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Kathryn Spica

A guest presentation in her office was the first time Kathryn Spica heard about Chicago Business Fellows (CBF). Her company, Morningstar, hosted an information session about the program, and immediately Kathryn was intrigued by the opportunity.

“The CBF presentation at my work was really the main driver for me to apply to Chicago Booth. It seemed like a really perfect fit,” says Kathryn. “I was very impressed that the school is open minded about accepting younger candidates and had developed a program specifically tailored to ensure younger students are able to succeed and have opportunities to build skills early in their career.”

Kathryn graduated from the University of Michigan with a psychology degree in 2007 and started working for Morningstar, a financial firm that appreciates liberal arts backgrounds.

“I think getting an MBA is a strong signal to current and potential employers that you’re willing to take on a lot of responsibility at a young age,” says Kathryn. “It shows what you can do in your work and what value you can add.”

That value is ingrained in how Chicago Booth teaches students to approach problems and look at data differently. It means asking for more information at times to dig deeper and press beyond what is provided at surface level, says Kathryn.

Kathryn found the transition back to class fairly smooth since she was relatively fresh out of undergraduate and was still in the school mindset. The flexibility in schedule was also a huge plus of the program, she says. “If there is a tough quarter at work you can take that quarter off of classes or reduce the workload you have in school. Or if it’s a light quarter at the office you can ramp up and take on an additional course.”

In fact, when an opportunity to work abroad in Australia presented itself, Kathryn was extremely impressed with the incredible support she received to take time off of school. Her academic advisor not only reaffirmed the move was an excellent professional experience but provided resources that made it a breeze to take a leave of absence and come back two years later without missing a beat.

As part of the Chicago Business Fellows program, Kathryn also realized being in a cohort was exceedingly helpful because it elicited instant group partners and surrounded her with classmates in similar situations, who were going at the same pace, and had the same enthusiasm.

“CBF students blend into the mix so you wouldn’t be able to point us out, but I think we really like to get involved. You see CBF students taking on leadership roles in organizations and participating in different events and activities,” says Kathryn, who has been on several Booth panels. “We’re a really motivated group and definitely tend to make the most of our time at the Chicago Booth.”