Jones School’s Veterans in Business Association Aids MBA Transition

veterans

The Rice University—Jones Graduate School of Business (Rice Business) recently highlighted its Veterans in Business Association (VIBA)—a unique student club that works to increase the number of veterans in Rice Business’s MBA program and bring a national awareness to their efforts—as part of a feature article in Rice Magazine.

VIBA was founded in 2011 by former Navy SEAL James Battista, who served for a decade in the military. The student organization aimed to provide mentoring opportunities for students making the challenging transition from military life to academia.

The following year, Rice Business dean Bill Glick, along with Rice trustees and others from the leadership team, began a scholarship that would help cover the cost of tuition, fees and living expenses for one veteran earning his or her MBA degree. This year, the recipient is Major William E. Lyles, a first-year MBA student at Rice Business who lost both of his legs after stepping on a buried improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan. And while the transition from military to civilian life has not been an easy one for Lyle—including four years of rehab at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio—he nonetheless finds some overlap in the skills used in the Army and in an MBA.

“I wish I was still able to do what I did, but this is good, too.” Lyle told Rice Magazine. “I’m going to get a chance to lead again, in a different capacity.”

At Rice Business, special care is taken to consider the specific challenges facing veteran applicants. Annie Hunnel, Rice Business associate director of recruiting and admissions, travels across the nation to meet with potential students and help them understand how to transfer their military experience to the professional world.

With such an important focus placed on addressing the challenges of military applicants, Rice Business has quickly gained a reputation as one of the top veteran-friendly business schools in the country. “Rice valued my background in the military, and when I came down and got to meet some of the supporters, that clinched it,” former Green Beret Steve Panagiotou told Rice Magazine. “The support was almost overwhelming from alumni who have been successful in their careers. At that point it was a no-brainer for me.”

To read the complete Rice Magazine article, “The Next Mission,” click here.

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