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Santi’s interest in pivoting careers is what ultimately led him to get his MBA. As a Boothie, Santi shines light on what his experience has been like academically, professionally, and personally.

Tell us about yourself and take us along your journey to Chicago Booth

I was born in Colombia and moved around a bit for my dad's job before coming to the United States during my teenage years. I attended Georgia Tech for undergrad and have a background in engineering. Upon graduation, I worked for a tech company in Atlanta for three and a half years. This role focused on tech functions for supply chain solutions and I specifically worked with clients to implement products within the warehouse technology space. Once I began holding more leadership positions focused on product and people management, I decided it was time to change industries. I felt leveraging an MBA would be the best way to help me grow as a leader and pivot to a more business focused role, which ultimately led me to apply at Chicago Booth. 

Why did you choose Chicago Booth?

As someone who’s become accustomed to living in big cities, I wanted to take the chance to live in another big city during my MBA experience. Chicago is such a beautiful city with diverse culture—living in Chicago has always been appealing to me. After hearing more about how many Boothies live downtown in close proximity to one another, I thought it would be a very awesome setup for me to embark on for the next two years.

Aside from the city itself, I ultimately decided on Chicago Booth because of the people and Booth’s “pay-it-forward culture.” When I got admitted to Booth, there were so many students who reached out to me during that time to congratulate me. Boothies really made themselves available to answer any questions I had about the school, program, and personal interests. Seeing the amount of outreach and support I received from students helped me make an educated decision.

I applied during the 2020 application cycle, so everything was virtual. Nonetheless, I really wanted to visit Chicago and actually see the campus, what the commute would look like, and places to possibly live. I reached out to a couple of students, hoping to schedule time for a coffee chat and the Boothies I contacted went above and beyond. They essentially made an admit weekend for me and a friend of mine who also got admitted to Booth. Boothies prepared everything for us from dinners to apartment tours. The experience was incredible! I reached out for a quick coffee chat and ended up experiencing an eventful weekend that confirmed for me that Booth was where I belonged.

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What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 

To me, National Hispanic Heritage Month is an intentional way of promoting and celebrating Hispanic culture. As the Hispanic and Latinx community continues to grow in the United States, it’s nice to be able to celebrate and share our culture with people who aren’t as familiar on campus and across the city.

What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 
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What has your heritage taught you?  How do you remain connected to your heritage?

My heritage has taught me the importance of being kind and welcoming to others. The intentionality behind supporting other people and making sure they feel welcomed are virtues that I saw a lot of growing up. With that being said, keeping those positive virtues in mind when working in business has allowed me to remain connected to my heritage.

What has your heritage taught you?  How do you remain connected to your heritage?
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How are you planning to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month? 

HABSA is planning an event for National Hispanic Heritage Month! We plan on renting out a restaurant space to provide attendees with Hispanic food and music as we celebrate with other students within the Booth community. As for celebrating personally, I make an effort to eat Hispanic food or connect with the community here in Chicago every week. 

Being in Chicago during this time has been a great experience. From being around tons of people who speak my native language, to always having delicious authentic cuisine options to choose from, Chicago is filled with things to do to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.

How are you planning to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month? 

"I'd describe my Booth experience thus far as extremely supportive – HABSA has been an incredibly supportive group on campus. From a professional and personal standpoint, you form meaningful relationships with people during your MBA experience."

— Santi Acosta Lievano

How has your involvement in the Hispanic American Business Student Association (HABSA) contributed to the connections you’ve made during your time at Chicago Booth?

The HABSA community has always been readily available to support one another. The relationships formed within HABSA are truly authentic and meaningful. Knowing that we are a minority group on campus with members who have likely gone through similar experiences allows us to form tight-knit bonds with one another.

HABSA has everything from social events to helping out with recruiting programs. For instance, when I first moved to Chicago I was in need of somewhere to interview and many HABSA members were kind enough to let me use their living space to interview. The HABSA community also has a WhatsApp chat that constantly promotes community building at Booth even before arriving on campus. We also host a Capstone dinner every year to bring alumni and current students together—this dinner is our signature event of the year.

Overall, my experience within HABSA has been amazing as the organization continues to provide students with a sense of community that you can always rely on at Booth.

What’s your favorite / most memorable event that you’ve attended within the Hispanic American Business Student Association?

HABSA plans a weekend retreat every year to welcome incoming students to Booth. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience as it gave me insight to leadership opportunities available, along with how to navigate academics, recruiting, and my social and personal life while being in a rigorous program. The retreat encompassed a great combination of informative and social events—truly was an awesome way to kick-start my experience at Booth and I met so many wonderful people.