Brandeis International Business School

Johanna Silverio BA/MA’08, MBA’11: Three degrees for one alumna

Johanna SilverioAmong Brandeis alumni, Johanna Silverio has a rare distinction: she holds not one, not two, but three degrees from the University—including an MA and MBA from Brandeis International Business School. 

“At Brandeis, I feel like I’m home,” says Silverio. “It’s such a wonderful community fostered by the warmth of the staff and professors, as well as the tight-knit student body.”

Drawn to the school’s “strong academic reputation, variety of extracurricular activities, and vibrant Jewish community,” she applied to Brandeis and was accepted as part of the school’s inaugural mid-year class. As an undergraduate, she was a competitive ballroom dancer and took every course on international studies she could cram into her schedule. 

International love

“I have a passion for all things international—I love foreign languages; I love ethnic food; and I love to travel to different places,” she says. “I think that’s part of the reason why Brandeis has been such a good fit for me: At Brandeis, you're exposed to so many different people and cultures. You see there's a whole world out there and it’s exciting.” 

While studying abroad in Madrid (Silverio is a fluent Spanish speaker), she began researching graduate programs. The International Business School’s BA/MA program—which students apply to in their junior year at the university—“seemed like a perfect fit.” The curriculum focuses on international finance, economics and business, and provides students with the skills and expertise necessary to compete in global capital markets. 

“The program taught me just how interconnected the international financial system is and gave me a deep understanding for how movements of one country impact another,” says Silverio, who supplemented the curriculum with a program at National Chengchi University in Taipei. 

Dealing with the financial crisis

After graduation, she did a stint at MassMutual and then moved on to a job as a client manager at REO Property Advisors, based on Cape Cod. At REO, she helped shore up the value of homes going through the foreclosure process. It was the height of the subprime mortgage crisis: delinquencies and foreclosures were a common feature of the financial landscape.

The days were long and the pace was hectic. Silverio relished the challenge but she wanted to get back to Boston and so she started applying for new jobs. “I realized that almost every job I wanted required an MBA,” she says. “I didn't want to lose out on opportunities because I didn't have that credential.” 

Once again, Brandeis was the best option. The school’s MBA Add-On program, which is available to alumni in the MA program with at least two years of professional experience, emphasizes frameworks and tools for managing international firms. “I chose Brandeis IBS because I knew I’d be challenged and I knew I’d get a good education,” she says. “And the school was willing to help me figure out a course load that would work with my schedule.”

She commuted to campus three days per week and took part in group projects through web-enabled technology. She specialized in international business and also participated in the World Financial Centers (WFC) program, which included a one-week travel experience to Chile.

Staying connected

Silverio remains active in Brandeis’ alumni and development offices and also attends networking events for students. “I think it's important for alumni to give back,” she says. “As a student, you want that.”

Class of 2008

Master of Business Administration
Class of 2011

Home country
United States

Senior Associate, Real Estate and Investment Management at Urban Initiatives

Previous Experience
Boston Financial Investment Management, REO Property Advisors, MassMutual Life Investor Services

Undergraduate University & Major
Brandeis (major in International and Global Studies, minor in Economics)

Jiaxin Zhang
Jiaxin Zhang

BA/MA’19 | China

Peter Wein
Peter Wein

BA/MA’15 | United States

Marshall Santoso
Marshall Santoso

BA/MA’13 | Philippines