A native Miamian, HBS alum Maxeme Tuchman (MBA 2012) spent the early part of her career working as a Teach for America corps member in her hometown.

Maxeme later went on to work in the New York City Mayor’s Office and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation before enrolling at HBS. In 2013, after a brief interlude in consulting, Maxeme was named the Executive Director of Teach for America for Miami-Dade.

We checked in with Maxeme to learn more about her time at HBS, what she’s been up to lately, and her advice for prospective students.  

Can you tell us more about what you’ve been doing since leaving HBS?

I went into consulting right after school. About three months in I got a call from Teach For America to see if I'd be interested in running the region down in Miami. As a public school graduate from Miami and having taught there (through TFA) I couldn't turn the position down. I now manage a staff of 26, who support over 500 corps members and alums, and I raised our $6M operating budget. We transform the lives of more than 20,000 kids every day and I couldn't be more proud and fulfilled.

What brought you to HBS?

First, the case method really fit my learning style. Second, I loved that HBS was a residential school. I spoke to students at business schools in NYC and they griped about not having the opportunity to get to know their classmates well because everyone seemed to have other competing social networks. One of the best parts of the MBA is the network. You don't want to lose that. Third, HBS has a strong social enterprise culture and they value those of us that use our MBAs in the public/non-profit sectors.

What is your favorite HBS memory?

For me, my most vivid memory happened before I even set foot on campus- it was when I called my grandmother to tell her that I had been admitted. You see, I’m a Jewban (a Jewish Cuban) and my family history includes escaping the Bolshevik revolution and the Holocaust to settle in Cuba, only to turn around and flee the communist regime and seek out religious and political freedom in the US. Growing up, my grandmother impressed upon me that education was the only thing you could take with you when leaving a country in the middle of the night.

Even with that sage advice, she and both of my parents had never attained more than a high school education. Having the opportunity to give her that pride, that our family’s struggles had not been in vain, and that we had truly achieved the American Dream, will always stick with me as my proudest moment. Having her see me walk across the graduation stage at the Kennedy School and the Business School will always be my second. 

How did HBS shape what kind of leader you are?

HBS taught me to make decisions without all of the information. 

How do you stay connected to HBS and why is it important to you?

I am really committed to coaching and mentoring women and people of color through the admissions process. As a minority female myself, I know what it's like to not have the same access to networks and opportunities and it’s my goal to close that gap. I’m still in touch with a couple of professors and pretty involved with the HBS Club in Miami.  

What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday?

Playing on the beach. I get 52 of those Sundays a year. ;)

What’s your favorite book?

The Alchemist. I read it every year, and each year it means something totally different to me.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Look after those coming up behind you. Someone looked after you. None of us got here on our own. Respect that and be humble.

Do you have any special talents?

Photography…and I can survive on about four hours of sleep a nightbut that's more of a superpower than a talent.

If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive) who would they be?

Golda Meir, Nelson Mandela, and my grandmother Regina who survived Auschwitz.

What’s most important to you in life?

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." - Jackie Robinson

If I'm not making a positive impact on my community, large or small, life is not worth living.

What would you say to prospective students who are considering applying to HBS?

Do it. Don't self-select yourself out. The Admissions team truly crafts an incredibly diverse class, in so many respects, so don't assume your talents, background, or future passions won't fit at HBS. They absolutely will and you'll make everyone’s experience better for it.

Update: In August 2015 Maxeme was appointed to the 2015-2016 class of White House Fellows.