In November, as the nation honors those who had served in the US Armed Forces, Chicago Booth salutes its more than 900 alumni who have served our country.

Update: November 2016
Nathan Matere has accepted a full-time position with IBM Consultancy Services in New York. 

 

While the pursuit of a business degree after life in the military may seem an unlikely career move, this year, more than 100 Booth students are veterans.

Although they might possess more military than business experience, veterans bring an unparalleled depth, maturity, and perspective to the classroom, substantially strengthening the student body, and enriching the learning process for their peers. Nathan Matare, a veteran completing his military service this year, is the first student to benefit from the recent $1.5 million veteran scholarship gift made by Richard A. Friedman, ’81.

Matare was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and immigrated to America when he was five years old. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army National Guard and became a US citizen in 2009 to get the necessary security clearance to become part of the Army’s Special Forces.

“I joined the military because I had such fantastic opportunities growing up here,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but I really feel as though my family and I were able to realize the American dream. When we immigrated here, we had a couple of suitcases, spoke very little English, and struggled financially. But through access to education, we were slowly able to climb the economic and social ladder. I felt that I had a debt to America that I wanted to repay.”

He trained as a Green Beret and was deployed to many overseas locations, including Bangladesh, South Korea, Thailand, and Germany, where he spent time advising and mentoring foreign militaries. Matare graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 2012 and then decided to apply to business school.

“I always thought I wanted an international career but I really missed the states when I was abroad,” Matare said. “In the Army, I trained foreign militaries and really enjoyed improving their capabilities. I then decided to pursue an MBA to build on that consulting experience. During my research, I became really excited about Chicago Booth. Through the application process, everyone I spoke with was more than willing to take time from their busy schedule to guide me through the application process. That sense of community, even before I made a decision to enroll, resonated with me and helped make my decision easier. I also appreciated Booth’s flexible curriculum, which allowed me to tailor my courses to my interests and passions. And, of course, I knew the faculty was world renowned.”

While the GI Bill pays tuition for a state school, Matare wasn’t sure he could afford the higher cost of Booth. He had also been accepted to Yale with a full scholarship, but then got the news that he was the first to benefit from Friedman’s gift.

“That was a clear signal that Booth wanted me in the program,” Matare said. “I would absolutely not have been able to come here without that scholarship. The scholarships available to veterans at Chicago Booth are simply incredible.”

In addition to gifts specifically dedicated to veterans’ scholarships, others contribute smaller amounts to Booth’s Yellow Ribbon program, which helps bridge the gap between the benefits veterans have earned from the government and the remaining cost of their degrees. The school would like to acknowledge the generosity of the 31 donors who have contributed more than $2 million to support the school’s veteran initiatives in 2014-15. Booth also would like to thank all who have fought to protect our country.

To read the recent veterans story which appeared in the winter 2015 issue of Chicago Booth Magazine, click here.

Originally published on November 2015.