Tuck TAABA Ski Weekend – Smugglers Notch

I haven’t been this excited about a weekend, let alone a sport that I stink at (skiing), in a while!

For the past few years the African Ancestry Business Association at Tuck (TAABA) has hosted a ski weekend for graduate students across the country in our (relative) backyard of Northern Vermont. This year we’re going to Smuggler’s Notch for a weekend of skiing, fellowship and lots of ‘ratchet’ rap music. If you don’t know what ratchet means check urban dictionary or just YouTube it. We have lots of special activities planned for our colleagues across the grad school landscape. So far we have several schools represented, including Harvard, U.Penn, Cornell, Northwestern, NYU, Yale, Columbia and several others (forgive me if your school isn’t listed).

In addition to the activities this weekend I’m really looking forward to catching up with other friends across the MBA matrix. I’ve got a lot of friends at Cornell, NYU and Michigan specifically that I cannot wait to exchange war stories with about school, recruiting, (their) dating travails and other juicy tidbits. Being at Tuck, and I assume the same is true at Cornell and Yale, you start to get over-bubblized and forget that there is a world outside of your cozy cavern of comfort in the middle-of-nowhere. I actually vividly remember the first time I went down for a recruiting trip to New York in October I was so disoriented. All of the cars, waiting for signals to actually cross the street, tall buildings and people wearing suits all the time. My mind was absolutely blown, that after only a month of living in Hanover all of hustle-and-bustle of big city life I’d grown up with as a kid in Detroit was all of a sudden my arch-enemy. I digress.

Other Good News

So aside from the TAABA ski weekend I’m also geeked about some other great news I received this week. Two other Tuckies and I will be co-Chairing TAABA for 2013-2014! I view it as a great honor and privilege to be furthering the diversity and inclusion mission at Tuck and continuing to foster a sense of identity and ownership over the direction of our school. Additionally, the two other co-Chairs are as enthusiastic about the direction we’re moving towards and the potential impact we’re going to make for future generations to come. So while this weekend is all about fellowship it’s also a mini celebration of big things to come!

On The Note of Diversity

Something myself and a lot of my colleagues, both from underrepresented and non-underrepresented backgrounds have been talking about a lot recently is the concept of “inclusion”. We don’t need to go on about how diversity and inclusion is essential for a well-rounded educational experience–we can all agree on that. But the more challenging part that I’ve been perplexed by is, “How do we actively blend multiple worlds?” It’s a very high-level theoretical question so let me try to explain. In many affinity groups I’ve participated in, where there is a predominant affiliation, the focus has been on preserving cultural identity and educating others about what’s important to us. I think those are great goals and missions, but I have yet to solve something that I believe is more important. What are we doing to bring ALL parties to the table and rally CONSISTENTLY and CONTINUOUSLY towards creating and maintaining action oriented diversity? And how do we do it?

I don’t have the answer and would love commentary. But what I do know is that I’ve had several conversations with friends who don’t look like me on the outside, but feel the same way on the inside. Two weeks ago, in fact, I had a member of my former study group members say to me, “I think diversity in general across all top business schools is a problem–I want to be a part of changing that. But one thing I don’t think we should ever do is import diversity for the sake of diversity. It doesn’t serve anyone well.” I couldn’t agree with him more. It’s a documented fact I’m a supporter of affirmative action–I’ll continue to be until it’s no longer necessary. What I’ve realized however is that while there are many more good things about AA, one major con is that it marginalizes women and minorities to the point were organic ‘inclusion’ becomes more difficult.

My biggest goal as TAABA co-Chair for this year and next is to do more than just have a conversation about breaking down these inclusion barriers. And probably too ambitiously, develop a tangible model of organic inclusion and a shared burden of promoting diversity on a consistent basis here at Tuck and as an example for other institutions to follow. I know it’s been said before–but I’m one of these people who believes in dreaming big and doing everything in your power to fill those dreams.

I welcome your feedback and comments.

And for all of you out there joining Tuck at the TAABA Ski Trip this weekend–Let’s Get It In!


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