Veterans Day Student Spotlights
Our veterans represent a significant part of our Georgetown McDonough community and hail from every branch and role within the U.S. military. They have honed valuable skills in leadership and conflict resolution through their unique experiences that creates a great path forward to a business career. Meet five McDonough graduate students who tell us a bit about their life as student veterans and their journey from the U.S. military to the Hilltop.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to Georgetown McDonough?
I grew up in Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C., and I always knew I wanted to serve our country so I joined the Marine Corps after college. Working with my fellow Marines, both at home and abroad, was the best job I could ever ask for – I loved every second. But life is more than just a job. During the fifth year of my career I took a step back and analyzed my entire life. I recognized a shift that had occurred in my priorities. It realized it was time to leave and focus on family – have more control of my own destiny in terms of where to live, what jobs to pursue (versus being assigned), and a better work-life balance. I saw parallels between the Marine Corps infantry and Real Estate – bringing together diverse groups of individuals (infantrymen, pilots, medical personnel, engineers, financiers, local governments etc.) to accomplish a common mission that betters the community. I looked at graduate real estate programs to pursue my new goal. Georgetown, and the Steers Center for Global Real Estate in particular, caught my eye. The hands-on curriculum would help me get the experience I needed to jump into a new field. Most importantly, the folks I met at Georgetown were friendly, supportive, and encouraging. – Peter Dulany (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
I initially entered college straight out of high school. When my student loan debt went unchecked, I was forced to leave school after my sophomore year. I knew that I needed to find a way to pay for loans and get back to school. I spoke with an Army recruiter and 10 days later I was on a bus to Ft. Benning, Georgia. While in the Army, I split time between Ft. Drum, in New York and Germany, where I had the opportunity to become a team leader in a signal unit. After separating from the Army, I enrolled back into an undergraduate program to finish my degree in finance. I knew upon graduation, I would have two years remaining on my G.I. Bill so I looked into various MBA programs. Georgetown offered me the chance to be in a city that I always admired and an opportunity to develop practical knowledge that I had learned from my undergraduate degree. – Michael Dunn (MBA’22, Army)
I was looking at programs that combined business and policy. I wanted a program that took the step further and showed what could happen when good policy leads to economic growth. – Spencer Katz (MA-IBP’21, Army)
Originally from Bolivia, I became the first in my family to enlist in the U. S. Armed Forces so that I could give back to a country that had given us a new home – and which had recently suffered through the 9/11 attacks. After serving seven years in the Marines, I started my first federal employment as a management analyst at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is located in Silver Spring, Maryland. The transition from military service was challenging – yet I found substantial support along the way. Since NOAA, I’ve worked at several federal agencies with vastly different missions, cultures, and challenges. In all, I’ve gained important skills and experiences that have ultimately prepared me for my journey at Georgetown McDonough. – Roger Miranda (EMBA’23, Marine Corps)
What are your hopes and goals for after graduation?
I had a wonderful internship last summer with a commercial real estate data center company that I was introduced to through Georgetown. I will be going back to work for them next year. I was drawn to their team because of the quality of people and their initiative and aggressive spirit going after the emerging electric vehicle market through a real estate lens. I also look forward to only being away from my wife and son for a few days at a time for work instead of months, providing the opportunity to coach, volunteer, and kiss them goodnight. – Peter Dulany (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
I hope to guide the private sector with policy issues of the future. – Spencer Katz (MA-IBP’21, Army)
After graduation, I plan to pursue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Senior Executive Service, Candidate Development Program (CDP). An Executive MBA from Georgetown will provide the high level of training, business acumen, and global perspective that will prepare me for an executive leadership position within DHS. – Roger Miranda (EMBA’23, Marine Corps)
How did your experience as a veteran prepare you for your Georgetown McDonough experience and how did that time prepare you for your postgraduate journey?
My experiences in the U.S. Air Force have forced me to be adaptable with limited resources – to be able to solve any problem that comes my way. That being said, the first semester at McDonough required all of these skills to manage the course load, the recruitment process, and the transition to civilian life simultaneously. My experience allowed me to tackle problems from a different angle and provide a different perspective. MSB has done a great job assisting me through this transition and into the civilian world of networking and recruitment. There is not a huge emphasis on networking in the military, so this is a whole new territory for me and thankfully between my classmates, professors, and the MBA Career Center, I am feeling more prepared than ever to finally make the transition into the civilian world. – Kendall Veasaw (MBA23, U.S. Air Force)
What would you like people to know about the life of a student-veteran?
For veterans, like any change in life, there is an adjustment leaving the service. The transition is far from insurmountable if you grab the opportunity by the horns. For civilians, student-veterans are just like everybody else in the program, we’ve had different types of experiences in different settings than most, but like everybody, we were working on teams to accomplish a common goal. – Peter Dulany (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
The day-to-day is like any other student (classes, meetings, clubs, etc.) but you have an additional support group to help you navigate. Many students come from non-business backgrounds so veterans only deepen the diversity of experiences in groups and class discussions. – Michael Dunn (MBA’22, Army)
I hope they know that there are other veterans going through the same issues and problems. That you are not alone. – Spencer Katz (MA-IBP’21, Army)
What advice would you give to veterans who are thinking about pursuing a college/graduate-level education?
Pursuing an undergraduate and graduate-level education provided a comforting buffer to my transition. I did not have to charge headlong into figuring out what industry I wanted to pivot to, study and recruit for it, and land a job while simultaneously attending necessary Transition Readiness Seminars, being cleared medically and administratively, while still executing a demanding military job. An education opportunity reinforces and builds on existing skills while providing an opportunity to zero in on the very specific future you want to pursue, build your plan of attack, then supercharge your momentum to accomplish that mission. – Peter Dulany (MBA’22, Marine)
One: Map out your goals and figure out what it takes to achieve them.
Two: If a degree will help you, study, prepare and research what it will take and what to expect.
Three: Don’t self-select out of anything – your experiences are relevant and will be seen as impactful. Lastly: Invest in yourself – apply to schools, weigh priorities, assess costs, apply for scholarships, figure out what it will take, and execute. – Michael Dunn (MBA’22, Army)
You will never make a better decision in your life. Being in the military is a community and in some ways, you lose parts of that community when you leave. Higher education is a very good way of feeling that community again and feeling a sense of belonging. – Spencer Katz (MA-IBP’21, Army)
A college/graduate-level education at Georgetown is the perfect complement to the high-level, technical, and leadership experiences that are developed during military service. – Roger Miranda (EMBA’23, Marine Corps)
If you’re a Georgetown McDonough student-veteran, we would love to include your story in future spotlights – please fill out our questionnaire.