For Alejandro Smith ’18, MBA ’23, broadening his horizons has always been at the core of his decisions.
“I am a first-generation college graduate,” Smith says. “It has always been a passion of mine to pursue higher education to set a good example for my family. Coming back for my MBA made sense.”
The Calvert County-native attended the College of Southern Maryland before transferring to Maryland Smith, where he majored in finance and graduated cum laude. As one of four siblings whose parents didn’t attend college, Smith overcame a unique set of challenges as an undergraduate.
“One of the most challenging things as an undergrad was working full-time as a server at Old Ebbitt Grill in D.C.,” Smith says. “I was also a teaching assistant at the business school. Between those commitments, maintaining my grades and trying to have a social life, it was a lot to balance.”
Smith credits Maryland Smith for helping overcome challenges. “Everyone is incredibly supportive,” he says. From faculty, to career services, to his peers, “We all want to see each other succeed.”
After starting a career in sales in San Diego and transitioning to a finance role in biotech, Smith was drawn back to Maryland Smith’s community.
“Some of my favorite memories were the events that fostered a sense of community outside of class, like Smith Stacks and Smith Day,” Smith says. “Now in grad school, we have events like Monte Carlo Night, explained to me as MBA prom, that bring students across MBA programs together outside the classroom and foster a larger community.”
Smith has also found community and personal growth through leadership roles, including as a track representative for the full-time MBA program, managing the full-time MBA advisory council, and as a Mayer Fund analyst. He says financial support from the Cobey and Milt Matthews Scholarship and a graduate assistantship have also been vital to his success.
For future students, Smith recommends keeping an open mind.
“Life is going to take you a lot of different ways. More people have non-traditional backgrounds now, and taking a holistic approach to your education affords you the opportunity to explore more opportunities.”
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.