Shelley Ewart

MBA for Professionals Class of 2016 – Evening

Hometown (City and State): Houston, Texas 

Undergraduate School and Major: Houston Baptist University, B.A. Business Administration and Finance

Employer and Job Titles: Comerica Bank, Commercial Relationship Manager

What led you to pursue an MBA? I have had a longstanding goal of joining a top MBA Program. As my career progressed, I found myself in a role that placed an increased importance on managerial capabilities and a holistic skillset. I realized that I needed to pursue my MBA before my career progressed to a level that would make it too difficult to do so.        

Why did you choose Rice for your professional MBA? When deciding which university to attend for my MBA, I attended information sessions for my top three considerations. The Jones School was at the top of my list because of the intimate class environment, the caliber of the professors, and the strong alumni network. However, I was still someone hesitant because of the large financial investment. I decided to attend a Rice MBA Lunch and Learn, featuring one of the Jones School’s finance professors. After listening to the presentation, I crossed every other school off my consideration list. The professor was so passionate about his subject matter that the entire audience held on to his every word. This is the type of lecture that I could enjoy after a long day at work; a lecture that kept me on the edge of my seat, taking notes, not because I care about my test grade, but because I don’t want to forget the truly insightful information. Less than a year after the luncheon, I had the pleasure of having the professor for my corporate finance class in the first year of my MBA. I was not disappointed. 

What has been a highlight of the program? My favorite part of the Rice MBA program has been the people. The students, the professors and the staff are some of the smartest and most compassionate people I have ever met. I realized the caliber of my classmates in our first strategy class during immersion, the intense first week of the MBA program. Instead of lecturing, the professor provided a business case, and then guided the lively class discussion and debate that arose. Because of the quality and diversity of the students at the business school, this proved to be an extremely effective and fun learning environment. Rice MBA students are more than just smart, they have huge hearts. Towards the end of my first year, Houston experienced record-breaking flooding. The home of one of my classmates, a husband and father of four, was nearly destroyed, so another classmate offered his home to the family until they found more permanent arrangement. In another example, my classmates rallied around me in support when I shared an important meeting that was approaching for work. Unexpectedly, when the day of the meeting arrived, I received texts from numerous classmates to cheer me on and wish me good luck.    

What has surprised you about the journey so far? Looking back, choosing the Jones School for my MBA has been the best investment I have made. The number of opportunities that I have been exposed to are far more than I ever anticipated. The Jones School surrounds students with development opportunities beyond the typical classroom experience. For example, I am investment analyst for the M.A. Wright Fund, a student managed stock portfolio. I am also an officer of the Jones School’s Chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) for which I am helping coordinate the 16th Annual Women in Leadership Conference, an event that provides students access to corporate and industry leaders. And the opportunities will not end after I graduate because the Jones School provides alumni access to resources long after graduation.      

What advice do you have for prospective students? Looking back on when I was making my decision on which school to go to, the focus of my analysis was on return on investment. While this is an important measure, I have learned that time is much more valuable than money. My recommendation to prospective students is to focus your decision making process on what option will give you the greatest return for the time that you invest.