Reflections: Class of 2015 Graduates

The Foster Evening MBA is known for its collaborative culture, thanks to its students who enjoy helping others succeed. In true Foster form, recent graduates from the Class of 2015 share their takeaways from the Evening MBA Program.

Greg Uratsu

Greg Uratsu, Evening MBA Class of 2015
Greg Uratsu, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Top Foster Evening MBA takeaway: “I found that the best way to enhance your experience at Foster is to trust your classmates and get out of your comfort zone with them – both in and outside of the classroom.”

Advice for incoming students: “Time stops for no one; if you have time and interest in a Foster event – do it now!  A future unforeseen event may occur and you may never be able to attend later.”

Owen Ho

Owen Ho, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Top Foster Evening MBA takeaway: “Stay curious. Always be helpful to your friends, classmates, and people around you.  Relationship is the key.  Like Dan Poston & Tim Hossain mentioned at orientation, focus on mastering the 3Cs (Competency, Connection, Confidence) and live the Foster values.”

Advice for incoming students: “Be resourceful, take interesting risks, make amazing mistakes, and don’t let people’s opinions drown out your inner voice.”

2015 Foster Evening MBA Service Awards

A portion of commencement is dedicated to recognizing one student and one faculty/staff member with the Service Award, as voted on by the Class of 2015. This year, there was a tie between two incredible faculty/staff. Congratulations to Adam Rubens, Lloyd Tanlu, and Tim Hossain!

Class of 2015  Commencement
Class of 2015 Commencement

Chris Cunningham shares his appreciation for his fellow classmate at commencement:

Adam Rubens, Evening MBA Class of 2015
Adam Rubens, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Each year, the evening MBA votes on the student service award. This year, our recipient is a good friend and familiar face to so many in the program. Students describe Adam Rubens as “involved in all things foster,” ” friendly, welcoming and kind without ever exhibiting ego.” I personally can attest to his willingness to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. He takes care to make everyone feel included, contributes thoughtful, creative work in the classroom, and his contributions on the MBAA board have been recognized across campus.

Adam Rubens describes what makes Foster Evening MBA faculty & staff unique:

Top tier MBA programs are reliant on faculty and staff who make a profound impact on the educational trajectory of the students.  In the Evening MBA program we measure that impact in terms of passion, connection, knowledge, and a willingness to go beyond the classroom to engage our minds in our concurrently progressing careers.  A great staff or faculty member challenges us like Apple to “Think Different”, like Nike to “Just Do It”, and like Sprite to “Obey Your Thirst”…for knowledge.

Lloyd Award
Lloyd Tanlu, Professor of Accounting, accepts his Service Award.

The winner of this year’s faculty/staff award exemplifies all of these criteria and more.  Professor Lloyd Tanlu is known for driving the Foster student experience both inside and outside the classroom. While his reputation is sometimes synonymous with a generous love of red meat and uncanny ability to remember all of his students, there are few people who can make quarterly budgeting, balanced scorecards, and corporate governance as interesting and meaningful as this professor.

Class of 2015 graduates celebrate Tim Hossain and Lloyd Tanlu.
Class of 2015 graduates celebrate Tim Hossain and Lloyd Tanlu.
Naomi Sanchez, Assistant Dean for MBA Career Management, congratulates Tim Hossain on his award.
Naomi Sanchez, Assistant Dean for MBA Career Management, congratulates Tim Hossain on his award.

This year, we had an honest to goodness tie in the voting for this award.  For our second winner I think this quote from a nominating student sums it up well-  “I’ve never had a faculty/staff member that cared so much about the lives, goals, and accomplishments of individual students.  He really shows how much he cares daily and goes well above and beyond to support this program”.  I am proud to personally call Tim Hossain a mentor and am joined by the rest of the 2015 Evening MBA class when I thank him for all the hard work he puts in on a regular basis to make this an incredible and valuable experience for all of us.

Tim Hossain, Evening MBA Director of Student Affairs, accepts his Service Award.
Tim Hossain, Evening MBA Director of Student Affairs, accepts his award.

Outstanding Students from the Class of 2015 Recognized at Graduation

One of the highlights of the academic year at Foster is the opportunity to recognize students who represent all that Foster stands for and who consistently strive to make a difference.

2015 Evening MBA Outstanding MBA Student Award

Every year, the faculty and staff have the pleasure of nominating a graduating student who has, during her or his time in the program, exhibited a broad range of qualities which are held in high esteem by the University of Washington, including contribution to the UW Foster MBA community; contribution to the community at large; business professionalism; leadership; and class representation.

The two recipients of the Outstanding Evening MBA Student Awards made major contributions to the Foster Evening MBA Program inside and outside of the classroom.  They truly embody what it means to be a Foster MBA. Foster is proud of them and has previously highlighted their experience in spotlight videos. Congratulations, Lisa Dahlby and Allison Waddell!

Lisa Dahlby and Allison Waddell, the 2015 Evening MBA Outstanding MBA Award recipients.
Lisa Dahlby and Allison Waddell, the 2015 Evening MBA Outstanding MBA Award recipients.

Lisa Dahlby

Lisa Dahlby, Evening MBA Class of 2015
Lisa Dahlby, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Lisa took it upon herself to forge strong relationships with all of her professors.  She worked hard with both administration and faculty on creating a strong academic experience for her classmates.  She  instituted a standardized mid-quarter feedback session for all core faculty and facilitated the discussion with strong professionalism.  Economics professor Ed Rice had this to say about her:

“She served her fellow students as a strong advocate for academic excellence.  Lisa is as an example of how to make the most of the program by having a positive attitude, caring about fellow students and challenging yourself. ”

Allison and Lisa with fellow classmates on graduation day.
Lisa and Allison with fellow classmates on graduation day.

Outside of the classroom, Lisa served as the Evening MBA representative to the Master’s Program Committee, a superstar Ambassador and  a Vice-President in the MBA Association.

Beyond her leadership, she will be remembered for her constant professionalism and dedication to the Foster School of Business.

Lisa shares why she chose Foster: “I knew this was my calling. The MBA makes you look at the world in a different way and it makes you a much better citizen of the world.”


Allison Waddell

Allison Waddell, Evening MBA Class of 2015
Allison Waddell, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Many in the Evening MBA Program call Allison “THE Face of Foster”.  When Allison started the program she knew the MBA Program was not just a set of academic courses, but an overall experience that reached beyond the classroom.  This quote from her nomination sums it up:

“She arrived at Foster and quickly became a face of the program. Her ebullient personality, willingness to roll up her sleeves and work with anyone to get the job done, and her genuine interest in learning more about people made her well-liked by her classmates. As she went through the program, she continued to shine as a leader. Whether it was finding effective ways to communicate to all Evening students or just lending a helping hand, her presence was felt by everyone during her time at Foster. She has the knack and drive to go anywhere and be extremely successful in her future endeavors – and Foster’s Evening MBA Program will be extremely lucky to count her as an alumna.”

Allison joins Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs, on stage to accept her award.
Allison joins Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs, on stage to accept her award.

Allison shares the most memorable aspect of her Foster experience: “I will never forget the people I met through Foster. The faculty, staff, students, and alumni are what make Foster great and it is those relationships that I will never forget.”

Rita Jabbouri: “It’s all about the team”

Meet Rita Jabbouri, the Admissions Team’s new Social Media & Blog Coordinator for the Evening MBA program. An important aspect of Rita’s position is connecting prospective students with the Foster community through social media. Rita is a “Double Dawg,” having earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Foster. She is passionate about the value of a Foster MBA and is happy to give future students an inside look at Foster through the perspective of current students, faculty, and staff. Rita will assist with most Admissions events and looks forward to meeting you!

Rita Jabbouri, Evening MBA Class of 2017
Rita Jabbouri, Evening MBA Class of 2017

Name: Rita Jabbouri
Graduation Year: 2017
Pre-MBA Profession: Branch Manager at U.S. Bank
Post-MBA Aspirations: Finance or Marketing at an industry-leading organization

What is your favorite part of the Foster MBA experience?

My team! Foster places an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration because that is what employers expect upon graduation. To be successful, leaders must not only understand how to work effectively in teams, but actually live it. It has been a pleasure working with Daniel Webb, Edward Galloway, Logan Fouts, Nhi Le, and our peer mentor Mark Smedley. I learn just as much from them as I do from the classroom. They are some of the smartest, most down-to-earth people I have ever met and I know these friendships will last beyond the program.

My favorite thing about each of my teammates:

Daniel Webb: Daniel is our “big idea” person. When we get lost in the details, we can always count on Daniel to help us see how everything fits into the big picture.

Edward Galloway: We call Edward “the consultant in the room.” You’ll never see him without a smile on his face, but if we start to get sidetracked during a team meeting, Edward will jump in to keep us focused.

Rita and her team at the Frosters, the annual winter ball for the Evening Program
Rita and her team at the Frosters, the annual winter ball for the Evening Program

Logan Fouts: Logan is great at finding alternative methods to explain a concept. He will sometimes draw a picture on the whiteboard to illustrate a point that may have been difficult to grasp otherwise. Logan also has a great sense of humor- you might hear a roar of laughter if you walk past our team room.

Nhi Le: Nhi is our accounting and finance expert. We say she has “magical Excel powers” because she really is that good! She will also throw in a joke or two when we least expect it, which makes our team meetings even more engaging and fun.

Mark Smedley: Mark has been a fantastic peer mentor. As a second year student, he has already been through the challenging first year experience. Mark provides advice to help us get the most out of the program. He is also instrumental in encouraging us to explore ways we can get involved in extracurricular activities at Foster.

How did we create excellent team dynamics? We built a team culture based on respect and focused on learning. When one person on the team is stuck on a concept, the rest of the team is eager to provide different explanations that lead to a deeper understanding of the material. Our goal as a team is to help each other be successful by offering each other advice, bringing out the best in each other, and making the Foster MBA experience a fun and memorable one. When we come across a challenge on a marketing or finance case, someone will jump in with some humor and have the entire team laughing and energized to complete the rest of the case. We all know we can count on each other and we are committed to each other’s success. Meeting these unique individuals and learning from them inspired me to get involved in the MBA Association as Vice President of Community Outreach. Every single student at Foster has a story to share and expertise to offer. My goal is to discover others’ strengths, showcase what makes each student unique, and help make the Foster experience meaningful for everyone.

Rita, her team and their Peer Mentor Mark, get ready for the Foster Fun Run
Rita, her team and their Peer Mentor Mark, get ready for the Foster Fun Run
Rita's team meets to go over a marketing case
Rita’s team meets to go over a marketing case

What is your favorite elective and why?

One of the benefits of Foster’s Evening MBA program is the ability to take electives in areas that are most interesting to you. From advanced accounting to a class about finding your authentic voice, electives offer the opportunity to dig deeper and grow further.

We asked current student and alumni what their favorite electives were and why (and note, names like Koski, Forehand and Stearns are fan favorites):

Jana Morrelli, Evening MBA 2014
Jana Morrelli, Evening MBA 2014

Jana Morelli
Class of 2014

Lance Young’s Entrepreneurial Finance! Hard but gave me a confidence I never would have believed.

 

Eric Seeb, Class of 2012
Eric Seeb, Class of 2012

Eric Seeb
Class of 2012

I second Jana’s choice but would also include Stearns’s Advertising class!  Excellence is demanded (similar to Lance), worked on a real world problem, fascinating subject matter, cases, and speakers!  We had a VP from Charles Schwab come and critique our solutions to the HBR business case written about Schwab.  Class would regularly continue past 9:30 at the students discretion because of the great discussions.

Julie Olden, Class of 2013
Julie Olden, Class of 2013

Julie Olden
Class of 2013

Jennifer Koski’s Problems in Corporate Finance. Koski’s interactive teaching style keeps students engaged (and dare I say excited) about corporate finance. Course content centers around cases that depict business issues that actually occurred, making the class takeaways applicable in the real world.

Sarah Eytinge, Class of 2014
Sarah Eytinge, Class of 2014

Sarah Eytinge
Class of 2014

Two classes come to mind: I loved Entrepreneurial Marketing with Andy Boyer. While I didn’t plan on pursuing my own entrepreneurial venture, I love how the class gave us the opportunity to develop an idea from infancy into a full fledged business plan and create a marketing plan for it. Throughout the quarter, we heard from dozens of individuals who have successfully, and unsuccessfully, started their own companies. At the end of the quarter,  teams presented their ideas to a panel of potential investors. It was great hands on learning and I was surprised at how I learned so much that could be attributed to my own career. I also loved Women at the Top with Cate Goethals. Cate brings in awesome speakers who are not only extremely successful, but who are also incredibly open to sharing their stories with the class. I took this elective in my first year and found it to be incredibly inspiring and a great way to frame my next three years in business school.

Graham Mills, Class of 2015
Graham Mills, Class of 2015

Graham Mills
Class of 2015

Direct Marketing has been my favorite elective so far for two reasons:

  1. Elizabeth Stearns is one of the most knowledgeable, dynamic, passionate, and tough teachers the school has. She will make you work for it, but you are going to learn a lot.
  2. Direct marketing is pretty much what marketing is all about. It combines the strategy, creative, and execution elements of marketing, and focuses on how you get people to actually make the purchase. The guest speakers are fantastic, and Stearns makes sure you are prepared for real world expectations.
Tim Hossain, Class of 2012
Tim Hossain, Class of 2012

Tim Hossain
Class of 2012

My favorite elective was MGMT 545: Leading and Managing High-Performance Organizations.  This course addresses leadership as a topic separate from management.  Effective leadership involves setting a tone, a focus, and a direction for an organization, its members, and other stakeholders. In contrast, effective management involves executing against the direction and tone set by the leadership. Individuals are not either leaders or managers, but a mixture of leadership and management, and the exact mix depends upon the situation, the role, and the person.   In this course you learn about your own leadership style and how you best relate to members of your organization.  It’s a must take!

Allison Waddell, Class of 2015
Allison Waddell, Class of 2015

Allison Waddell
Class of 2015

I would say Brand Management (Marketing 512) with Mark Forehand. The class was interesting, thought provoking, and challenging. Mark’s lecture style is informative and entertaining, making a 3.5 hour class fly by! The course was also full of practical/experiential learning that allowed us to apply the lecture learning to live cases throughout the quarter. The cases were then judged by marketing professionals who are working in the industry and who gave incredibly insightful feedback. Overall, this was one of the best courses I have taken at Foster and was surprised when I did not want the quarter to end.

Ben Flajole, Evening MBAA President 2013-14
Ben Flajole, Evening MBAA President 2013-14

Ben Flajole
Class of 2014

My favorite elective was Jennifer Koski’s Problems in Corporate Planning and Financing. Going into the MBA program, I wanted to strengthen my understanding of finance. In taking two of Professor Koski’s electives, I graduated having accomplished my goal. The case method required a high level of preparation for each session, which pushed my comfort zones and enhanced my learning. She is so skilled at making advanced ideas immediately accessible and teaches topics in a clear and logical progression. At times I was in over my head, but that was exactly what I wanted!

Lisa Dahlby, Class of 2015
Lisa Dahlby, Class of 2015

Lisa Dahlby
Class of 2015

Brand Management with Mark Forehand. Great lectures, reading that made sense, projects that actually advanced the learning and a really enjoyable weekly 3 hours. Also a great class for better understanding your company brand and integration even if you never want to work in marketing.

Terence Yeung, Class of 2015
Terence Yeung, Class of 2015

Terence Yeung
Class of 2015

Professor Jennifer Koski brings enthusiasm and energy to her Finance classes (e.g. FIN 552) every single night that is unmatched by any other faculty at Foster. The class and Koski gave me invaluable finance knowledge and much improved business acumen.

Explore the Evening MBA curriculum by visiting the Evening MBA webpage.

Meet the new Ambassador Coordinator

Meet Janice Javier, the Admissions Team’s new Ambassador Coordinator for the Evening MBA program. When prospective students want to connect with current students, Janice serves as a matchmaker; when someone wants to observe an Evening MBA class, Janice arranges the visit. She’ll be at most Admissions events and looks forward to connecting with you!

Janice Javier, Evening MBA 2017, is the Ambassador Coordinator
Janice Javier, Evening MBA 2017, is the Ambassador Coordinator for the Evening MBA Program

Name: Janice Javier
Age: 28
Graduation Year: 2017

Pre-MBA Profession: Associate Director of Development for Year Up, a nonprofit organization that connects young adults who need opportunities with companies who need talent.

Post-MBA Aspirations: Operations or Finance at a for-profit social enterprise

 

What lead you to pursue an MBA?: After getting a Chemical Biology degree from UC Berkeley and working for the leadership team of a nonprofit organization, I realized I was missing some core business competencies.

Why did you choose Foster? 
I chose Foster because I was looking for a highly-structured MBA program that had the cohort experience. I knew I wanted a part-time program because I love my job and wasn’t ready to leave! I work for a rapidly-expanding organization that trains opportunity youth in marketable job skills, so I came to Foster to gain skills I need to be a part of that growth.

Why did you want to get involved as an MBA Ambassador?: I love connecting people! I’m organized and see this role as an opportunity to help our prospective students network with our current students. Many people come to Foster hoping to expand their network, and I definitely want to support that goal.

What has been your most valuable academic experience at Foster?: I’ve learned I love accounting! I’ve always been detail-oriented but for a science major, accounting is so foreign and intimidating. It helps that Wei Li, our first accounting professor, does such a good job of breaking it down for those of us who’ve never seen basic accounting concepts.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned at Foster so far?: I’ve learned about myself and my capacity for taking responsibilities on and learning new things. Since starting school I’ve taken on more responsibilities at work while getting involved at Foster. At first things are overwhelming but eventually things become routine and you can add on more experiences. Learning where this threshold is, and when I can push a little more, has been very valuable.

Summer Plans?: I am looking forward to taking a breather from school and re-energizing for fall quarter. But Seattle summer is so beautiful – I’m sticking around and enjoying the PNW!

Evening MBA Application Tips

The April 20th application deadline for the Evening MBA Program is approaching. Have questions about putting the finishing pieces on your application? Check out our application tip videos from members of the Admissions Team.

Resume and Work Experience
As an MBA applicant, you’ll need to submit a résumé describing your work experience and other relevant background. Erin Town, Director of MBA Admissions, describes what the admissions staff wants to see on your résumé.​

Academic Record
Your undergraduate academic track record, including your grade point average, is a useful indicator of your ability to succeed in a graduate program. If you weren’t a straight-A student and think there are some weaknesses in your record, there are ways to boost your chances of admission, advises Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs.​

Letters of Recommendation
As part of the application process for the Evening MBA Program, you’ll need to submit two letters of recommendation. Who should you ask to write the letters? How do you ensure that recommendations reflect your capabilities and motive for pursuing an MBA? Sarah Eytinge, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, has some tips for applicants.

GMAT and Standardized Tests
If you haven’t taken a lot of tests lately, admissions exams may cause some anxiety. Erin Town, Director of MBA Admissions, notes that many applicants take the test more than once and offers tips for preparing for the test so you can submit your best score.

Essays
The essays you write as part of your application to the Evening MBA Program help the admissions staff learn about who you are and why you want to earn an MBA. How should you approach writing the essays application to the Evening MBA Program? Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs, offers some suggestions.​

Evaluation Day
On Evaluation Day, applicants who are being considered for admission to the Evening MBA Program are invited to participate in group interviews. These interviews help the admissions staff assess your ability to present, to work on a team, and to lead. Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs, gives an overview.

Foster MBAs do Bollywood

The monthly TG* usually draws a big crowd but none larger than the annual “Indian TG.” Hosted by current students, this TG is popular because it is always filled with delicious food, fun music and, of course, a Bollywood dance! Check out this year’s student dance, performed during the Indian TG on April 10th.

* The origin of the “TG” event name has been explained differently over the years, but it is most commonly explained as a shortening of T.G.I.F. (Thank goodness it’s Friday). These events happen monthly throughout the year and each one always has a theme associated with it.

2014-15 MBAA Board President passes the torch to next year’s MBAA Board

Adam Rubens, always representing Foster and c4c, is bottling wine at a winery in Leavenworth.
Adam Rubens, always representing Foster and c4c, is bottling wine at a winery in Leavenworth.

Each year, the outgoing MBAA President offers a “State of the Program” at the conclusion of his or her tenure. This year’s president, Adam Rubens, gave his concluding remarks at the transition meeting on April 4th. Read what he shared below!

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” ― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

At the beginning of anything, it’s critical to have a direction, a plan of action, and a great team of people to work with.  On April 5th of last year, the 2014-2015 MBAA Board met for the first time to try work on developing those three elements and add new events and value to our members and the Evening MBA Program in general.    It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with that team.  I am proud of the way we embraced the challenges presented and set an example for future students by stretching the boundaries of what a volunteer board can accomplish.  Going from where we were to where we are had a lot to do with incremental growth, willingness to take some risks, and openness to ideas from all areas of student life.

Two years ago, the board was able to accomplish some significant inroads into evening student participation in social events and community building.  There were some herculean efforts from many board members, but it was challenging because we didn’t have the level of collaboration that kept the board cohesive, team-oriented, and accountable to each other.  We did a lot of good things on that board, but there was room for improvement.

Last year, we wanted to put more of a focus on building a support structure within the board so that we could function more as a team and hold each position to a higher standard while providing the tools to help get it done.  We wanted to improve the level of transparency, the quality of events, and impact on the Foster community and the community at large.  We sought to increase the value of the Foster experience and the participation of each student in the available academic and social events by following what we dubbed “the 4 Ps” – Planning, Promoting, Producing, & Pushing the Envelope.

Some of those initiatives were wildly successful, others provided good building blocks, and others were a struggle.  In hindsight, three things stand out as areas we could have improved on.  First, it was challenging to keep to the consistent organized structures that we created for ourselves.  Finding consistent and effective communication mediums also continues to be one of the greatest difficulties facing the MBAA.  Lastly, finding a better way to measure and track progress through various metrics would have been very helpful.

That said, we saw great progress in the last year:

  • We made changes to the EC titles that better reflect corporate board positions
  • We added further transparency and communication on what it means to be an MBAA Member
  • We had on Campus Happy Hours Galore!
  • We created fun, revenue generating events
  • We saw the largest number of evening students to C4C sports weekend ever
  • We won Fundraising at C4C – a big win for the evening program
  • We kicked off #OneFoster + the Scavenger Hunt and had some sweet swag
  • We had a huge evening turnout that was critical to the success of the C4C Auction this year
  • We launched a beautiful new website
  • We had a super-efficient election process
  • We had more evening club reps than ever before
  • We had another successful St. Jude’s Service Day
  • We created a new Alumni event in Wine Tasting with Alumni
  • We received extremely useful feedback for faculty from the mid-quarter reviews
  • We planned really fun and well attended on-campus BBQ for the new students & a great M’s Game
  • We had the biggest Foster Fun Run to date (double last year’s size and funds raised)
  • We saw MBAA membership grow to nearly 70% of the student population
  • We threw two parties that were probably a little “too good” in Frosters and Fosters with some amazing turnout
  • We planned a stand-up comedy act based on economics (don’t miss it on April 9th)
  • We had an evening driven effort to ratify The Out in Business Club that was the catalyst for a whole new VP Diversity position on the board and Diversity Council within Foster
  • We laid a foundation for future boards to continue to push the limits for an evening MBA program.

There is still room for improvement.

That said, you do have a solid foundation on which to grow and add your own flavor to the MBAA Board.  I have had a chance to meet and talk with all of you and I am truly excited to see what you can accomplish.

I will leave you with this advice based on two+ years of perspective:

  1. There is a delicate balance between giving people the benefit of the doubt, and holding them accountable. Everyone has a lot going on and everyone deserves to be cut a little slack sometimes.
  2. There are going to be moments where you have to say no to something you really want to do so that you can put the finishing touches on an event, come in for a Saturday meeting, or help out a board members with something they need you for. Make sure to make your position a priority more often than not.
  3. You are responsible for your position, but you are also responsible for your function as a team member on the board – its encouraged to ask questions, be an extra set of hands, and provide constructive feedback.
  4. Have fun! All work and no play makes for a tough year. Learn quickly from any struggles and move on. Celebrate your accomplishments. You will have lots of them. Keep pushing the envelope.

-Adam

Going Full Circle

Going Full Circle
by Nick Pernisco

The day was Evaluation Day in early 2014. I was nervous about the group activities we’d be participating in. Lots of questions rushed through my mind. What kind of things will they have us work on? Will I work well with the group? What will the evaluators think of me? All of these anxieties were put to rest when I stepped into the room and met the people who would be evaluating us. All three evaluators, a program director and two students, seemed genuinely interested in learning about each prospective student, and paid attention to our ideas during the exercises.  A particularly friendly face that day was Connor Kilpatric, a second-year evening student who I’d later learn was very involved in school activities. After being accepted into the program, I’d see Connor at the various admitted students happy hours and we would say hello to each other. He introduced me to others on the student board over the summer and made me feel at home around the upperclassman in the program.

Before I go on, I should say that I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I didn’t have some involvement in my community, and I knew the MBA would be no different. As soon as I entered the program, I sought out information about leadership opportunities, and I learned that I could make an early impact on my class by becoming class representative, so I ran in the fall election and was elected by my classmates.

Being class rep meant I had a seat at the table with the student board – one of the best places to be if you really want to make a profound difference in the program. I had the opportunity to meet more great student leaders along the way, like Adam Rubens (President), Chris Cunningham (VP of Academic Affairs), and Briana Rubens (VP of Community Outreach), just to name a few.

When board elections came around this March, I knew that I wanted to stay involved after my class rep term was up, so I learned about the various board positions and decided to run for VP of Program Relations. Coincidentally, this was Connor’s position the year before, so I met with him to learn more about it. He gave me some ideas of what had worked for him and what still needed to be improved upon. I communicated these ideas to my classmates and I was fortunate enough to get elected, and this spring I’ll be taking over for the same person who evaluated me, and who had a say as to whether I would even join the program.

It’s interesting to reflect on the changing dynamics of relationships in the program. One day you find yourself being evaluated by someone, then they become your peer and friend, then they become your mentor. There are many stories just like this one at every turn at Foster. We’re a tight-knit community where everyone gets to know everyone else. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet some new prospective students at the latest evaluation day, and perhaps, as often seems the case, we’ll end up going full circle once again.

Connor and Nick
3rd Year Connor with 1st Year Nick

Everything Foster Evening MBA