Looking back on Diversity Weekend 2016– Ben Strickhouser

A perspective on diversity weekend 2016, from class of 2019 MBA candidate Ben Strickhouser:

 

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Diversity Weekend because of my military service in the U.S. Navy. Diversity Weekend was my first visit to Tepper. At this point in my MBA search I had already visited all the other schools that I applied to. I know it sounds cliché, but I ended up saving the best for last.

Before any official Diversity Weekend events even started I completed my interview on Friday afternoon. Immediately following my interview, I attended the weekly social event b**rs. This lead into the weekend is where students meet in the Tepper courtyard and share stories, food, and libations. There was no shortage of students who were willing to talk to me about Tepper and about what I was looking for in an MBA program.

From b**rs, all the prospective students were invited to a local watering hole in the home neighborhood of most Tepper students, Shadyside. While attendance at this after party was completely optional, I was glad I came because it gave me a chance to talk with even more students in a candid atmosphere. It was also fun to see people I had just met belting out some karaoke songs and I even managed to get up on stage and do one of my own (and they still let me in).

The official Diversity Weekend kicked off with a welcome from the head of the MBA program. The rest of the day was filled with great information from the director of admissions, a Tepper professor, the executive director of the Career Opportunities Center and the Accelerate Leadership Center. Probably the most interesting part of the day was when we had breaks. Each break between official speakers was sponsored by the different diversity clubs at Tepper, including the Black and Latin American Business Associations, Tepper Women in Business, Out and Allied, and the Military Veterans Association. These clubs gave us insight into what their mission is but also answered questions about what it was like to be a diversity student at Tepper.

Saturday evening we were treated to a dinner at the hotel everyone was staying at where we heard a great speech from a Tepper alum who was currently working in the White House. Again, this was an awesome opportunity to talk with current students and get all my questions answered.

After some much-needed coffee and breakfast we had one of the most informative sessions of the weekend when we got application tips from the director of admissions. I had already submitted my application, but this was no doubt extremely helpful for 2nd and 3rd round applicants. We also heard from the financial aid office on ways to fund our MBA. The final event was an alumni panel with a highly diverse group of recent grads. It was really interesting to hear about their struggles and successes connected with diversity and how Tepper prepared them for their careers.

The biggest thing I took out of my time at Diversity Weekend is that not only does Tepper itself accept and seek diversity, but the student body sees the immense value in it. The small class size of Tepper no doubt adds to the feeling that everyone is working as a team, and from what I saw everyone recognized that diverse backgrounds and thoughts would always strengthen that team. Now as a student, I can say that this is absolutely the case. The degree to which my classmates care about me and my success is just as strong as it was in my undergrad at a military academy. Above rankings, award-winning faculty, or analytics, I chose Tepper because everyone here is valued for who they are.

Mark Haakenstad | MBA 2019
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