Veterans Day Student Spotlights
Our veterans represent a significant part of our community and hail from every branch and role within the U.S. military. Through their unique experiences, they have honed valuable skills in leadership and conflict resolution that primes them for a business career. Meet six McDonough graduate students who tell us a bit about their life as student-veterans and how they journeyed from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force to the Hilltop.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to Georgetown McDonough?
I am a Veteran and an active duty military spouse. I have been a part of this magnificent military community for the past 18 years. Having walked both these paths, my life and professional career have been filled with tremendous and unique opportunities. Because of this, I am fortunate enough to have ended up at Georgetown McDonough. Prior to moving to the D.C. area last summer, my family was stationed in Fort Irwin, California, at the National Training Center, a small military instillation in the Mojave desert. I managed a large maintenance contract with 200+ mechanics, supervisors, and several thousand pieces of equipment. It was there I realized to better care for those I manage, particularly in new and challenging situations, I needed a more scientific approach to leadership to make better evidence-based decisions. Leading convoys through the streets of Baghdad had nothing on managing union relations! In my search for growth opportunities I stumbled on the EML program (new window) and it so happened we were PCSing (moving) to the D.C. area. I knew this was the program for me and feel fortunate to have been accepted to this year’s cohort. So far it has been everything I hoped for and so much more. – Wendy Way (EML’21, Army)
When I separated from the Navy, I wanted to develop business acumen in a leading graduate business program that emphasizes international relations and prioritizes service. My discovery of a joint-program shaped by top-ranked business and foreign service schools (new window)made Georgetown the smartest choice. – Tarick Khadra (MA-IBP’20, Navy)
Before coming to Georgetown I was a jet pilot by trade, flying EA-6B Prowlers for just short of 12 years. In the military, it was my focus on unit leadership, teamwork, and developing those around me which gave me the drive to succeed in some of the most challenging scenarios. I believed an MBA was exactly the type of educational pursuit that would bridge the gap between my experiences in the military and those required in the business world, all while leveraging the skill sets I had already developed. An MBA from Georgetown would help me take my military leadership skills and scale them larger for a global business mindset. For me, Georgetown’s smaller class size, collaborative mindset, and faculty engagement made it an easy choice. – Derek Cunningham (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
I had the privilege to serve for eight years as an infantryman in 3rd Ranger Battalion. After my active duty service I wanted to go back to school to take advantage of my military benefits and figure out my next career. Georgetown McDonough is the perfect school for me because of its reputation with employers, collaborative environment, excellent career center, and focus on international business and policy. – Andres Bravo (MBA-MSFS’23, Army)
I wanted to keep challenging myself and learn as much as possible about executive leadership and all functions of business. – Kyle Kalman (EML’21, Army)
I was looking for an MSF program I could complete while living in Germany that I could afford with the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program. I also was interested in programs that offered CFA-track-type classes. Georgetown was the most highly rated MSF program that offered a “mostly online” option and that participated in the Yellow Ribbon program (with no student caps or early deadlines). – Raye Powell (MSF’21, Air Force)
What are your hopes and goals for after graduation?
Based on my personal experiences and what I have learned in this program I hope to take my business to the next level while working within my community of military veterans and spouses advocating on behalf of their employment. My “why” has simply always been to be better — for those I lead, my family, my business, and my community. The EML program has been perfect for exploring all aspects of my hopes, goals, passions, and purpose. The confidence I have gained has been tremendous. I love managing, leading, and exploring entrepreneurship. – Wendy Way (EML’21, Army)
Through military service, I learned about the dire need for greater access to basic health and education in many conflict-ridden zones. Ideally, I would love to work with firms interested in improving access to basic health and education, and I am confident that better opportunity for specifically women and children in marginalized U.S. communities and in low- and middle-income countries will create a better quality of life and lead to greater regional security. – Tarick Khadra (MA-IBP’20, Navy)
I am really interested in going into investment banking (IB), which has been something I’ve wanted to do for years. I have several family members who work in finance and IB, and they have been a very large influence in that decision for me. So, if things go close to plan this fall, I will hopefully secure a summer associate internship next summer and find my way up to NYC. – Derek Cunningham (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
I hope to move up in my organization and eventually run for public office. – Kyle Kalman (EML’21, Army)
I would like to get the CFA designation over the next four years. I have the first exam scheduled for next November, and I would like to continue to live and work abroad. – Raye Powell (MSF’21, Air Force)
What would you like people to know about the life of a student-veteran?
My experience at Georgetown is that diversity of thought and experience is valued. I have only been encouraged to be myself. The coursework is challenging but I always have the tremendous support of my cohort, executive coach, and professors within the university. It can be hard to step outside of your comfort zone and be vulnerable, but Georgetown has created a welcoming environment from students from all walks of life, to include veterans. – Wendy Way (EML’21, Army)
Veterans must undergo a process of redefinition. In that process, we have to strive to retain those invaluable skills gained through service while capturing new skills that are relevant outside of the defense sector. Being a student-veteran has helped me through that redefinition process. Oh, and full time work and school is as challenging as those really intense deployment workups. – Tarick Khadra (MA-IBP’20, Navy)
I’d say that we’re probably a couple years older than the average student, but other than that, we’re just a normal student at this point. We (I) still have the same concerns (maybe more) about learning new material, preparing for job interviews, and figuring out how to balance it all. Also, I’d say that for the most part, we’re all totally open to talking about our past experiences, what we’ve done and where we’ve been. – Derek Cunningham (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
As a student-veteran you bring real-world experience and a strong work ethic, which augments the class dynamics. – Kyle Kalman (EML’21, Army)
It’s pretty much life as normal. The Veterans Office (new window) is very responsive to inquiries about GI Bill procedures, and if you make an effort to connect with other veterans during your time at Georgetown, you can discover a lot of resources for post-graduation job hunts. – Raye Powell (MSF’21, Air Force)
What advice would you give to veterans who are thinking about pursuing a college/graduate-level education?
My advice is to take advantage of as many of these educational and self-development opportunities as possible. There has never been more support, benefits, and resources for veteran education and employment than there is today. You will expand your professional network and support system while being challenged as you continue to grow in ways you never thought possible. I truly believe the Georgetown experience has given me a self-awareness and expanded my way of thinking in the journey of creating the best version of me. – Wendy Way (EML’21, Army)
I would encourage all vets who are thinking of pursuing college-graduate level education to hold on to their sense of service. The best education programs help us preserve our sense of service and teach us how to most effectively translate our military strengths into new sectors of employment. 2020 has taught us that no country is an island and the need for people committed to state building remains great. – Tarick Khadra (MA-IBP’20, Navy)
DON’T WAIT — DO IT! I think that veterans often have a misconception about their experiences in the military with regard to being successful in academics. Too often I’ve heard service members who are getting out say that they’ve been out of school too long or that they wouldn’t know how to get back into the swing of learning in a school setting. I honestly believe that the leadership and responsibility that these young men and women are given so early in their military careers are an exponential multiplier in preparing them for college. Time management, maturity, and working in stressful environments are transferable skills that will set you up for success. – Derek Cunningham (MBA’22, Marine Corps)
I encourage veterans to reach out to student veteran groups at any university they are interested in for insights into the school. The McDonough Military Association and Georgetown University Student Veterans of America chapter warmly welcomed me to Georgetown and helped me navigate every part of the student veteran experience from the application, enrolling for benefits, and tips on living in Washington, D.C. – Andres Bravo (MBA-MSFS’23, Army)
It will take a significant amount of your time. If you work full time while doing it, good time-management skills are essential. Even the “part-time” option for MSF is basically a full workload. If you’re relying on getting the full GI Bill housing allowance (which is not very much if you’re doing distance learning), you have to take a “full-time” load, so that will add additional effort. I would never discourage anyone from getting a degree, as I think it’s incredibly beneficial for many career paths, but I want people to know what they are committing to. – Raye Powell (MSF’21, Air Force)