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Earning an MBA is a family matter

Pursuing an MBA is a life-changing endeavor for students – and for their partners. I met my husband, Diego Angarita Horowitz (MBA ’17), as he was in the midst of applying to business school. We are a team, and I have supported him in pursuing his goal since day one.

The preparation process for applying took a few years. To ensure a strong application, Diego took extra courses, studied for the required testing, networked and, most importantly, researched the best schools in the U.S.

After receiving admissions offers from various programs, we decided on UNC Kenan-Flagler full-time MBA Program.

We were very excited to move to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area – but at the same time, we were very nervous. We didn’t know what to expect. When sharing the news with our family and friends, some were very happy for us. Others wondered whether our diversity would be embraced in the South.

When we arrived in our new town, Carrboro, we unpacked in our apartment and started exploring our surroundings. UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Analytical Skills Workshop started in July – and with it, our journeys as a full-time MBA student and partner.

Looking back, the experience of being a partner to a full-time MBA student was a roller coaster. While Diego expanded his knowledge and became a business expert, I immersed myself in the experience and developed new skills.

Partners are welcome to participate in social, Legacy Cup, club and educational events. I networked during Carolina Casuals, enjoyed people singing and dancing during Karaoke Night (my personal favorite Legacy Cup event) and made Matzo balls for the Jewish Business Association’s Rosh Hashanah potluck dinner. I acquired new understanding about race and equality through the Race Matters Forum organized by the Alliance of Minority Business Students and the Green Zone Training organized by the MBA Program team. I was so involved supporting Diego that during a social event, an MBA student thought I was enrolled in the program and asked me, “Where have you been, I haven’t see you in class?”

This experience gave me the chance to be part of Kenan Connection, the full-time MBA Program partners association, and undertake for the first time in my life a leadership role as vice president. Kenan Connection helps partners to acclimate to the area, the University and their new lives as MBA partners. This experience gave me the opportunity to learn how to network, develop my leadership skills, become a supportive MBA partner, and be a valued member of the UNC Kenan-Flagler community.

Reflecting on Diego’s time as an MBA student, I can’t imagine a better place to be than at UNC Kenan-Flagler, where I now am a staff member in the Undergraduate Business Program. We have been thoroughly impressed with how open and accepting the Business School community is. As a partner, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s great community, and to have met so many bright students and amazing partners! We all have different backgrounds, interests and goals, but as a great family, we all come together, care for and support one another so much. 

By José E. Cartagena-Ortiz