Coronavirus Updates

Shaun Walker

SAC Cohort Chair, Built@Booth Co-chair
Vice President of Growth at SpellBound, Venture Associate at M25

Everybody talks about how going to business school is valuable for building relationships. And it no doubt is. But it's only half the story. I often wonder where we will each be in ten years, professionally and physically. There's an unknown aspect to where we're all headed, which I find very exciting because I just can't wait to see what everyone becomes “when they grow up.” After Booth, many of us may not be near each other. But so long as strong bonds are established during our time at Booth, they can persist into the future no matter where we end up.

I launched two summers ago in 2018. My LAUNCH cohort is tight-knit. We've made it a point to get together regularly and to establish close relationships. Even now, during COVID, we've had virtual hangouts to keep in touch. I value the closeness of our cohort and even my wife has made friends with the spouses of my LAUNCH group friends. 

As with all summer cohorts, my LAUNCH group is smaller, which I love. It was easy to get to know everyone. As I started to build relationships with people in other cohorts, I saw that the same organic relationship development was a little less consistent among larger LAUNCH groups. I realized there was an opportunity to do some more community building. 

So at the beginning of 2019, I had conversations with a diverse set of 30 students to get feedback about their Booth experience. Many people mentioned LAUNCH specifically and said it would be great to continue to do more together as a group after that first weekend. Conveniently, at the same time, the Student Life team was working on the Life after LAUNCH initiative. All of a sudden, it seemed like a confluence of people emerged who were interested in building something that would help new students transition from LAUNCH to regular student-life. A big focus of this centered on how to support cohesion development among cohorts.

There already was a LAUNCH coordinator on the SAC board, so I helped SAC think about how to integrate with the Life after LAUNCH program at large. As a component, I drafted and pitched the Cohort Chair concept to SAC. The board created the role, and I was fortunate to be elected as the first Cohort Chair in 2019, (there were some great other candidates!).

As Cohort Chair, my time is spent engaging with each cohort and serving as a liaison between the Student Life team and the student body. I recruit students from each new incoming LAUNCH group and help them form a committee to focus on ways for their group to feel more engaged as a community, which is proving especially important now. I help the committee take ownership of their cohort planning and engage with them for the first year. Hopefully, this helps them develop comfort and habits, and their LAUNCH group becomes more connected as time goes on.

The most recent group of new students began their Booth journeys in the Spring of 2020. They had hardly had the opportunity to meet each other before COVID-induced travel and gathering restrictions were introduced. But, the committee has been incredible. They have banded together to do as much as they can virtually until things return to normal. It's inspiring to watch. I am a fortunate observer of all of these Boothies, elevating their peers' needs in such ways. 

All of this goes back to one of the things I love about Booth, which is flexibility. You have this awesome community around you. You can take a very active role in developing, forming, and maintaining these relationships. We've had a full year of observational data and are making improvements to the Cohort Chairrole. My hope is this effort continues to give back to the community long after I leave. 

I am an Eagle Scout, and one scouting principle that has remained with me for all of these years is the idea that we should always leave things better than we find them. Keeping with that philosophy, whether it's my career, volunteer work, or my time at Booth, I always look for ways to help or give back. I am very bullish about the investment of effort and energy Booth is putting into the culture and community. I am excited to continue moving forward in this new direction.

Learn more about LAUNCH and Leadership Development at Booth

Shaun Walker

Evening MBA Student

Shaun Walker