Diversity and responsibility converge

MBA Class of 2008 marked by diverse backgrounds and commitment to social responsibility

Their backgrounds range from serving as a Peace Corps volunteer at a rural health clinic in West Africa to helping launch a magazine for Martha Stewart to working in a range of finance and other business sectors.

But despite these varied histories, the goals of many in the MBA Class of 2008 are similar: to use the business knowledge and experience they gain at MIT Sloan to improve business practices — and living conditions — around the world.

Nearly one-third of students at MIT Sloan are international, including Ye Yin, 31, of Beijing. He initially came to the United States to earn a PhD in biochemistry and then worked as a research scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

“An MBA will enable me to do a lot more than what I can do as a scientist,” he said. “I have seen how technology advancements in the US health-care sector have helped improve peoples' lives. I intend to use my MBA to find a position in a pharmaceutical company or a health-care organization to help people in other parts of world — especially in developing countries — also benefit from advanced medical technologies.”

Education, innovation, experience

Helping to improve the quality of life in developing countries is a common thread binding many of those in the Class of 2008.

Christina Beaumier is coming to Cambridge after two years with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, one of West Africa's least developed nations.

“I am lacking a traditional business background, but through my experience living in an isolated village without any electricity or running water, I gained a keen insight into the challenges faced by some of the most underprivileged people on earth,” said Beaumier, who is from western Massachusetts. “I believe that technology and education are important keys to unlocking the poverty conundrum that exists in West Africa. I hope to use my MBA to run high-tech businesses operating in emerging markets that aim to develop West Africans' access to technology and infrastructure.”

MIT Sloan's legacy of innovation and experiential learning continues to draw students.

Susan Hanemann Rogol, 33 and a Memphis native, said she seeks “to take advantage of MIT Sloan's strengths in operations and entrepreneurship to enhance my business development skills,” which she has already honed with work in the culinary industry, including work on a Martha Stewart startup magazine.

Fresh viewpoints

At the other end of the experience spectrum — but no less focused on the future — some students beginning their MBA studies this fall arrive with very little real-world experience.

Though the typical MIT Sloan MBA students have five years of work experience before returning to the classroom, some of their new classmates will be coming directly from undergraduate studies.

“I understand that few students make the jump that I did, coming straight from college,” said Paul Fricilone, 22. “I applied as a senior in college, knowing that there are positive and negatives to entering an MBA program without prior work experience. On the positive side, I am used to being in school, so there is no transition needed for me back to school. On the negative side, I may not be able to bring as many business examples to class.”

Fricilone, a Chicago-area native who graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2006 with a BS in finance, is interested in investment banking.

“I look forward to learning from my fellow Sloanies, who will be able to speak to me about their experiences and allow me to learn from where they have been.”

Melissa King also decided to make the college-to-MBA program jump.

“Once I decided to pursue an MBA, I thought, why wait?” said King, 22, a Tulsa, OK, native who earned a BS in chemical engineering at Rice University. “There's no denying that my difference in background will lead to a unique experience at MIT Sloan, but I don't believe that one path is necessarily better than the other. Perhaps not being as involved in the business world will provide me with a fresh viewpoint on certain issues.”

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