Marcus Wordlaw, senior assistant director of Admissions, believes that one of the best ways to create an inclusive environment is to not only welcome, but strive to learn from those who have different backgrounds from ourselves. “Be it industry experience, gender, race, religious affiliation, or geographical upbringing – Booth students are all a bit different and that diversity is present within our community,” he says. “Students learning from each other is one of the pillars of the Chicago Approach at Booth, and the greater diversity is represented in the classroom, the more rich conversations become, and ultimately a deeper level of knowledge is achieved”.
Admissions places an emphasis on candidates that can engage, contribute, and add value to this diverse atmosphere created on campus. It is an important component of Admissions and a driving force in our events such as diversity receptions and women’s events throughout the year. Additionally, prospective students have access to certain events that the student groups highlighted below conduct throughout the year.
Women represent 26% and international students comprise 26% of the Evening Weekend program. Booth’s director of diversity and inclusion, Maria Ocasio says: “We actively collaborate across offices, Booth administration and students to recruit and support underrepresented students of color, women, military, and LGBTQ students through hosting various events and partnering with several organizations to reach and attract the best students and brightest minds.”
Diversity is represented by Evening and Weekend MBA student-run affinity and interest groups such as the Armed Forces Group, Booth Pride Club, Coalition of Minorities in Business and Graduate Women in Business. These groups provide a space for programming, leadership development, and most importantly, allow for the strengthening of a shared bond that endures after graduation. Below, co-chairs of each group tell us more about their groups’ mission and activities.
Armed Forces Group
Leonard Fischer, Evening MBA student and U.S. Army infantry officer
The mission of the group is to build esprit de corps and a strong professional network of Booth alumni and current students with previous military experience. We also assist prospective military candidates with the Booth application process and advocate the admission of qualified veterans. The AFG conducts two large annual events in unison with the full-time group – a Veterans Day dinner and a paintball match. Additionally, we host quarterly networking events for veterans and anyone else who is interested in good company.
To us, the Booth Community mirrors the military community with its focus on teamwork and collaboration. As a whole, we embrace the Chicago Approach and the Booth spirit of “Pay it Forward!”
Shawn Albert, Evening MBA student and associate data scientist, Blue Cross and Blue Shield
We see ourselves as a social organization that aims to foster a safe and inclusive community beyond the standard Booth community, tailored to the needs of LGBTQ students. This past year, we focused primarily on more social activities to foster an inclusive environment and held joint events between the part-time and full-time programs. We have a retreat each spring, this year we were in Austin. Pink Party is one of our larger events- we rent out one of the large bars in Boystown and have student performances in drag and professors judge. It’s the first time performing in drag for most of the students and an opportunity to try that creative form of expression and get on stage and perform in front of their business school peers. Individuals who are not normally in LGBTQ spaces have the opportunity to be with their peers.
Coalition of Minorities in Business
Watchen Nyanue, Evening MBA student, founder, I Choose the Ladder, and vice president marketing partnerships, Chicago Sky
Our group started as a place for students of color at Booth, to have a sense of community within the larger community, and to create programming that reflects their unique needs. Our goal is to create opportunities for students of color to connect to each other. We mainly run social events, such as informal lunches, to build relationships among members. We’ve had networking sessions with the full-time Booth students as well as students at other business schools so that we can expand our network. This year our focus will be on connecting with alumni of color as well.
To me, the Booth community is made up of really smart people who enjoy having a good time. It’s a friendly community of people who want to make a difference in the world. Students, faculty and staff are really collaborative and are always willing to help.
Graduate Women in Business
Bryttie Kurtenbach, Evening MBA student and account executive, Microsoft
Our mission is to create an open forum for women to talk about their real challenges in the workplace. Our events fall into three categories- professional development, mentorship and networking. This year we have events planned on learning how to be a good financial steward and a celebration for International Women's Day. From a networking perspective, we look to have fun together and build a community where we can enjoy and learn from each other. This past year we had a networking event where we partnered with Dress for Success. A couple of times a month we’ll have coffee before class and an open forum where we come together and discuss an article or TED talk that was sent out ahead of time.
We have a very diverse group of women who want to make a difference. The women at Booth want to be part of the conversation around diversity, and want to encourage other women to be their best selves.
Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.