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From Military to MBA

Carroll School is active in programs that help veterans pursue grad degrees

Veterans and active duty servicemen (L-R) Matt Horne (formerly Navy and currently Naval Reserve), Stephen Hart (US Coast Guard active) and Second Lt. Kevin Cuomo (US Naval Academy grad and USMC Active) are enrolled in the Carroll School of Management graduate program. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Nov. 3, 2011

Lt. Stephen Hart came to the Carroll School of Management’s MBA program through a US Coast Guard program that’s training officers to be the service’s next generation of leaders.

US Marine Corps Second Lt. Kevin Cuomo received a fellowship to pursue an MBA following his graduation from the US Naval Academy in 2010.

Matt Horne, who served six years in the US Navy and is now in the Naval Reserve, is pursuing an MBA as he transitions into a private-sector career in corporate finance.

All three men reflect the growing appeal of the MBA and other graduate business degrees to veterans and active duty military personnel. These men and women account for approximately three percent of enrollments in the nation’s top MBA programs, according to the blog Military to Business.

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Jeff Ringuest said men and women with military backgrounds add to the experiential diversity of the typical Carroll School full-time MBA class of 100 students.

“The students with a military background bring a natural leadership and discipline to the class,” said Ringuest. “They’re used to hard work and ambiguous problems. The fast pace of the first year of the program doesn’t throw them.”

A revamped GI Bill, the federal Yellow Ribbon Program, and the MBA Veterans Network and Operation MBA, sponsored by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, have served to improve funding and resources available to veterans who want to pursue graduate education, and BC is an active partner in the programs.

“The Carroll School strives to identify, recruit, and enroll members of the military,” said Shelley Burt, director of graduate enrollment. “They are competitive candidates and a strong fit with our program and community given their confidence, demonstrated leadership experience, strategic thinking and professionalism.”

Horne, who received his undergraduate degree in economics from Holy Cross, said he considered both law school and business school before deciding to pursue a MBA and a MS in finance at the Carroll School.

“I thought the MBA was the best way to go for me as far as transitioning into a new career,” said Horne, who traveled the world as a submarine officer. “In the military you gain experience in leadership, operations and time management. But while you manage money, you lack the business background you would get at a private corporation. This is a great way to build that knowledge base.”

During his five years in the Coast Guard, Hart has been stationed on a pair of vessels, undertaken Homeland Security missions, fisheries enforcement and drug and immigration interdiction. Hart is pursuing an MS in accounting in addition to the MBA.

“I am here to improve on hard skills like finance and accounting,” said Hart, who received his undergraduate degree from the US Coast Guard Academy. “But our class discussions are just as important. To hear from people who have worked in HR, marketing or IT and learn from their experiences is a real benefit. They approach problems differently, so it has expanded my way of thinking.”

Cuomo went straight from Annapolis to BC as one of a select group of academically talented graduates awarded a McMullen Fellowship for graduate business study.

“A liberal arts university is a much different environment than a military academy,” said Cuomo. “But everyone has been great. It’s a new way of looking at the resources you have, your team and making the most of what you have. It’s great training for any leader in any career.”

Following graduation next May, Cuomo will head to The Basic School in Quantico, Va., where he will be trained to lead Marines in combat. “This has been one of the best experiences in my life,” he said. “I’ve had a chance to meet great people and learn from them. My classmates and professors have made this an even greater experience.”

Hart said having fellow military men in the program has been a benefit.

“With the three of us here at the same time, it’s definitely helpful,” he said. It’s easy to relate to Matt and Kevin. If I bring up a problem I’ve encountered in my service, they can affirm that and we discuss how we approached it. We all try to help make the military lingo we throw around a bit more understandable to everyone.”