One of the top questions we get about the online MBA student experience is how do you become part of the Rice Business community if you’re taking classes solely online? If you live in or around Houston, you’ve got more opportunities to come to campus. But even if you’re far away, you still have ways to interact, get to know your classmates and professors in person, and meet alumni.
Top Ranking and Intimate Culture Set Rice Business Apart
It’s a big leap, applying for an MBA. While it’s a proven excellent return on your investment, it also poses a daunting question: which business school best suits your career goals? Rice Business, with its small classes, top-ranked programs, tree-filled campus and intimate culture, delivers a truly distinctive MBA. I’m excited to share these perspectives from current students and recent alumni about what sets Rice Business apart.
Samantha Lewis, Full-time MBA 2017
A native of New Mexico, Lewis is director of the GOOSE Society of Texas, a venture capital investment group that invests around $10M annually in early-stage startups. During her time at Rice Business she received the Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship, the National Association of Women MBA’s scholarship, and the Jones Citizen Award.
"As a two-time entrepreneur, I went back to get my MBA to learn investing strategies and how to scale companies, and scale massively. Rice Business provided me a fundamental framework to be able to intellectually keep up in the fast-paced world of venture capital. The small program lends itself perfectly to the network-driven entrepreneur and student.
As a student, I was able to take advantage of every single resource Rice Business has to offer in the field of venture capital and entrepreneurship. Rice Alliance, the school’s nationally-recognized initiative to support technology commercialization, entrepreneurship education and the launch of technology companies, put on major events that gave me exposure to startups and investors. It runs the world’s largest and richest graduate student business plan competition. Their venture forums bring 500 to 1,000 investors and startups to Rice to pitch, fund and network. Not only do you have access to these events as a student – you are encouraged to volunteer, which opens many doors."
Mayank Gulati, Full-Time MBA 2020
A native of Mumbai, Gulati was previously an associate professional at CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation) and is earning his MBA with concentrations in marketing and strategic management. He is treasurer of the Rice Business Marketing Association, vice president of the Technology Association, and an officer of the Rice Business Indo-American Association.
"I had lived in various cities in India, and it’s a very diverse country to begin with, so I had interacted with people from very different backgrounds but never internationally. So I wasn’t completely confident or sure how that experience would be. But in the very first month at Rice Business I made really good friends — and before I knew it my class became like a family. I visited a friend at a bigger school and he didn’t know a coworker of mine from the same class. It was impossible to know everyone in a school that big.
The specific factors that set Rice Business apart for me were first, its ranking and reputation [Princeton Review ranked Rice Business #1 in Entrepreneurship programs, #3 in Finance, #8 in Best Classroom Experience] and then its student-teacher ratio. The third thing that set Rice apart was its location in Houston, the most diverse city in the U.S. I want to be a global citizen instead of just being focused on my home country, and I think interacting with people from so many backgrounds sets me up for success."
Doug Fiefia, Full-time MBA 2020
Originally from Salt Lake City, Fiefia was previously a manager of corporate sales development at software company Workday. At Rice Business, he is earning his MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship and strategic management. He is president of the Jones Student Association and a Rice Business Board Fellow.
"What sets Rice Business apart is the close, tight-knit community. One example: recently a bad storm caused a power outage at an apartment building where many MBA students lived. Within ten minutes, the rest of the class came together and created a list of people willing to give rides and of students willing to host other students for the night. Community isn't something we just say, it’s something we live.
We have so many talented people from all over the world, who speak many languages, worked for top companies, represent many industries, received many awards and accolades, but are still very humble and willing to help anyone out if they are needed.".
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Stacy Fish, Full-time MBA 2020
Born and raised in Houston, Fish graduated from UT Austin and previously worked as an operations project analyst at Houston Methodist Hospital. At Rice Business, she will graduate with a concentration in marketing and recently accepted a position with United Airlines in pricing/revenue management. She is president of the Rice Business Women’s Organization and an officer in the Marketing Association.
"I went to a really big undergraduate school, where I was a small fish in a very large pond. I was looking for a graduate school experience that was more intimate, where the professors knew who I was, and I knew my classmates. Having grown up in Houston I knew Rice Business was a great school. You know the resources and the faculty here are incredible. But what I didn’t know until I came here for an open house was how small the program was and what that means in terms of your experience.
Everyone has each other's back. I think in a really big school it’s easy to say something is someone else's problem or someone else will volunteer for things, especially with clubs and student leadership. Here, you’re really encouraged to take on leadership positions right away and you get a lot of support. One of the first things I did was get involved with the student-run Women in Leadership conference. After doing that and seeing how powerful and fulfilling it was I decided to run for president of the women’s organization. That is not something I ever really thought I would do. But here it's kind of all hands on deck. All of our voices are heard. They matter."
Kendall Toarmina, Full-time MBA 2017
Toarmina earned both her bachelor’s and master’s at Rice. While earning her MBA at Rice Business, she founded the school’s first-ever Diversity And Inclusion Conference, and she currently leads the university's LGBTQ alumni association. Toarmina was named a Woman of Power by Outsmart Magazine the year she earned her MBA. She is now a management consultant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
"What I felt set the Rice Business experience apart from many business schools was how inclusive the atmosphere was of our families and significant others. As a business student, I couldn't have succeeded without my friends and classmates, but I also couldn't have done it without the support of my personal circle.
The program created opportunities for that circle to understand my experience and be a part of it — through the partios [the business school’s signature afternoon courtyard parties], family day events and other receptions and programs. All of these allowed my significant other to meet my professors and classmates, see my classrooms and hear about what I was learning."
Ashley H. John, Full-Time MBA 2020
A native of Missouri City, John graduated with a major in urban studies from Stanford University and previously worked as alumni coordinator at an educational nonprofit. At Rice Business, she is earning her MBA with a concentration in marketing. She is vice president of the Technology Association, officer of the Rice Business Black Business Student Association and Rice Consortium Chapter.
"I did a lot of researching. I was looking for programs that had a strong community that were interested in social impact as well. And I was interested in financial aid. Coming from the education field, it’s not like I had a whole bunch saved up for school. Sometimes we don’t like to talk about finances, but it’s a really big investment to go back to school. Rice Business by far had the best scholarship package of all the schools I looked at. I know many of my classmates receive some form of aid too.
Being from Houston, I know that even though Rice is in the middle of the city, it can seem out of reach. In fact, it is very down to earth: everybody here has been wonderful and very humble, even though they’re very accomplished. The Rice admissions department was transparent and seemed very invested in my growth and success. That was the driving factor for me. They have this tag line, “You belong here.” And it felt like I really did."
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