Being Antoinette “TNDC” King

Antoinette King, Class of 2017

Antoinette King, Class of 2017

As few of you know, I will be co-hosting the 2Y Celebration with Kevin O’Keefe this Saturday. When the planning committee asked me to participate, they said something to the effect of “A couple of us nominated you…because everybody knows you…and we thought you’d do a great job.” Although incredibly honored, one thing struck me as odd. “…everybody knows you.”

Hearing this took me back to first year orientation when the entire class was gathered inside Rockefeller Chapel. I was one of a handful of people standing for what I now recognize as Dean Kole’s annual shaming of students who did not participate in Random Walk. It was embarrassingly awkward (and no Boothie should ever have to suffer such shame).

Aside from a few people that I got to know through the MBA application process, no one knew me when I first came to Booth. I would actually venture a guess that no one knew me for the entire first quarter. It was evident at large class events where I roamed through the sea of 500+ first years without a friend-group to anchor me. It was also evident in my lack of dinner party invitations, absence from splinter GroupMe chats and exclusion from inside jokes. I mean, what was so funny about a White Russian anyway?

Most Thursdays, despite rarely making it onto anyone’s Uber list, I would resist the to urge to binge-watch (insert old SciFi or cheesy procedural drama here) and head out to TNDC. I wasn’t motivated by a desire to get to know more people. After all who expects to get to know anyone in a loud, dimly lit bar while slipping into a frosty beverage-fueled haze? No one! Yet I found myself creating memories that would build new friendships, strengthen existing ones and profoundly impact my Booth experience.

 

I remember dancing with Ale at 3 TNDCs before we learned each other’s names. Weeks later we sat together outside of a classroom as she talked through her business concept for Ezza Nails. I also remember running into Rachel at the first TNDC of 2016 and spending the next few months laughing, about everything and nothing, in the Winter Garden. Reconnecting with Alyse under the blue lights at Tunnel. Caribbean dancing with Garaudy. Andrew fluffing my hair. Crushing on the awesomeness of Booth with Tina. Cheering on Baird in THE most epic dance battle! Hugging Dheeraj. Chest-bumping Valentina. And listening to Kyle’s fake southern accent.


Every time I speak to someone about Booth they note my enthusiasm for the place and the people. That’s because it’s been an incredible ride, undoubtedly made richer by every TNDC memory that managed to survive. To everyone who has contributed to this experience, I thank you for the sweaty dances we shared. Thank you for joining in as I jumped around screaming lyrics. Thank you for that heart-to-heart, that hug, that Rock-n-Roll McDonalds run. Thank you for making Booth home.


Antoinette King, aka AK, is an avid napper who loves her some Kristina Black.

My Second "Useless" Degree in Theater

Davis Yang, Class of 2017

“Oh my god, I know what you’re going to ask about, ahhhh, don't do it!” she said, laughing and squirming in her seat.

Her big, distinctively beautiful eyes widened and then looked downward and slightly to the side in her playful embarrassment.

“You texted me that you’re excited you recently met someone you really like and –“

“Oh my god, stop!”

“And you thought he’s new, and kind, and bright – who is it?”

“Aaaaaah”

“Is it me?!”

“Yes!  Ah this is so embarrassing!”

She was impossibly beautiful, and I felt like a king sitting across from her, getting to see her as much as I wanted.  I was enjoying her new look – modern going-out clothes – after having only previously seen her for weeks in 1930s style long dress and 1930s hair.  We had met on the movie set of “The White Countess,” set in the 30s, when I saw her smoking in the scene and went and told her that that’s bad.

I continued, “But you said, ‘He’s ambitious and knows what he wants in life.’  Why do you say that?  I don’t have any idea what I want or what I’m doing with my life!”

I was just out of college, having graduated with a degree in Theater Studies.  The only other guy getting a theater degree also double majored in something actually employable.  Everyone looked at me with a kind of pity and befuddlement like I was a self-destructive homeless person, and asked, “What are you going to do after school?”

My parents, who had spent a fortune putting me through Yale, only to have me do very badly and end up graduating with the most ungodly degree in the Asian parents’ lexicon, needed a whole new word for their level of disappointment.  Especially when they met all my star-studded classmates going off to McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, law school, and med school.  What I was going to do after school was go live with my parents – and that was in ’04, before the Financial Crisis made going home somewhat normal.

So there I was, a total disappointment to everyone around me, to my parents, and to my past, high-achieving self.

And to ruin my little romantic story, I asked her to pay for dinner, because I had only enough cash to get a taxi back home.  It’s all I had after trying to save up by skipping a couple meals a day.  I had only gotten a soup, and I’d hoped she’d order something cheap as well.

That was the last time I saw her.  I was too ashamed of making her pay for dinner to re-connect with her afterwards.

I wondered about her many years later, after I had returned to Shanghai.  I was Managing Director at our PE/VC fund, went to fashion shows, was invited to black tie openings and galas, hung with the cool kids who ran the cool clubs and parties, and vacationed by paragliding and scuba diving off white sand beaches.  Mostly, I wondered if I had finally become the person she once thought I was, smart, ambitious, successful, cruising with the top down in life’s fast lane.  I also kept wishing I could buy her dinner.

But I can’t think so much about that now, because now would be a bad time for her to see me again, because I’m about to graduate with my second useless degree in “theater,” and again not knowing what I really want in life, and again being broke!

But this time I don’t leave school ashamed and with head bowed.  I’m proud of my MBA, my “second useless degree in theater,” as I am now proud of my first one.  That one launched me into a journey through show business in China, working in New York and training as a dancer there, and then being part of the business scene during Shanghai’s new golden age, and on to my greatest adventure yet: Booth.

Of course, I say “useless degree” sarcastically, mocking the idea that MBAs don’t learn anything real in school.  The degree is largely as “useless” as my BA in Theater Studies, which is to say, not useless at all.

Business school makes us smarter, better people by teaching us to see information passing through the nebulous cloud of life, and then organize it, interpret it, and if we choose, improve the world with it.  This is the gift of having an active mind, and with it we experience the fullness of life on Earth.  The “usefulness” of the degree is that it is the start of a new, incredible adventure.

I leave Booth, recognizing new sides of myself: That I have the ability to excel in intellectual, conceptual learning, something I had failed in and thought I would never be good at.  I now have confidence that I have scaled those mountains and can climb more.

So my new adventure began with these 2 years at Booth.  May it be more colorful than the last.  Come, Destiny, give me the stuff of life, the desperately hopeful looks at an empty wallet, the triumphant rooftop champagne toasts, the self-loathing and regrets of not being good enough, the serene stares into sunsets over the ocean, the hungry walks through the city in the rain while trying to keep dry the desperately written manuscript in pocket, the defeat, the gratefulness, the victory, the hope, the love, and whatever adventure begins after that.

“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

- Helen Keller

Thank you, classmates, friends, professors, advisors, supporters, and of course family.

What I Take With Me

Mars GPS, Class of 2017

What will you miss? I have been getting this question a lot lately, and it makes me feel very “Happy Sad”. Happy because I get the opportunity to reflect on what I’ve enjoyed the most, and sad because it’s about to end. I probably won’t miss the winter, but I’ll definitely miss the Winter Garden. I’ll miss taking the Metra in the mornings and finding a lot of familiar faces, I’ll miss the OK sushi from Kovler, and using my student ID to print or to enter the locker room. I’ll miss case preps and mock interviews, I’ll probably even miss crop circles. I’ll miss sharing Ubers with friends and using Venmo as a verb. I’ll miss having the option to explore the amazing UChicago campus any given day. To be honest, I’m afraid I’ll forget how these two amazing years felt, the same way I think I already forgot how it felt when I received “The Call” from Admissions. I’ll miss being an Admissions Fellow, and I’ll miss my beloved OUTreach. I’ll miss being around people with amazing backgrounds and promising futures willing to spend their time playing board games or beach soccer, talking to prospective students, or offering coffee chats for 1Ys. Definitely, what I’ll miss the most, even if it’s the greatest cliché, is the people. The small group of very close friends whom I intend to harass with my friendship forever, but also the not so small group of people who I’ve met briefly, and friends of friends. Mainly because I know it will be harder to keep in touch with them.

 

So rising second years, ask yourselves this question now - what will you miss? Take this opportunity and direct your efforts accordingly towards doing more of what you’ll miss the most next year. Pursue deeper relationships, find new passions, do only what you will remember fondly, and don’t be afraid to say no. Listen more. We all have a lot to say, and not saying anything is harder than finding the perfect words, but sometimes we just need to listen more. Also ask yourselves what is your definition of success, and measure yours towards your own definition, and don’t forget to factor in overall happiness. Smile and be that happy person you would like to find sitting next to you! Hug people more, we never know when they (or you) might need it. Finally, as Cavafy said in Ithaka (recommended poem), ‘life is more about the journey than about the destination’. It’s more about every single moment at Booth than about a diploma, enjoy it!


Mars GPS is a Mexican 2Y, she was one of OUTreach's co-chairs, and an Admissions Fellow during her second year at Booth. She loves animals, music, and food.

 

Master of None

Prem Nagarathnam, Class of 2017

One of my goals coming into Booth was to become business fluent in Chinese. It seemed like a reasonable goal, even as I was on the flight to my IBEP quarter in Shanghai. After all, I could read every other character on the MingHin menu. What did it matter I couldn’t even have a basic conversation about weather? Immersion would fix everything.

It was a reasonable hypothesis, considering that all the other things I’d valued most about my time at Booth had come from diving in deep. The class grade that had felt like the biggest victory? Big Data, after weeks of 20 hour R sessions with my study group. The activity that’d taught me the most? Not coursework, but case prep, going from session to grueling session until frameworks stop feeling like straightjackets. The trips that I’ll remember? Well, all of them, but certainly the first one, showing up at O’Hare with 17 near-strangers crazy enough to sign up for a Mystery Random Walk where we could end up anywhere on Earth. At the outset, all these experiences had felt immense and unclear, but at some point the pieces clicked and the intuitions they imparted sank somewhere deep within.

My immersion in Chinese mostly related to the various cocktails other exchange students and I discovered at speakeasies that even our Shanghainese classmates had never heard of. Still, just being abroad and committing to the program let knowledge seep in. I learned to work with students who came from a different business environment, understand the unique pieces forming the world’s largest economy, and tailor strategic concepts for companies with 100s of millions of users ranging from the rich to 3rd world rural. As for speaking Chinese, my conversations often ended the same way: 听不懂 or TingBuDong. It’s used in conversation to say you don’t understand, but its literal translation is ‘hear but don’t understand.’ There’s a lot I’ve heard in the past two years that went in one ear and out the other, but there’s hardly any situation at Booth where I pushed myself and failed to learn something profound. There’s a ways to go before I’m anywhere near fluent in Chinese, strategy or any other portions of business. But in so many areas, Booth gave me a start – and for that I am very grateful.


Prem will be working in strategy for Samsung in Seoul and sincerely hopes that his role is limited to business strategy and does not turn into a military strategy situation.

B-School as a Couple, or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Booth

Nick Lilovich & Sruti Balakrishnan, Class of 2017

Nick Lilovich & Sruti Balakrishnan, Class of 2017

In early 2014, we made the call to seek our MBAs – together. Deciding to go to business school is already a gamble for most people. For us, it was doubly so – twice the expense, and twice the life and career disruption. We also got twice the level of familial disapproval, though we can’t really blame them. On the surface, our decision seemed crazy – why go from two salaries to negative earnings?

Still, we believed that B-School was a good bet. Sruti had hit a learning and advancement wall at her nonprofit, and she missed the fast pace of the private sector. Nick, despite being a successful engineer, still worried that he wasn’t finding his “best use” in life, and saw business school as a good way to challenge himself and accelerate his career. What’s more, we both felt strongly that it wouldn’t be fair for one person to prioritize their career over the other. We’d entered our marriage as partners, and we were going to stay that way. Our decision made, we applied to five schools in major metropolitan areas, hoping that this would make us more likely to have options in the same city. We then crossed our fingers and hoped like crazy. Somehow, it worked out!

Getting into Booth was incredibly exciting for both of us. That said, while Sruti was a 100% Booth from the beginning, Nick had originally thought about going to Kellogg (heresy, we know). As it happened, all it took was a spectacular First Day to change his tune completely. At the end of that weekend, we both knew that Booth was clearly the choice for both of us.

Attending the same school brought its own set of anxieties, however. Both of us (and Sruti in particular) were worried about being seen as “Nick & Sruti” – a single unit, rather than separate people. While it helped that Sruti had kept her maiden name, we also decided on some ground rules: during our first year, we would never take the same classes, join largely separate student groups, and in general try to keep our student lives as separate as possible.

After all that planning, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Booth community was a LOT bigger than we had initially thought -there was more than enough space for both of us. Sruti’s had a chance to be involved in BoothEd, LEAD, DStAR, and other clubs full of the best people ever (that’s Sruti blatantly editorializing, by the way, not the opinion of ChiBus). Meanwhile, Nick had the chance to live his econ nerd dream by leading Adam Smith and Chicagonomics. Even more, we didn’t realize that there would be such a huge community of couples. Sruti’s Random Walk alone included half of three different Booth couples! [Shout-out to our illustrious GBC president, Elizabeth Gosselin – S.] It’s been so inspiring to see such a variety of talented people supporting each other throughout their Booth careers. These realities eventually helped us to feel comfortable enough to take down some of those firewalls  we had set up – for instance, we started taking some classes together in 2nd year, and Nick roped Sruti into becoming an Adam Smith Society co-chair as well. Even so, we continued to feel that we had the opportunity to learn and succeed at Booth as individuals, not just as “that couple.”

As it happens, we’ve become convinced that there are actually lots of benefits to being a couple at Booth. For one, we both intuitively understand the MBA lifestyle, and don’t mind when it gets in the way of the occasional date night. More fundamentally, we’ve become better equipped to help each other succeed. For instance, Sruti was able to support Nick actively during his consulting recruiting, and vice versa when Sruti was recruiting for tech. This also let us shape the next stage in our careers simultaneously (e.g. choosing a new location together), rather than forcing one person to entirely subordinate their career decisions to the other. As luck would have it, that process led us to join the same company for full-time, McKinsey. [Sruti is a bit annoyed by this, but is comforted by the fact that they’ll never actually be on the same projects. Nick thinks it’s hilarious.]

Sruti & Nick with the Adam Smith Society - Chicago Chapter in New York

Sruti & Nick with the Adam Smith Society - Chicago Chapter in New York

As Nick would say, Booth has been a rebirth; a place for him to be a practical empiricist, and to discover what might be his “best use” – effective management of moral organizations. As Sruti would say, Booth turned out pretty well. [She has a talent for understatement – N.] We are both thankful to Booth for giving us the opportunity to grow together as professionals.

We are excited for the next step in our journey. We will continue to challenge each other (sometimes too much). We will continue to get better. Most of all, we will remain a team: at home, and in the world. Hopefully, we’ll leave it a better place!


Sruti Balakrishnan and Nick Lilovich are both members of the graduating Full Time MBA Class of 2017.

Closing Time: Things I Wish I Knew as a Rising Second Year

Rodolfo Maciel, Class of 2017

Rodolfo Maciel, Class of 2017

Booth is a strange thing. It’s a place for humble (though intense) overachievers, with busy academic and social lives, divided opinions, weird art everywhere; and we all too often have very little time and money to experience it. And no matter how hard you try to brave through this myriad of unfathomed possibilities (nor how hard you try to learn new fancy words, #gointernationals), the feeling is unsettling: it won’t be enough.

Have you ever asked an MBA alumni about their time in business school? They all say the same thing. Best 2 years of my life. I wish I had done more. And as graduation quickly approaches, my very honest confession is that I wish I had done more too. So here are my thoughts for rising second years.

1. You will learn more from the people you hang out with than from slides. Ask personal questions, ask uncomfortable questions, be daring (especially as an international, you can get away with A LOT). Try to host more often. Join more groups. Being part of AudioBooth was the most fun thing I’ve done. And being part of NVC, the most rewarding. Join First Day, Booth Insights, Booth Stories. And in case you didn’t notice yet: TNDCs are much more than shots and missing jackets – but only if you want to.

Boothies practicing for the First Day flashmob in 2016

Boothies practicing for the First Day flashmob in 2016

2. The money thing will be okay. Look, I get the uncertainty. I’m not saying you should be irresponsible. I’m just saying you should be less anxious. We’ll have successful careers and these loans will vanish, but you only have 1 MBA break in your life. Make the most out of it. I’m also not saying you should buy a boat: one of the best classes I’ve taken at Booth proves with data and research that spending money on and with other people makes you happier. Buy experiences instead! Be your best today, learn a lot, experience a lot, and let your improved future self (and your Booth brand) take care of the rest.

RW Vietnam 2016, which I had the pleasure to lead

RW Vietnam 2016, which I had the pleasure to lead

3. School spirit brings people together. Perhaps my biggest regret was to not have joined more Booth sports events (I wish I was there for when we tackled some purple @sses on rugby!). Booth had a great year and we should be proud! It brings us together. As a performer in Battle of the Bands, seeing my friends supporting me in the audience more than compensated for the fact we didn’t win. These things strengthen the community we love to brag about – so keep participating! Support Booth. It’s fun, extremely important, and rewarding!

Boothies bringing the house down at the Battle of the Bands 2017!

Boothies bringing the house down at the Battle of the Bands 2017!

It’s time to go. I will face it as the new beginning that comes from some other beginning’s end. My pledge is to live by the 3 themes above and you can call me out if I don’t, even after graduation. Always feel free to reach out to any of us graduating Boothies in the future. We want you to, because deep inside we really don’t want to go.  Meanwhile, keep making Booth awesome.


Rodolfo is in constant denial of his age, weight, and imminent graduation

A Hundred and Fifty Moments of Happiness

Gloria Zhang, Class of 2017

Gloria Zhang, Class of 2017

A blogger’s thank you

It’s a wonderful way to wrap up my journey in Booth with a blog. I have been a blogger for more than a decade. Blogging is what I love. Blogging is why I am here. My application essay to Booth was a set of three blogs, snapshots of three life changing moments in my life. I flew into Chicago for my on-campus interview, and printed out and read all historical blogs on theboothexp.com on the 15-hour long flight there. The first time I walked into Winter Garden, I ran into the author of my favorite blog. That moment I knew I was meant to be here. If you are reading this, my dear reader, please accept a sincere thank you.

150 Moments: One Good One

During Alumni Reunion weekend, I had a chance to talk to some distinguished alumni from the Class of 1967 who were there for their 50-year reunion (I agree, even this close to graduation, a 50-year reunion is pretty unimaginable). They are hugely successful, generous donors, and definitely mature. I asked one of them, “What do you remember about your time at the GSB?” The gentleman searched in his memory for a long time, and finally, he burst into laughter, “Do you know liquidity of game theory?” “Urr… I guess so…Maybe not…” With a bright smile, he said, “It’s a drinking party on Thursdays.” The original TNDC. He looked so happy. What a moment!

It got me reflect. What you remember, 50 years later, is just great moments.

This conversation is a great example of my Happiness Project. Since my first quarter at Booth, I started to jot down moments that make me wholeheartedly happy; moments that made me conclude “it was a great day” before bedtime. Now, two years have passed by, and I have a list of 150 moments. Some examples:

After analyzing the 150 moments, I realized that 40% of my happiness comes from two categories: Inspiring Conversations, and Pleasant Surprises. This has helped me realize what to look for when I feel distressed. This has also made me feel more comfortable doing things that other people love but usually don’t make me happy, like loud and packed parties on Thursday nights, because I know that there may be a Pleasant Surprise around the corner.

And I finally realize that the precious 150 moments is my ultimate answer to #WhyBooth. I would love to, in our half-century reunion, bring our shared memories back to you, my dear classmates. I look forward to shocking the graduates from the Class of 2067 with my jaw dropping list of memories.

Gloria is a Class of 2017 student who looks forward to sharing her memories over cups of coffee in the Winter Garden. Start a conversation by picking any number between 1 and 150.

Caption 1: #MeAndIsraeliCuisine #BoothRight #OmaAndRikkiByMySide #Pic cred: Ellie Cheong

 

The poem I shared in BoothStories:

A man died...When he realized it, he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand.

Dialog between God and Dead Man:

God: Alright son, it’s time to go

Man: So soon? I had a lot of plans...

God: I am sorry but, it’s time to go

Man: What do you have in that suitcase?

God: Your belongings

Man: My belongings? You mean my things... Clothes... money...

God: Those things were never yours, they belong to the Earth

Man: Is it my memories?

God: No. They belong to Time

Man: Is it my talent?

God: No. They belong to Circumstance

Man: Is it my friends and family?

God: No son. They belong to the Path you travelled

Man: Is it my wife and children?

God: No. they belong to your Heart

Man: Then it must be my body

God: No No... It belongs to Dust

Man: Then surely it must be my Soul!

God: You are sadly mistaken son. Your Soul belongs to me.

Man with tears in his eyes and full of fear took the suitcase from the God's hand and opened it...

Empty...

With heartbroken and tears down his cheek he asks God...

Man: I never owned anything?

God: That’s Right. You never owned anything.

Man: Then? What was mine?

God: your MOMENTS.

Every moment you lived was yours.

Life is just a Moment.

Live it...

Love it...

Enjoy it..

Departing Booth Full of Hope, Optimism and Joy

Before I even came to the University of Chicago, I wondered how I would summarize my eventual two-year journey. How would it begin? What experiences would change me? And most important of all, what plot twists would there be? The answers lay somewhere in a humble recount of my journey.

I came to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business not only because it was my dream school, but also because of what it represented - curious pursuit of the unknown. Here, I experienced moments of passion, different sides in intellectual debate, and interactions with people which helped me to augment my worldview - and perhaps, help construct a wholly new one.

I was privileged to have attended several conferences, to have traveled the world, to have studied abroad, and to have taken courses with some of the brightest minds. From meeting the former coach of my hometown Chicago Bulls at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to scaling the highest mountains of Jammu & Kashmir while I studied abroad at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (as a part of the International Business Exchange Program), my friends from Booth have been with me through it all, in person or in spirit.

Pratik Desai, Class of 2017

Pratik Desai, Class of 2017

Pratik soaking up a critical victory for his hometown favorite Chicago Bulls!

Pratik soaking up a critical victory for his hometown favorite Chicago Bulls!

Pratik with Tom Thibodeau, former head coach of the Chicago Bulls.

Pratik with Tom Thibodeau, former head coach of the Chicago Bulls.

I would be dishonest if I were to minimize my greatest challenges at Booth to just final exams or recruitment interviews. I was challenged much more often than that. I grappled with how to approach business problems, how to approach C-level executive with whom I wanted to network, and how to make the right decision when in a group working through disagreements. Fortunately, I’ve been able to expand the scope of my thinking and abilities in large part because of the support system I had through the people. My friends encouraged me the entire way. It was okay for me to make mistakes, and as always, there was always tomorrow to get up and try again.

So how would I summarize my experience at Booth? After all, parting words are part of the legacy that graduates leave to future classes. Authenticity. What I mean to say is, authentic exchanges defined my experience. From serving as a groomsman at two Booth student weddings, to connecting with entrepreneurs in India, to co-chairing one of the most important student organizations on campus, I have had the opportunity to connect with people from all around the world on a deeply intimate level - and it mattered. In the long run, authentic exchanges will not only strengthen relationships but also the groups and institutions that encourage them. Authentic exchanges have the power to validate someone on a journey of self-discovery, or perhaps even inspire someone to do something great, such as making a career switch or working on a startup. I speak from experience.

Putting his skills from Negotiations class to work, Pratik walks away with a bargain on Kashmiri shawls!

Putting his skills from Negotiations class to work, Pratik walks away with a bargain on Kashmiri shawls!

Pratik Desai enjoying his first, authentic Hyderabadi Biryani while on exchange at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

Pratik Desai enjoying his first, authentic Hyderabadi Biryani while on exchange at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

With my MBA experience almost behind me, I am nostalgic. However, I am fortified by experiences of strengthened character. I am so excited for what the future has in store. I encourage everyone to chase their passions with vigor and to take chances. Go talk to that CEO after a guest lecture or go break bread with someone new. Intern in a new industry or go start a business. I am proud to be a part of the Chicago Booth student community, and I look forward to future exchanges that I will have with its members.


Pratik Desai is a graduating 2Y and the former Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Business. He has a passion for people and a craving for authenticity. When not traveling, writing, playing guitar, or watching basketball, you may find him connecting with someone over a cup of his favorite beverage - chai.

Class Gift 2017: Leaving Our Legacy

Brian Gracia, Class of 2017

Brian Gracia, Class of 2017

You have seen the table in winter garden.  If you’re a second year you have definitely seen our emails, texts and words of encouragement.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen - it is clear that class gift season is upon us.  

Each year the outgoing class at Booth completes a donation drive intended to benefit our future student body.  This spring, we are targeting $125,000 in donations with 95% participation from our outgoing class to fund a legacy for the Class of 2017.  Your class gift committee has been working hard to drum up participation and donations.  

When we speak about Class Gift, you hear how Booth is compared to other schools on the basis of participation and overall gift amounts.  This is a generalization of just one goal of class gift.  If we take a moment to look inwards, there are personal reasons for all of us to buy into the spirit of advancement at the University of Chicago.

For me, I have drawn an incredible amount from Booth.  I came here expecting to leave with a better education, stronger network and fancier job title.  I did not expect that I would be leaving here with the incredible wealth of experiences behind me that I have accumulated.  The challenges that I have taken advantage of here include facing my fearful athleticism in Rugby, co-chairing our alumni relations club, serving as a law school LEAD facil, leading a random walk, co-chairing our cohort’s Gargoyles video, acting in Follies, competing in leadership challenge and case competitions…the list goes on.  The personal growth I have witnessed in myself through my two years here is dramatic and striking.  I have grown more confident, aware and capable.   

I have had the opportunity to do all of these things surrounded by the most talented, capable and amazing people that I could have ever imagined.  Without a doubt, some of my strongest and hopefully lifelong friendships will come out of Booth.  I’ve experienced an entirely different sort of growth through my recruiting commiseration sessions with Andrew Heeter and Tom Kozlowski or late night Costa Rica random walk ‘planning sessions’, defeating one ounce frosty beverages with the help of Doug Sutherland, Alex Sukhareva and Valen Egaña.  Seeing how my peers here tackle their own personal road to success has been a learning experiences all of its own.  

The mission of this year’s Class Gift is to provide significant scholarship opportunities to candidates who have proven themselves as community builders and leaders.  I was especially touched by this mission and it helped both draw me to the committee and secure my own donation.  All of the experiences I have described at Booth have been made stronger because of our student body’s pay it forward mentality, humble attitude and constant desire for improvement.  It was a differentiating factor that drew me to Booth.  I am excited that my donation can help make this an affordable experience for future candidates who have already proven themselves as individuals who can and will contribute to our unique culture.   

Soon, we will be leaving this institution.  This campaign gives us an opportunity to leave our legacy.  In a year, or two, or three, you or I may be interviewing a candidate and see the “Class of 2017 Scholarship Award” on their resume.  If so, I know I will feel pride in knowing I helped recruit a future community leader to Booth. If you have already give your donation, thank you.  If you have not, I invite you to join us - there is still a short window of time left to make an impact.

Field-Forged Bonds at Booth

Julian Rowlands, Class of 2017

Julian Rowlands, Class of 2017

The last two years at Booth have been momentous and transformative.  I feel like I've packed a decade's worth of life into these six ten-week terms.  I could fill a book with all the highs and lows and insane adventures and pinch-me moments that I've experienced over the course of my MBA  Yet, my time on the rugby team stands head and shoulders above the rest of my Booth experience.  The fun parts were FUN: we hit 6th street in Austin in neon Dumb and Dumber tuxedos on Halloween, we wore drag and shook our hips onstage at Pink Party, and we literally carried a fellow Boothie around Chicago for her birthday bar crawl.  Nevertheless, the best parts of my Booth Rugby experience happened on the pitch.  That’s where men like Doug Sutherland and Rob Weir started out as strangers to me, but over time became my brothers.  We sweat and we bled for each other week after week, and the bonds that come from that are unbreakable.  When you’re exhausted, muscles that you didn’t even know existed are screaming for mercy, and you feel like the five minutes remaining in the game are an eternity, the thing that keeps you going is the sight of the men around you who you couldn’t bear to let down.  And then – when the whistle blows and your friends go crazy because you’ve BEATEN KELLOGG and victory beers are being drunk out of the trophy cup you’ve just won (again) – you look around yourself and you know in your heart of hearts that life couldn’t possibly get better than this.