Going All In: Why I’m Taking The Gamble With McCombs

In Texas, there are a variety of schools, both public and private. Among those are two historical behemoths: The University of Texas, and Texas A&M University. Naturally, these schools became rivals early in the 20th century, leaving students and alumni alike filled with both pride for their own school, and disdain for the other.

My mother came from a line of Aggies. Her father and brother both went to Texas A&M and loved it. She attended and graduated in 1985, completing the trifecta of family members who were alumni with cult-like loyalty to the school. Strangely, though, she married a Longhorn. My father, also the class of 1985, was the only person in his family to attend The University of Texas.

Growing up, it was almost assumed that I would go to Texas A&M and become an Aggie. Not only had my uncle, grandfather, and mother chosen to attend, but five out of nine of my cousins (both maternal and paternal) were also graduates from the esteemed school. I was raised in the color maroon, and every fall weekend consisted of the entire family watching the Aggie game.

Naturally, however, each autumn weekend also consisted of the Texas game; and, much to my mother’s disdain, my affections for the Longhorns far outpaced my love for the Aggies — even as a child. While I respected the Aggies, I was infatuated with The University of Texas. Maybe it was because my father gave me a stuffed Bevo toy as a child (which quickly became a beloved token and has followed me even throughout my adult life). My future was a construct of which I was not yet certain, but of it, I knew one thing for sure: it was shaded in deep hues of orange and white.

My parents chose to home school me for the duration of my K-12 academic career. While I was studious — graduating high school with over 40 hours in dual-credits under my belt — my lack of class ranking, paired with my above-average but not quite excellent SAT score, ultimately barred me from undergraduate admission to UT. Initially devastated, I was fortunate to attend a smaller state school on a nearly full academic scholarship. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree debt-free, and though UT was still the school that held my heart, I remain grateful for the financial impact that my undergraduate university inspired.

My dad, who watched his sister become crippled by a gender-based double standard within his own family, insisted that I major in business. He desired for me a degree that was recession-proof, and a field in which I could earn my own living, never forced to rely upon a man to provide for me. I was unhappy with the demand — I was an artist! In my 18-year-old brain, business school was certainly not the solution for my untapped creative potential. Luckily, my father knew me better than I did myself. By the time I graduated from college, I had fallen in love with the field I had chosen: marketing.

I graduated from college in 2016, after just two and a half years, eager to get out of school and put my knowledge to use in the real world. At 21, I began my work in the oil & gas industry, and had the opportunity to help grow a small business while providing scale to its marketing and communications department. But even at that job, I had yet to see the potential that my father recognized when he all-but-forced me to choose marketing. That didn’t come until February of 2018.

I interned with Charles Schwab during the summer of 2015, just before my final semester of college. I chose not to pursue a job with the company post-internship because I did not particularly enjoy the corporate environment. While that ultimately proved to be a career mistake, I worked under a marketing VP who recognized my potential and remembered me throughout the next few years. And on the last day of January in 2018, that same VP came calling.

He had started his own marketing agency and needed an account manager to help him with day-to-day client relationships. The job would be hard: I was his only hire, it was a fast-paced environment and I was expected to do the job of two people. But, he promised to teach me everything that he knew. I recognized then that the career opportunity I had was once in a lifetime, and I made the plunge without a second thought. I moved to Austin just two weeks later.

For the past almost two years, I have been working in downtown Austin, in the shadows of the UT Tower every single day. And, in the same two years, I’ve discovered an unquenchable love for every single aspect of my business. I’ve helped my boss build a two-person marketing agency into a six-person (and counting) operation grossing nearly $1 million annually. I’ve put in 70-hour weeks, working the job of two people, managing the strategic and tactical marketing pursuits of over 15 clients throughout my career, including our three largest revenue generators. True to his word, my boss has taught me everything he knows (and still is doing so), handing me opportunities and giving me responsibilities that are unheard of for most 24-year-olds. I have risen to the occasion and grown at a rate that has been surprising to even myself. Perhaps this is what my father always knew I was capable of, and why he insisted upon business in the first place.

Since graduation, I’ve had my eyes fixed on graduate school. I just wasn’t quite sure of the capacity in which I would attend. Would I pursue a Master of Fine Arts? Would I chase a Ph.D. in Psychology? As with all confident intellectuals, I knew what I could do, but wasn’t exactly sure of what I wanted to do. After moving to Austin and working in the heart of start-up culture, I couldn’t be more positive of the graduate path in front of me: a Master of Business Administration. The perfect pairing of art and science, business has given me an avenue to grow in my ambition, express my creativity, and sharpen my own intellect with every single day that I walk into my job. I could not possibly be any happier, or more fortunate, to be a businesswoman.

When I came to this resolution, the path in front of me became quite obvious. I didn’t want to go back to school and give up my career. My undergraduate courses had proven unsatisfactory in solely quenching the thirst of my ambition: in my years of college, I published a novel, held three jobs, pursued and graduated with an honors degree which required extra and elevated coursework, and was a columnist for three publications. I couldn’t go back to school full-time because it would only fill me up half-way. So when I discovered that UT’s McCombs College of Business had an evening program, allowing me to keep my day-job and pursue an elite master’s degree in business, it became very clear that this was the path I should take.

Much like Rudy and his love for Notre Dame, I long with persistence to be a student at The University of Texas. And while previous attempts have failed, I will try again, because I want to be the one who carries my father’s legacy within our family. Because my dreams for my future have always included UT. Because ultimately, failure is only an option if I choose to accept it — and I will never accept it.

Why McCombs? Because I have set myself apart from the crowd, and my vision for my future is clear. If I were a believer in fate, it is evident that this is mine. And if this application is a poker match, I’m going all in.

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