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[Stern Speaks] provides the opportunity to learn more about each other’s pasts.
Graduating MBA student Michael Petit finds a sense of purpose in Stern’s military veterans community.
MBA student and Marine Corps veteran Michael Petit applied to Stern while serving oversees in Afghanistan. He conducted his interview by satellite phone, and after returning to the US in spring 2012 he made a rapid transition from deployed Marine to MBA student.

“My time overseas was intense, jarring, perspective changing, maddening and inspiring,” Michael describes. “I encountered daily challenges which forced me to grow as an adult and as a leader. I applied my abilities in ways that were meaningful and had significant impact. There is nothing quite like being responsible for everything from distributing wheat germ and bringing in irrigation infrastructure to building new schools and opening health clinics and centers for female entrepreneurs, all while advising local government officials and operating in a dynamic and very dangerous environment. It was a great challenge; it was a great privilege.”

Michael faced a different set of challenges in returning to civilian life: “You lose a sense of purpose. You’re happy to wake up and have warm water and not have to worry about managing an array of resources or whether the people you lead will live to see the next day, but you wonder how you can still answer the call to service and leadership, how you can find or develop a feeling of purpose and sense of community.”

Upon arriving at Stern, Michael applied this drive to a mission-related role in the Stern Military Veterans Club. “I was thinking about how to connect with those who came before, those who are here and those who will come after: the past, present and future. My goals, and those of the club’s leadership, were to professionalize the club; expand our network and promote more interaction with other top-tier schools; improve our connection with Stern military veteran alumni; establish a mentoring pipeline for prospective students; and assign a mentor to every new veteran admit to help them adjust and transition.”

Michael also played a supporting role in launching Stern Speaks, a new program which provides an opportunity for Stern MBA students to share their life stories with their classmates. “It provides the opportunity to learn more about each other’s pasts,” he explains, “and helps us to reflect on where we are on the path we set for ourselves, as well as strengthen the bonds of community and inclusiveness.”

Michael is now looking forward to his next transition to serving in the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs.