Gabriel S. Chick
Carnegie Mellon University – Tepper School of Business
Program Type/Area of Study: Master of Business Administration
Military Branch: Army, Field Artillery
Years Served: 4 years
Highest Pay Grade: O-2
Tell us about yourself:
I am a Pittsburgh native and a first generation college graduate, and I will also be the only one of my seven brothers and sisters to complete a graduate degree. After completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Geneva College in 2010, I applied to and was accepted into the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School. In late 2011, I received my commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army’s Field Artillery Branch. While assigned to the 101st Airborne I served in three different leadership positions and deployed to Zormat, Afghanistan for eight months. Finally, in June of 2015 I resigned my commission in the U.S. Army to pursue a Master of Business Administration at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.
What prompted you to return to school?
The military is a profoundly rewarding and challenging career, however it was not something I wanted to pursue for 20 or 30 years. Therefore, I needed to prepare for a pivot into the civilian work force. I knew this was going to require significant change on my part and that it would be best achieved through a career enhancing and transformational graduate degree program.
Why did you choose the Tepper School of Business?
I selected Tepper for three reasons: analytics, culture and location. First, Tepper has created a program that seamlessly combines leadership and analytics. Like many military leaders I already had great leadership and communication skills, but lacked the cutting edge analytics and quantitative horsepower that is needed in the modern business world. Tepper is arguably the best school in the world at offering a quantitative education while allowing me to continue to refine and enhance my leadership skills. Secondly, Tepper not only provides a supportive culture for veterans, it provides a supportive culture for all of its students. We are a small but diverse community where the faculty, staff and students play a key role in supporting and shaping every MBA candidate’s experience. Lastly, location. Pittsburgh is my personal home but it is a lot more than that. It is the home to great universities, championship sports teams (GO PENS!), a budding tech scene, outstanding food and culture, and all for a fraction of what you would pay in a comparable city. Pittsburgh is a great place to call home for two years.
What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use?
I have used all my military education benefits: GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon, etc. Carnegie Mellon’s ROTC Program Manager and Veterans Benefits Coordinator, Michael Danko, is extremely helpful in navigating the GI Bill process. Furthermore, between my GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon, and other financial aid I have a fully funded MBA tuition. I believe that speaks to the support Carnegie Mellon is committed to providing for veterans.
What has your experience been like as a student or alumnus?
My experience as a student has been outstanding. Professors are always willing to take the time to ensure you understand a concept and have the support you need to succeed in this rigorous program. My classmates are always willing to take the time to help me prepare for a presentation or explain a complex mathematical concept to me. You could not ask for a more supporting and encouraging atmosphere.
Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
Yes, Yes, YES! My military experiences have made a tremendously better student. Of course, there is going to be the need to adjust and change as you leave a military environment and enter an academic one. However, my military experiences have made me a great student! I honestly believe that many military leaders have spent so much time in the military that they fail to see how much they have grown and developed since they were a civilian. As you transition back to the civilian world you will see how much better of a leader, communicator and project manager you are, along with the exceptional time management, public speaking, organization, influencing, etc. skills you have developed along the way. Those experiences will together provide a distinct advantage that generally only veterans have in the academic world.
What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
After the many difficult things you have been through, going to graduate school is going to be easy – enjoy it! This is one of the few times in life you will not be “working” and will have the opportunity to build wonderful relationships, broaden your horizons, travel, and just enjoy life. Yes, it will be busy and stressful at times, but overall your graduate degree experience is going to be very manageable. So do not let yourself get so caught up in studying, recruiting, etc. that you do not take enough time to relax and just have some fun!