Part of the 43%: A First-Year Student Perspective (Part 1)

By Haas School of Business

In this first part of a three-part series on gender balance at Haas, guest blogger Ryann Kopacka, MBA 16, shares her experiences as a new admit to the Full-TIme MBA program. Coming Monday: Ryann writes about what it's been like during her first few weeks of classes. In Part 3, a male student will share his perspective on gender balance at Haas.

Women In Leadership Retreat_Big Group_sized(above)Group photo at the Women in Leadership retreat in September


There is something different about Haas this school year.

It is not the hum of construction for the new building, nor is it the addition of sushi in the café.

There are more WOMEN!

The incoming Full-Time Berkeley MBA Class of 2016 boasts 43% women, the highest in the business school’s history and the highest reported among its peers. I am even more impressed by the leap of 14 percentage points from the previous class, and the increase in average GMAT score. I am proud to be member of the Class of 2016.

After I received an exciting phone call earlier this year from Assistant Dean Stephanie Fujii offering me admission, the Haas community continued to reach out to me. Erin Kellerhals, now executive director of FTMBA Admissions, called to welcome me to Haas and offered a listening ear at any time. I also got a call from fellow-East-Coaster Akilah Huguley, MBA 15 and vice president of admissions for her class, who asked if I had any questions or concerns about moving west.

When I attended Days at Haas for new admits, Eliza Rosenbaum from the Class of 2014 spoke at the Women in Leadership breakfast about her decision to attend Haas. Eliza was open about her experience moving from her home in New York to Berkeley. I felt like she was talking right to me. And though I didn’t know at the time, I was also sitting next to my future roommate.

The common thread in these touchpoints was that the Haas community of women was genuinely interested in getting to know me, and in helping me gather the information I needed to make my decision. I am thankful for the dedication of current students and the admissions office. These efforts demonstrate how members of the Haas community go beyond themselves to make a difference to others, and to ensure that school's gender balance matches its culture and values.

Ryann, 2nd from right, and new classmates at orientation week Ryann, 2nd from right, and new classmates at orientation week


I ultimately chose Haas because I believe it offers me the most holistic education, especially in providing diverse perspectives, ideas, and experiences. The Defining Principles resonated with me before I came, and so far have been prevalent in my interactions on campus. I am most impressed with the confidence among the Haas community, interlaced with an openness to new ideas and a concern about the well-being of others. My classmate Ashley Lohmann embodies this principle: she previously worked on Middle Eastern security policy and is now launching her own company to help social impact organizations in the Middle East share stories that we do not see on the news.

I feel that my classmates are encouraging me to question what society considers to be commonplace and to support me in making changes and finding solutions.

Stay tuned for my next post on my experiences at Haas so far!

Ryann_finish_sized(Left)Ryann crosses the finish line at the 2014 World Triathlon Championship

Ryann Kopacka is a member of the Full-Time Berkeley MBA Class of 2016. From Atlanta, Georgia, Ryann worked as a consultant in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice, focusing on supply chain operations and analytics. She also worked as a marketing intern at Osmo Nutrition, a sports nutrition startup company with a line of products specifically formulated for women. Ryann earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Industrial Engineering at Georgia Tech, where she competed on the Varsity Swim Team and held three school records. Now a member of Team USA, Ryann recently competed at the 2014 World Triathlon Championship held in Edmonton, Canada.

Topics: Diversity