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Not Having to Prove Himself Proved Decisive

People and culture ‘sealed the deal’ for former DJ Michael Warburton

Michael Warburton
Management Associate Program (MAP) Intern, HP

Vanderbilt MBA 2018

For Michael Warburton, an MBA program had to be a package deal. He and his fiancé, Liz, visited schools together — and understood they needed to agree on the choice.

When they saw Vanderbilt, they knew they had agreed. “The students and people here sealed the deal,” says Michael. “They are unlike what I experienced at other schools. This really stuck out to me when we visited.”

“No other school welcomed us and wanted us here. It seemed more like I had to prove myself to other schools, not that the school had to prove itself to me. Vanderbilt didn’t act pompous.”

During his first year, Michael felt even more strongly that he and Liz had made the right choice. He noted the way professors push students in class not just to reiterate the content from textbooks but to think for themselves, speak persuasively and use evidence to justify their opinions.

Even more, when Michael thinks of highlights from his experience, he talks about playing basketball on Thursdays with a rotating group of Owen “friends and friends-to-be”; about the fun at Owen’s Global Food Fest of “seeing classmates get excited about sharing their cultures”; and about “sitting around a campfire at my house, hanging out with new friends who I had only known for a few weeks, and feeling like we had known each other for quite some time.”

As he concluded his first few months in the program he realized that Vanderbilt had no reason to be humble. “I began learning about the vast experiences of our professors,” Michael says. “There are classes with the inventor of the VIX, a guy who took down NASDAQ collusion, and many others who have done incredible things. And that was after only three Mods.”

“Every school, it seems, uses the same books, the same lingo, the same core concepts. The differentiator for Owen is that the people here are people of consequence and yet they are also humble.”

Fun Fact: In Virginia, Michael was an on-air DJ — he was known as Mike on the Mic — for a highly rated local radio station.

“It seemed more like I had to prove myself to other schools, not that the school had to prove itself to me.”