a more intimate experience to MBAs. “One of the key aspects of the Texas McCombs’ MBA programming that influenced my choice was the smaller class sizes. I wanted an experience that encouraged me to establish more personal connections with fellow students, actively participate in class discussions, and take on leadership positions within clubs and organization.”

Next Page: An interview with Assistant Dean Tina Mabley

Page 3: Profiles of 12 Members of the Class of 2025

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