IRL: Building Community within a Community

Catherine Frances Napier, Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier, Class of 2018

In Professor Linda Ginzel’s Negotiations class, students who contribute receive a coveted and unique Booth luggage tag that isn’t found anywhere else.

“The luggage tag became a symbol of reciprocity – we’re in this together, we’re all learning from each other,” Professor Linda Ginzel shares. “I am one component in the classroom. The students are the other component that build this community and learn from each other.”

This inspired two students (now alumni) – Wilson Sun and Ryan Bormet – to take these community-building lessons to heart. One year after their Fall 2015 Negotiations class, Wilson asked Professor Ginzel to host a class reunion. As Professor Ginzel will tell you, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”

Thanks to Wilson, Ryan, and Linda, 13 part-time students met for a class reunion on a weekday (“…which for working students, reflects a special level of commitment,” adds Ryan), including one student who had even graduated and returned to Gleacher for the reunion.

“I’ve been teaching here for 25 years. No one has ever asked me to do a reunion lunch. I was so honored to do this,” Professor Ginzel says.

Ryan, Wilson, and Linda’s students were honored to contribute to building the community in real life, inspired by Linda’s teachings. Even one year after the reunion, both Ryan and Wilson speak of the class and the reunion with such emphatic enthusiasm (while also making themselves available at 9:30pm on a weekday to share about it). Plus – they remember every detail of their 2015 negotiations two years later: who was Pluto, which negotiator to avoid in the class’ wedding march (partner pair up), who sat next to whom, all the laughs, and who became best friends.

Former Negotiations students join Linda Ginzel for a reunion. Photo courtesy of Catherine Napier.

Former Negotiations students join Linda Ginzel for a reunion. Photo courtesy of Catherine Napier.

In real life, these gracious students chose to build community, modeled after Linda’s example. Wilson and Ryan gave their community their own luggage tag of sorts.

The class not only enjoyed themselves so much they had a reunion, (have you ever had a specific class meet for a reunion?) – but Wilson also credits the class with changing his life. Wilson adds, “You feel very happy because you’re doing something [by building community] that people find very valuable.”

To Linda, building community is the highest reflection of a leader. These two students embraced what they learned in the classroom to build community beyond the classroom. (And you can still find the strong community these students helped build – through the multiple clubs they were apart of – including LAUNCH mentorship roles, and more.) Both Ryan and Wilson applied Linda’s community teachings to their lives and to the Booth community at large.

“If I can help you translate knowledge into action and move everyone in a more productive environment outside my classroom, that’s when I am going to really make a difference. It’s what you do outside my classroom. I have to make it memorable. I have to make it stick,” Linda says.

And stick it does.

Whether you are alumni in Helsinki recognizing each other’s luggage tags, catching up with a graduate at the Management Conference, or you’re reading this article, you know the inspirations found in Linda’s class will stay with you and take you anywhere, like your luggage tag.