“You got the wrong answer because you forgot to write off depreciation expenses. Take your tax rate and multiply it in there. That should fix the issue.” The former Marine infantry officer smiled and patted the Navy nuclear submarine officer on the back. “A Marine teaching a nuke about math — that must be a first!”

The submariner laughed, as did the dozen other military veterans sitting in the conference room in 2401 Walnut, wrestling with the fundamentals of U.S. GAAP. While they had all participated in missions on land, on sea, and in air, they now had a singular common goal — ensuring that everyone in the room passed accounting.

Although you can find MBA military veterans acting in Follies, playing rugby for the Wharthogs, and dancing at Rainbow Pub, the Wharton Veterans Club occupies a special place in the hearts of its 95 members. These individuals come from diverse military backgrounds and include international vets from Israel, Brazil, Afghanistan, South Korea, and Sweden. Most of these students have recently separated from the armed forces; some are still on active duty and will return to it after graduation. What unites the club’s members is the common bond of service, which they leverage throughout their time at Wharton as they study for tests, prepare for interviews, support new parents, and enjoy happy hours together to blow off steam after class.

Though the club dates back several decades, veterans have been a part of Wharton’s community since its founding. Today, veteran alumni return for the annual Veterans Week in early November, sharing how they’ve applied lessons learned in the military to the classroom and in their careers. In addition to supporting current veterans at the School, the club works to help future students in two ways: It assists with applications, and it hosts a semi-annual Military Visit Day, for which club members are paired with prospects of similar experience so they can offer guidance on the admissions process as well as classroom visits. For me, Military Visit Day was the most important factor in my decision to enroll at Wharton. I was on the fence about which MBA program I wanted to attend and whether I should even pursue the degree. After the day I spent with the tight-knit Wharton veterans community, I knew there was no better place for me. The club aims for every veteran to have this same reaction.

Each of us knows we didn’t get here alone, and the club’s members all strive to “pay it forward” by supporting applicants and our classmates. This attitude of mutual support is the foundation of the Veterans Club ethos, motivating its members throughout their MBA journeys and long after.


Published as “Boots to Suits” in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of  Wharton Magazine.