Thursday, February 20, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CST Spotlight on Student Life: Diversity and Inclusion at Chicago Booth
Join the current student members of our Affinity Team for a live online chat. Representing the African American MBA Association (AAMBAA), the Hispanic American Business Students Association (HABSA), and OUTreach, these students will help you learn more about the inclusive and supportive community at Booth.
Guest: Talk about the criteria that led you to choose to Booth!
* Lily Orlin: I was in finance before Booth and knew that I wanted to stay in finance after so I started by looking at schools that I knew had strong reputations and course offerings in this area. I also had never lived outside of New England before Booth so was hoping to attend a school that would push me to get to know a different part of the country. As I started to get to know Booth through the application process, and then through attending First Day I was really attracted to the flexible curriculum and the pay it forward culture. The course offerings and professors were also very exciting. At Booth, you have the opportunity to take classes from Nobel Laureates and other leaders in their field. Additionally, I had a positive impression of everyone I interacted with at Booth and could see myself developing strong relationships with these people.
Guest: How does Booth help admits from Africa settle in?
* Seun Akinboboye: There is a lot of programming between both AAMBAA (African American MBA Association) and CABG (Chicago Africa Business Group) for students from the African continent and for greater Booth community to learn about the African Diaspora. One of my favorite events here at Booth was the “Jollof Wars” competition, where we conducted a blind taste test of jollof rice from the different countries in Africa. The Ghanaian Jollor rice won, but as a proud supporter of the glorious parboiled and stewed rice from Nigeria, I demand a recount. Also, the Emerging Markets Summit highlighted the numerous Booth current students and alumni that are engaged in Business within the African continent.
Guest: Please touch on extracurricular activities and opportunities for on-campus involvement for diverse students - specifically Black students
* Seun Akinboboye: I can honestly say that students of color are well positioned to partake in and to lead on-campus activities here at Booth. We have a number of students that are in high ranking roles in the GBC, our graduate business council. One of our AAMBAA (African American MBA Association) members ran for president last year and in the prior year an AAMBAA member was the VP. Business school is a “stretch experience” so we encourage one another to lead initiatives that will not only shape the experience of African American/ African students here at Booth, but also the experience of the greater student body.
Guest: Hi there! I'd like to know whether there are any specific university-wide initiatives for diversity and inclusion at Chicago Booth? Thanks!
* Sena Agawu: Booth has an office dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion, which is unique. The director works closely with students from a multitude of backgrounds to create community, put on events, and support various student groups, including AAMBAA, HABSA, and OUTreach.
Guest: Could someone please speak to their experience as a student of color at Booth?
* Jose Guerra: The Booth diversity community is very close and tight knit. Because Booth is all about flexibility, I cannot say that there is one set of experiences that as students of color we go through. As for me, I can say that being a HABSA co-chair and having the chance to work to grow the community and increase camaraderie within it, it has been extremely rewarding to be here.
Guest: Hello! Can I ask what the criteria for being chosen as LEAD Facil? What do you think is the most important characteristic as a LEAD Facil?
* Vincent Ho: I would say that the best place to start would be being very engaged in your LEAD programming as a first year. As you go through, think about if being on the other side as a LEAD Facil is something you’d want to do. It’s a lot of work and a big commitment, and considering how many other amazing opportunities there are at Booth, it’s important to be confident that you are applying to be a LEAD Facil because it’s something you actually want to do. That being said, I would imagine they are looking for people who are very engaged and interested in the content, good leaderships skills, strong presentation skills, an ability to bring groups together, collaboration, teamwork, etc. Good luck if you decide to apply when you are here!
Guest: Hi, thanks for doing this. Should all questions for this session be focused on Diversity Inclusion, or are any Booth questions okay to ask? (I'm new to the live chat sessions)
* Sena Agawu: While this session is intended to provide applicants the space to answer questions about diversity and inclusion, we are happy to touch on some more basic Booth questions.
Guest: Hello, this question is for Lily and Vincent. Is it possible for prospective students to attend OUTReach events to get a feel of the community?
* Lily Orlin: There is an opportunity for prospective students to get lunch with a current student and OUTreach member at Harper Center on campus. These are usually scheduled through our admissions co-chair, Carl DeFranco. We also pair up current students with prospective students in order to help you prepare for the application and interviews. Lastly, we host a few OUTreach specific events at First Day for admitted students, including a potluck dinner and night out in Boystown so that admits can get to know all of OUTreach.
Guest: Hello! I was wondering how the diverse Booth culture has affected your post-MBA career plans?
* Seun Akinboboye: Students of color have played a huge role in my summer internship recruitment process and post MBA career plans. One of the benefits of attending Booth, is that you come across classmates and alumni that have achieved your short term and long term goals. The toughest mock interviews that I had during my first year, were conducted by students of color that were second years. They took an active role in preparing from a marathon of a recruitment process and were very candid with me along the way. There truly is a pay-it-forward culture at Booth and I believe that this culture deeply resonates with students of color here at Booth.
Guest: Vincent & Lily, can you speak to the type of LGBTQ+ involvement opportunities outside of Booth that you've gotten to be involved with? (i.e. LGBTQ+ engagement in the larger Chicago community)
* Vincent Ho: Vincent here. I play a lot of volleyball, so I joined an LGBTQ volleyball league up in Boystown that runs out of the Center on Halsted. It’s definitely a great community center to get connected with the broader Chicago LGBTQ community. I also in general just highly recommend making friends outside of Booth and getting connected with the broader Chicago community should you come to Booth, there’s so much happening here! Some other things I know that are available that friends are a part of: organized LGBTQ book clubs, dodgeball, kickball, volunteering at the Center. Hope this helps!
Guest: Hello! Anyone can answer this question: What, in your opinion, does Booth offer that is unique in its approach to creating an environment that encourages people to embrace differences in cultures?
* Lily Orlin: I’m not 100% sure how unique these things are to Booth, but some of things I think the school does that are helpful include: a “Diversity Week” put on by the student government, with support from affinity groups and religious student groups that showcase different cultures and include social events and educational events (including an Ally training by McKinsey); the fact that the student government executive board includes a VP of Diversity as one of the six chairs; the plethora of events put on by the different student groups on campus; the fact that admissions has Sena as the head of Diversity OUTreach in admissions.
Guest: Hi, thanks for this chat. How does a student usually go around starting a new initiative/club/club activity? How easily can one bring together a team / school mgmt. — do they get time from academic schedule to participate in something new?
* Sena Agawu: There are multiple avenues through our Graduate Business Council, as well as through our Student Life Office to try and implement new initiatives and groups. There is a process to starting new groups that happens annually at the end of the academic year.
Guest: This question is for Seun - How exactly does the AAMBAA help Boothies in terms of integration into the school, networking etc.
* Seun Akinboboye: AAMBAA is not just a club on campus, it is a community for current students and alumni to support one another. AAMBAA takes an active role in integrating its members into the Booth community and creating a venue for allies and the broader Booth community to experience the richness of African American culture. Before students even arrive on campus, AAMBAA members take an inventory of the career interests of incoming students and help these student to navigate their recruitment processes. Our 34th annual DuSable Conference is on April 4th from 8:30am – 6:00pm at the Harper Center and will bring together students and alumni to discuss opportunities for economic empowerment within our communities. This past Tuesday we held a Booth Voices event in recognition of Black History Month. At this event, we heard personal stories from our classmates that brought us closer together. We also recently hosted a jammie jam party, attended a bar in their onesies.
Guest: For the group: what have been your favorite extracurricular & affinity club activities at Booth?
* Vincent Ho: OUTreach hosts an annual amateur drag party called Pink Party. Different student groups will get in drag and perform numbers and we raise money for a local LGBTQ non-profit. Last year we had Follies, Ski Club, Rugby Club, AudioBooth, and Wine Club perform. It was a lot of fun and got the broader Booth community out of the Loop and up into Boystown.
AAMBA had a pyjama party that was out at a bar that was very well attended and a lot of fun. Also got a lot of people not in the affinity group to better connect with members of the community.
In general I would say each group has some bigger flagship social events throughout the year, as well as larger conference/ educational events that are great for networking and personal/ professional development.
Guest: How do you recommend a prospective candidate get a feel for the Booth without being easily able to visit (they live in the London)? Are there many online options? If yes, are they a good representation of the program and campus?
* Sena Agawu: Participating in chats like this is a great way to get a feel for the culture of Booth. Additionally, keep an eye on our travel schedule as we travel internationally offering prospective students information sessions (including London).
Guest: Hi! Thank you so much for hosting this as I am unable to visit the campus at this time, but I would like to get a feel for the community at Booth. Can any of the current students speak to what sets Booth apart from other schools in terms of a diverse student body?
* Jose Guerra: I really can’t speak for other schools, but I can tell you that a lot of care is put in making sure that our class is diverse across industries, nationalities, experiences and backgrounds. The student clubs have events that open cultures to all Booth students; for example, I am part of the Middle Eastern North African (MENA) club even though I do not have a background that identifies with the club. However, attending their events has been a highlight of my experience here because it has given me a window to such an amazing culture and group of students in their home turf. Additionally, Booth has the office of Diversity Affairs, which’s full-time job is to support diversity initiatives and students here at Booth.
Guest: Hi, thank you all for doing this! I'm an active military pilot with the Indian Air Force, and Booth seems a good fit from my research thus far. Would it be possible for any of you to speak to the experiences you've had as an international student from a non-traditional industry?
* Vincent Ho: Hi! Thanks for your question. Just as an FYI, I’m an international student but I’m from a traditional background, so won’t really be able to speak to the non-traditional background aspect.
As an international student, I would say that Booth is extremely supportive in terms of providing information and guidance around visa issues (OPT, CPT, etc). The Career Center is also very helpful with recruiting support and guidance for international students. There is a lot of opportunity on campus for students to recruit for companies in the US that will sponsor visas post-graduation.
Overall I would say that Booth has a ton of resources to support international students and to date I’ve always felt supported and have known exactly where to go whenever I’ve had questions/ concerns. Also, the student clubs for international students from various parts of the world act as an intermediary resource where, in addition to connections to established resources, you will get to learn from the experiences of the 2Ys in the cla
Guest: Thank you very much for this chat. Was there anything that surprised you about the inclusion at Booth that you didn't anticipate before you arrived?
* Lily Orlin: Some of this may be jaded by my past experiences, but I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion at Booth. Based on the headline diversity statistics of the top business schools, I came in with relatively low expectations surrounding inclusion at Booth. While I think the school still has a lot of work to do in certain areas, it is clear that they are dedicated to improving and have devoted funds and resources to do so. Maria Corbet, who is the advisor for all of the affinity groups and the Director of Diversity & Inclusion, is a tremendous advocate. She is a valuable resource who supports the clubs and does everything in her power to empower us to put on events and expand diversity initiatives at Booth.
Guest: What sort of support does the club give members going through recruiting and the whole process of securing a work visa post MBA?
* Sena Agawu: Since the club is comprised of students, they would not be responsible for assisting students with the visa process. The Career Services office works with students who are recruiting for post-MBA positions, and take into account whether a visa is needed.
Guest: What specifically is booth looking for in MBA candidates in terms of their application essays?
* Sena Agawu: While we don't require people to provide us with a specific set of responses - applicants often highlight their professional experiences, as well as outline their short term and long term goals, in addition to explaining why they're interested in Booth specifically.
Guest: I'm applying for the Booth Scholars Program and am going to attend the upcoming Diversity Campus Visit on February 28th. Who can I contact to ensure I can learn more about the Booth Scholars Program during this event?
* Sena Agawu: We suggest that you connect with either John Lim or Alex DeCamp while on campus - they specifically work with the Chicago Booth Scholars Program
Guest: Hi! Thank you all for your time. When you host your events, how much participation do you get from non-members? I remember during my undergrad it was mostly other international students or cultural groups attending each other’s programs and not the wider campus community. Is this the same at Booth?
* Seun Akinboboye: Members of the Booth community self-select into all Booth activities, including those sponsored by the African American MBA Association (AAMBAA). AAMBAA events are open to all students irrespective of race, color creed or religion. AAMBAA has a number of allies (members from non-diverse communities) and attendees (that are not members) from non-diverse backgrounds. Nevertheless, the spirit of AAMBAA is to have an influential voice on the Booth community and to continue to expose an elite university to the richness of the culture within the African diaspora.
Guest: Do you have any meet and greet scheduled for Africa, specifically Ghana/Nigeria?
* Sena Agawu: Please keep an eye out for our scheduled travel on our events website - Booth is planning to visit a few African countries in the summer, however the locations and dates have yet to be released.
Guest: How do the groups raise funds for their various programs? Do members pay dues? Does the school allocate funds for programming and if Booth does allocate funds, how are they distributed?
* Jose Guerra: Hi, one of the ways in which groups raise funds is through sponsorships from companies outside of Booth. Some groups do charge membership dues and the dues vary depending on the group. OUTReach, for example has no membership dues. AAMBAA and HABSA have a joint membership option. Each group decides their dues policy on their own. Booth also allocates funds to the groups and they are distributed to the groups based on the groups applying for the funds through GBC.
Guest: Can you touch on the rigor of the Booth coursework and specifically some of the technical skills you have developed at Booth?
* Vincent Ho: I’ll preface this by saying that I did my undergrad at the University of Toronto, studying accounting, finance, and economics. With this background, I still found that there is the potential for the coursework at Booth to be academically very rigorous. That being said, the flexible curriculum and grade non-disclosure really make Booth a safe place to learn. The flexible curriculum let’s you prioritize your learning and either lean in/ out of the rigor based on what your personal goals are during the MBA (i.e. starting your own venture, recruiting, academics, etc). The grade non-disclosure let’s you take potentially very challenging courses based on your background without the fear of not doing the greatest. The MBA is all about learning and growing, and I think Booth’s academics and program set-up make it the best place for development.
Guest: I will be a bit older than the average Booth student by the time I am ready to enroll (33). How supportive/inclusive is the Booth community of older students? Will I feel out place among younger classmates?
* Seun Akinboboye: We have a number of students here at Booth that are close to your age. My roommates and I are over thirty years old, and I have not once heard them express negative feelings about how they are received by their peers. Although this is anecdotal evidence, I feel that students are primarily interested in getting to know their classmates, and don’t care much about how old students are.
Guest: Could you give a general overview of the sort of networking events the AAMBAA is involved in?
* Seun Akinboboye: The networking programming here at Booth is extensive across career interests. Generally, diversity recruitment is a component of Booth on-campus recruitment programming. However, many of the most highly sought after companies engage AAMBAA (African American MBA Association) and other diversity oriented clubs on campus to network with its members during our “diversity networking night” and in other venues. In addition, the diversity community is engaged in programs such as MLT Professional Development, Toigo and Jump Start for diversity oriented networking as well.
Guest: I'm curious about diverse experiences after Booth. How engaged are the alumni affinity groups in terms of networking and mentoring opportunities for current students?
* Jose Guerra: The Booth pay it forward culture is strong and it comes across with Alumni. It is easy to reach out to diverse alumni and get their input on your questions etc. Additionally, there are three specific formal functions that give us a chance to engage with and keep alumni involved. One is the Fogel Dinner, which happens every year during the fall and is organized by the Office of Diversity Affairs. The other is coming up and people can sign up to attend it – The annual DuSable Conference, which is organized by AAMBAA and is scheduled for this April 4th from 8am to 6pm. The third is the HABSA Capstone dinner during which HABSA alumni share dinner and drinks with current HABSA students.
Guest: How are the student body leaders elected?
* Lily Orlin: Every year in February first year students put together an executive board slate of six people including: President, Executive VP, VP of Professional Development, VP of Diversity & Inclusion, VP of Global Affairs, VP of Student Affairs. These slates then have a week to campaign to the student body and make their case as to why they should be the next GBC executive board. At the end of campaign week, the entire student body (first years and second years), as well as PhD students, vote on their favorite slate and the one with the most votes wins!
Guest: Thank you for your reply Vincent; it’s reassuring to learn that Booth is supportive around Visa issues. Could you elaborate on how quickly, and more importantly how comfortably did you fit in with your peers since majority of them must be US nationals?
* Vincent Ho: I will say that I’m Canadian—grew up in Toronto—so I didn’t really have any trouble fitting in at Booth and in Chicago. That being said, there is the Booth South Asia Business Group that a lot of international students from this part of the world join. A lot of international students will join these student groups and they act as a great way to find community when you first come to Booth. I wouldn’t worry too much about finding community at Booth though, the people here are great ð
Guest: Has anyone sat in Eugene Fama's class? And how was it?
* Jose Guerra: None of us here today have sat in on Eugene Fama’s class but we have seen him speak at Booth events. Mr. Fama’s class is notoriously rigorous. Mostly PhD students take it. It is a challenge that a true Boothie would enjoy.
Guest: Do students balance their MBA with part time work? Or does the coursework and schedule take up the majority of your time?
* Jose Guerra: Some students do take in-semester internships during the quarter. The choice is really up to the students and our goals. It is a big advantage of being in the city of Chicago and of having the flexible curriculum to work with because we can choose to schedule our classes for only certain days of the week and we have access to the part time and weekend MBA class schedule.
Guest: Are there any memorable ally ship moments during your time at Chicago Booth?
* Lily Orlin: Every fall OUTreach, as part of “Coming Out Day,” hosts an event for the entire student body highlighting members’ Coming Out Stories. Both years I’ve found this event extremely powerful and intimate. There was no shortage of tears as members shared their stories with the audience of students (many of whom were straight allies). Not only were the stories powerful, but they also opened the doors to an honest discussion afterwards about what it means to be an ally to someone going through the coming out process, and/or thinking about coming out.
Guest: I read a lot about the data-driven approach to the curriculum, could you give an example of how you witnessed that?
* Seun Akinboboye: I experience this in each and every class that I take. Our professors are leaders in their field and support their assertions with data. I found this aspect of the curriculum appealing in light of the pervasiveness of data across a series of disciplines. However, we also learn the foundational underpinnings of our coursework as well.
Guest: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. Can anyone share some experience about the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovations? Does the school offer program to study various initiatives during the winter quarter?
* Sena Agawu: Unfortunately, none of our presenters personally have experience working with the Rustandy Center - however, the center offers opportunities for students to engage with them throughout the year, including the winter quarter.
Guest: Thank you for providing your perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion at Booth. What aspects of Diversity and Inclusion do you see as opportunity areas for Booth? Said another way - if you had the power to change things at Booth to improve Diversity and Inclusion, what would you change and why?
* Sena Agawu: If I were to improve something about D&I at Booth it would be to continue to encourage those who may not belong to certain populations to feel comfortable and welcome attending events that they may not think are "for" them.
Guest: Does the Afro-Caribbean community exist at Booth?
* Sena Agawu: While are a few students who identify as such, they are not the majority of the students who identify as Black or African American
Guest: is there a way to know which professors are attached to certain MBA concentrations, say finance?
* Lily Orlin: You can search through the department faculty on Booth’s website and look at the Finance faculty. Each faculty member’s page will also include the courses they are teaching this year.