Rice MBA Student Builds Success with National Real Estate Scholarship Win

Rice MBA Sara Hesson was one of two graduate and five undergraduate students in the nation to win a CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network Foundation real estate scholarship this summer. The organization’s mission is "to influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women” and offers the recipients thousands of dollars in scholarship money to help them achieve their career goals.

Hesson developed a passion for real estate at a young age. "My father would take my brother and me on tours through the houses being built in our subdivision," she explains. "I was fascinated by all the components that made up each 'layer' of those custom homes." Her interest would later encompass the nuts and bolts, "the planning, estimating, scheduling, and financing" of the development process.

To gain the skills and education she'd need to pursue a career in her chosen field, Hesson earned a bachelor’s degree in construction science with a minor in business administration from Texas A&M University. While completing the program, she worked for Manhattan Construction Company in Dallas. And upon graduation, she spent several years as a property analyst for Cost Segregation Services, a real estate tax advisory firm.

But Hesson decided she was ready to stretch her business knowledge and began considering MBA programs.

"The idea behind getting an MBA was transitioning into real estate consulting or development," she says. "I looked into SMU and Rice, but in addition to the beautiful campus, high-caliber professors and reputation of Rice, the opportunities for real estate in Houston just couldn't be beat."

Last year, Hesson was a first-year representative for the Real Estate Club at the Jones School. This year, as co-president, she’s furthering her leadership skills with the organization, which among its many functions competes against other MBA programs in CASE competitions and helps students network with potential hiring companies.

Over the summer Hesson completed an internship with Whole Foods Market in Austin. "I'm a bit biased," the Austin native laughs, "but I had one of the cooler summer experiences. I provided corporate-level due diligence and helped create an implementation plan for new store development, remodels, and expansions. I'm interested in doing something similar when I graduate.”

She says that it became evident during her internship that the MBA coursework had impacted her presentation skills. “I was constantly getting compliments on my PowerPoints, documents, deliverables and presentation of information. The MBA program has definitely improved those skills.”

Hesson, who graduates May 2013, is looking forward to taking on another internship at a commercial real estate firm as part of her CREW Foundation scholarship.

— M. Yvonne Taylor