"I define myself based on personal values that I hold highest: integrity, respect and perseverance."

GET TO KNOW NIYAGO

Former Navy Officer. Military Veterans Advocate. Traveler.

What makes me different is that I have not only military experience but also civilian experience before coming to the Tepper School. I had a wealth of leadership experience, but I lacked the business skills to be successful and chart my own course outside the military. I knew earning an MBA would give me exposure to several business functions and learn how they are interconnected. I also wanted to expand my professional network and have the opportunity to select a company to start a new career.

I also wanted to make an impact by helping to remove some of the stigma associated with military veterans. A common misperception is that all military veterans were on the front lines dug into foxholes, which is far from the truth. Many of the jobs we do in the military are highly technical. I’m very open about the challenges veterans face transitioning out of the military and how the situation can be improved.

Outside of school and work, I like to spend time with my wife and extremely spoiled dog or hang out with classmates. My wife and I both enjoy traveling — we actually got engaged on a trip to Bali! Staying in shape during business school is important also, so I dedicate a good amount of time outside of school to working out. 

YOUR LIFE + TEPPER SCHOOL

I chose the Tepper School because of its brand and the positive interactions I had with students and alumni. The rigor of the program has definitely lived up to my expectations, but with good time management the workload is doable.

The Tepper School community is very supportive, and I probably learn as much outside of class from my classmates as I learn from attending class. Everyone is willing to help when it is needed. I recently had a classmate sit down with me for almost two hours and explain some key concepts from class that I wasn’t understanding. I like that we have a very diverse class with students coming from every background you can think of and countries throughout the world.

Although the class material can be difficult at times, professors do a good job of giving real-world examples to demonstrate why what they are teaching is important. Professors are readily accessible and classmates can be a great resource to help when you need it. This has helped me adjust to being back in school full time, which was definitely a concern of mine.

I came in with quantitative experience, but it was so long ago (more than 10 years) that I had to brush off the cobwebs. The Tepper School has a reputation for being quant heavy, but if you come in with the right attitude and are willing to put in the work, then you won’t have a problem.

The leadership component of the program has helped me become a more polished presenter. I was accustomed to briefing material in a military manner, but business presentations require a different skillset that engages the audience.

The most influential class for me by far has been Optimization, taught by professor van Hoeve. The professor is very passionate about the subject matter, and the assignments have real-world implications.

TEPPER SCHOOL ADVICE

Take care of yourself. You will have plenty of demands at B-school, so it’s important that you take the time to decompress. Remember B-school is a marathon, not a sprint.