Paula Santamaria-Missetzis

My Trajectory

General info
Open to speaking about:
Resources I used on my MBA application journey

Ivy Advisors and Magoosh

One thing I wish I knew about the MBA application process

How much being myself would be an asset rather than a limitation. I spent too much time trying to figure out "how I should angle my story in order to fit the school". Once I decided that I only wanted to go to a school that would accept me for who I am (nontraditional background, nonlinear career track, *just* decent GRE score..etc) - it was a game changer. "


​​“Para atrás ni para tomar impulso.” (Never take a step back, not even to build momentum) said my dad when we landed in Newark, NJ in August 2002. I remember thinking that we were moving to “Disney” because it was my reference of the United States. I was nervous but excited because I had lived in fear in Colombia. My dad is a filmmaker who spent years in the most dangerous parts of the country documenting the war and narcotrafficking of drugs. Soon after I turned 10, my family became the target of death threats and we were forced to flee the country. My new school in the US was predominantly Anglo and not only did not have an ESL program but also had no Spanish speakers. Although my family and I had just gone through a very traumatic experience we knew that we had to adapt.

Despite my hardships, I always thought of my fathers words, “Para atrás ni para tomar impulso.” The drive that I gained throughout my childhood is what has allowed me to easily adapt to new environments, advocate for others, and what ignited my desire to pursue an MBA to advance to new levels and create impact at a macro-level.

I grew up wanting to be a lawyer but through my professional experiences, I learned about the value of an MBA. Fortunately, I was mentored and guided to join the private sector so that I could prove that I could handle the quantitative rigor. I made it my mission to join the tech industry after I curated a trip for a delegation of executives from the Inter-American Development Bank to Silicon Valley. Despite not having a finance background, I was hired by HP to be the “finance lead” of the Software Engineering group, and a year later, I was recruited by an Executive to become her Chief of Staff, which is the role I served for two years until I left for business school.

I decided to apply to business school in 2016 and ended up hitting submit in R1 of 2019. I was determined to push through every hurdle that I faced. I took the GRE 6x, during those three years – my education was very fractured so standardized tests aren’t my friends, but I was determined to beat it. I was denied by MLT (twice!), I was turned down from other dream opportunities but I found people and programs such as Ivy Advisors and MIT Sloan along the way that believed in me. In hindsight, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey. It has prepared me to get here! Sometimes, you have to trust the universe and remember, “Para atrás ni para tomar impulso.”

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