In part two of our student group we explore how groups create opportunities for students to pursue passions beyond the classroom, take on new challenges, and make lifelong friends. We asked students about their favorite special interest groups and shared some of their experiences below.
As the student-produced variety club, Chicago Booth Follies puts on several comedy-related events in the fall and winter, but the main event is the show in spring. “Booth’s annual variety show has actually been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences I’ve had here,” said John DeChellis, ’16. “I’ve never really been involved in anything related to theater, so the opportunity to stretch myself by helping to write scripts, come up with scenes, and think about comedy in a structured way was incredibly new to me. It opened my mind in so many ways.”
Booth Sports Clubs
Open to students of all skill levels, Booth's 10+ team sport groups let students take an active approach to making connections outside of the classroom. Said Jenny Dunn, '16, of the Booth Volleyball Club. "I've been really happy that I could channel my existing interest in athletics to a number of the social activities at Booth." Sports clubs also allow students to flex competitive muscles in non-business situations, like the annual basketball game against The Kellogg School of Management, which was played at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. "It's just so amazing to have that competitive drive outside of your classes and career search,” said Gordon Taylor, ’16, of Booth’s Basketball Club. Ramiro Sanchez,’16, of the Soccer Club agreed, "It’s been a great outlet. We won two MBA tournaments and I love that the club allows me to experience and pursue this passion."
Partners Club and Parents of Little Ones (POLO)
As an official club, the Booth Partners network is comprised of spouses and significant others of current students. In addition to events and monthly social activities, Drew Thomas, ’16, appreciated that Booth as a whole offered his family a day-to-day community. “For my wife, Jen, being part of the Partner’s Club has given her a community here that she can just dive into and thrive in.” Ray Liu, ’17, agreed, “Within the Partner Group, there is a subcommittee called POLO. We get to hang out with a lot of Boothies who have kids and organize interesting family events like visits to the zoo."
Affinity groups create a smaller community within Booth that focus on the different perspectives and needs of various student populations from diverse backgrounds. Diversity is strongly valued here at Booth, and students’ commitment to fostering an open environment drives the different affinity groups’ constant support of each other’s missions.
Hispanic American Business Student Association (HABSA)
HABSA seeks to mobilize resources for US resident Hispanic students and promote academic, professional, and social dialogue. As a member, Gaspar Betancourt, ’16, was pleased to find “a community of Hispanic-American students who look to each other and find comfort in our similar backgrounds and shared experiences.” He continued, “We organize dinners and have a really great time getting to know people on a more personal level. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with your roots and stay connected to who you are.”
African American MBA Association (AAMBAA)
AAMBAA connects students of African descent with the Chicago Booth community, corporate partners, and the city of Chicago. Meeting speakers from the 30th annual DuSable Conference was a highlight for Gordon Taylor, ‘16, “The conference brings in leaders from the African American community, one being John Rogers, chairman and founder of Ariel Investments. Hearing his perspective and knowing that somebody who looks like me is at the top of the investment world was really inspiring.”
Outreach is Booth’s student group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students, and allies. “We connect the local population of Booth students that identify as LGBTQ with our greater ally community, create opportunities for people to understand what it means to be LGBTQ in the workplace, as well as how to create a safe environment,” said Erik Underwood, ‘17. The group facilitates programming around ally education and fun social activities to create a wider community within Booth. One of the largest events every year is the Pink Party, which draws over 300 Booth students to a drag performance by student allies. “We got a lot of support and involvement -- we actually had Diversity Affairs office staff and faculty act as judges. I'm really grateful to have such a strong community here at Booth.”
Booth Hacks Group
Students of all backgrounds and levels of experience can get involved in tech through the Booth Hacks group. As someone already familiar with tech, Jake Walker, ’15, enjoyed the monthly workshops that cover anything from SQL to learning how to create an app. Interest in the group has grown quickly. Jake notes, “The Intro to Coding Fundamentals program was so popular, that it actually became an official eight-week course in the subsequent quarter.”
Booth Dance Club
As choreographers behind the famous First Day flash mob - the Dance Club provides a creative outlet for students at Chicago Booth. "It's so fun seeing people in a different context. You don't always expect that someone who was recruiting for banking or consulting would also have such impressive dance ability," said club member Sana Suh, '16. "People really put as much effort into these student groups as they do into their classes and recruiting."
Armed Forces Group (AFG)
“Being a member of AFG has paid so many dividends because of the pay-it-forward mentality here at Booth,” said Navy veteran Drew Thomas, ’16. “The group isn’t just US veterans, but veterans from all over the world including Israel, South Korea, and other nations.” Students share in their past experiences and assist one another in positioning their backgrounds to pursue future careers. Before school starts, AFG reaches out to new members to assess what they are interested in,” continued Drew. “We have regular club meetings. We network with Booth alumni who are veterans, as well as veterans at large, to help prepare one another.”
International students make up more than a third of the student population at Booth,creating a welcoming environment with endless opportunities to engage peers from around the world. In addition to classroom exchanges, their diverse experiences are shared through more than a dozen regionally-focused student groups.
As co-chair of the Japan Club, Nobu Kawai, ‘17, organized a spring break trip to his native country of Japan for more than 50 students and their partners. “It was really interesting to exchange our thoughts and views, while introducing members to my home country.” Following the trip, the club took part in International Week on campus, sharing Japanese, tradition, and culture with the larger Booth community.
Korean Business Group
The Korean Business group is a forum for students who are from or have an interest in Korea with events that are both career-related and social in nature. In addition to Korean food tasting, Korean movie nights, networking with Korean companies, and other social events, Sana Suh, ’16, felt “it was just really nice to be able to meet other Koreans and share in the experience together.”
Latin American Business Group (LABG)
LABG seeks to foster engagement between Booth and Latin American alumni, corporations, and institutions. The groups’ 150 members represent over 20 countries and organize networking events and socials. Having moved from Santiago to Chicago, Erik Underwood, ’17, joined LABG to find other students who were working within Latin America and “keep up-to-date on the different industries back home.”
Middle Eastern North Africa Group (MENA)
The MENA Group focuses on supporting Middle Eastern students in the global academic society and develops platforms of cultural and business ties between the US and MENA region. As a Co-Chair, Ziad Abouchadi, ’17, seeks to “promote the culture and the language of the region.” Recently, the group organized several panels where experts in the region discussed a wide range of topics from the Iran deal to the role of women in the Middle East. They also organized food tasting events, social mixers, as well as treks to Dubai and Morocco. “I’m extremely proud not only of being a member of this dynamic group,” said Ziad, “but also of a community as open and broad-minded as Chicago Booth.”
Hear from more students about all of our business and professional groups, or keep up with what’s going on at Booth via our student blog. For specific questions, connect with a student, or comment below. You can also join any of our live chats to talk directly with students!