When Yvonne Mondragón finished the Berkeley Haas undergraduate program in 2016, she worked for seven years in finance, planning a long-term career in investment banking.
“I knew I wanted to come back to school in order to pivot into investment banking and work in banking at the highest level,” she said.
Mondragón, MBA 25, is now well on her way, as one of 11 first-year full-time Haas MBA students named among Haas’ 2023 Finance Fellows.
As fellows, the students receive a scholarship award and are assigned mentors—Haas alumni working in finance, including recent graduates and senior executives.
The 2023 fellows include:
- Mondragón, for the C&J White Fellowship in Finance.
- Isabella Fantini, Renzo Viale Paiva, Marya Unwala, and Martin Lima for entrepreneurial finance.
- Venky Vuppalapati, Gauri Deshpande, Hector Alamillo, and Erik Swisher for investment banking.
- Daniel Espinoza Birman and Rogério Rios for private equity and investment management.
About 45% of these new fellows are international, reflecting the percentage of the overall MBA class, said William Rindfuss, managing director for Strategic Programs with the Haas Finance Group. Several of the students bring work experience in different finance sectors from their home countries, and are looking to pivot to larger sectors in the U.S.
Vuppalapati, who is from India, said he’s drawn to the excitement of technology investment banking, and closely tracks how world events, the day’s news, and government policy impact financial markets.
“When I think of investment banking, I also think about how much any one deal can impact different people and different industries,” he said. “Tech has the largest impact, so it feels like a great fit.”
Rios, originally from Brazil, said he’s fascinated by innovation in health care, which led him to pursue a MBA/MPH degree.
“Innovation and technology are going to shape the future, and I want to be in a place that would not only give me an opportunity to be close to financial markets but also provide a solid understanding of how business and tech intersect with health care.”
Inspired by the four Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles—Question the Status Quo; Confidence Without Attitude; Students Always; and Beyond Yourself—Rios added that he is seeking to make an impact on the world and give back to his family.
“I’m a first-generation student, so a lot of my efforts are in the spirit of giving back to them and to my community,” he said.
Mondragón, who is also a first-generation college student, said she hopes to serve as a role model.
“Having someone who looks like me in the finance space is so important,” she said. “I have the lived experience of someone who did not benefit from this space. I grew up not having much access to any of the knowledge that I have now.”
Fantini said she is coupling passions for both technology and venture capital at Haas—and adding a lifelong interest in the food supply chain.
“Haas has such an amazing focus on sustainability and food,” Fantini said. “I knew I could stay connected to Silicon Valley, stay connected to venture, and get even more connected to food resources by coming here for an MBA.”