A Marine’s journey to the Notre Dame MBA

Author: Christine Cox

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In 2011, Marine Sgt. Benjamin Hota faced one of the most important decisions of his life: Committing another four years to the career he loved or leaving the military to settle down with a family.

“It was a tough choice, even though it was between two great opportunities,” he recalls. “I had a steady income, I was respected in my field, I had a good career trajectory. It was a little intimidating to think about starting from scratch and finding a way to transition my military skills to the civilian world. In the military, the way you walk, talk, and dress are all dictated to you. And when you get out, it’s a very different experience.”

He ultimately decided to leave his 6-year aviation logistics career with the Marines and earn a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Louisville.

Putting forth the same passion and determination he had in the Marines, he loaded up on credit hours and found a finance position with Humana. Still, he excelled in his studies and finished his degree in three years with summa cum laude honors.

And while he was grateful for his job at Humana, he was dissatisfied with the lack of opportunity to exercise leadership skills he’d honed in the military.

“The responsibility and scope of decision making that I had in the military before I had a college degree far exceeded the slice of the pie I was given with a college degree,” he says. “I started thinking about how I could make the impact I wanted to make.”

SAYING YES TO THE MBA
One of Hota's mentors at Humana urged him to consider an MBA, particularly at Notre Dame. Hota became convinced and started checking out schools. And though he was accepted at higher-ranked institutions, he committed to Notre Dame.

“When I came to visit, Notre Dame’s mission, culture and purpose really got to me,” Hota says. “There was something real here that I wanted to be part of. The veteran presence allowed me to build a network fast. I’d reach out to one veteran and two would respond to me. They couldn’t help me enough. That didn’t happen at other schools.”

Mendoza’s commitment to business for the greater good especially appealed to Hota. “The values of Mendoza and the military closely align,” he says. “It’s that commitment to service and concern for the greater good. And the veterans that are here understand that completely. It’s real here. That’s why I chose Notre Dame.”

He entered the program in 2015 and has thrived.

“Business school exposes you to new things, new people, new ideas, new ways of doing things. It’s amazing,” he says. “Especially for veterans, I say that the MBA softens our edges and sharpens our skills. People leave the military with strong leadership skills. The MBA is perfect for learning how to apply our existing military leadership skills to new environments.”

Hota will transfer his MBA and military knowledge and skills to a position with American Airlines in Dallas-Fort Worth after graduating in May.

“With such a strong background from the Marines and the Mendoza MBA, I’m extremely confident and excited to start the next chapter of my life,” he says. “I’m very blessed.”

Contact Ben Hota about the Notre Dame MBA at bhota@nd.edu