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From the Dean’s Desk: Reflections on Black History Month

This post is part of a “From the Dean’s Desk” series, where we hear directly from our UCLA Anderson leaders across the school.

Alex Lawrence

Today’s post is from Alex Lawrence, Assistant Dean & Director of Admissions for the Full-Time MBA Program. Alex is a UCLA Anderson MBA alum (Class of 1999), spending his post-MBA career working in Management Consulting prior to returning to UCLA Anderson, where he served as the Executive Director of The Riordan Program prior to joining the Admissions team.

February 1st marked the beginning of Black History Month here in the United States, so I wanted to provide my own recent observations about how this important month’s recognition of diversity is embodied at UCLA Anderson — not only this month, but year-round — and how our diverse community fuels so many of our achievements and our culture.

UCLA has a strong history of success from our record-breaking athletics (ever hear of Jackie Robinson?), to our numerous Nobel Prize winners (look up Ralph Bunche), and top-ranked medical center (we’re the “Best in the West” and #3 nationwide) …I think you get the idea.  This success is tied to the diverse talent  — diversity in background, races, religions, experiences, cultures — that has walked on the campus in the past, present, and definitely will do so in the future. And that talent is the core element…the fabric that makes the UCLA campus environment exciting, adventurous, intriguing, mysterious, and many more adjectives that welcomes those curious to take on the intellectual challenge of learning in order to make himself/herself a better person in the community at large. And our Anderson family is proud to be part of this broader UCLA community.

The UCLA Anderson student takes advantage of that experience in many different ways. At the beginning of February, UCLA Anderson hosted Velocity, the 2017 Anderson Women’s Leadership Summit. The event brought together more than 400 business leaders, alumni, faculty, students, admitted students, and prospective candidates. The night before Velocity, I had dinner with recently admitted students from the Class of 2019 at the home of a prominent alum. And then, the next day, as I was walking down Bruin Walk, I ran into a current first year student at UCLA Anderson who shared the exciting news of being offered an internship with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) – and she told me of her classmates receiving offers from companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon to name just a few. I had a meeting on Tuesday with one of my mentees from our Anderson Leadership Development Program. He is off and running (with plans to become part of the leadership group with the Entrepreneurs Association, completing his academic internship with an international firm, and deciding on a summer internship offer to join a well-respected large organization or start his own business. Last week, I looked on as three 2nd year students were hosting a webinar for candidates interested in The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. All of these individuals were trying to “pay forward” their knowledge and experience of applying to UCLA Anderson through the Consortium program. All very talented individuals who are extremely accomplished in his/her own way – engineer, consultant, poet – can you see the diversity, the talent, the Anderson family, the Shared Success? We truly “Think In The Next”, as our slogan goes.

Not all Anderson MBAs come from “traditional” business backgrounds, and it’s this type of diversity of experiences that makes Anderson even more enriching. Later this month, I will be hosting a GMAC webinar (February 22 at 10AM PST)  for individuals with a technical engineering background who are interested in pursuing an MBA. The panel will include yours truly as host. If you have this type of background, I invite you to join the conversation.

So in this month of February, as we celebrate and honor diversity, I encourage anyone considering pursuing an MBA to take advantage of our campus experience program and/or connect with a student virtually so you can still learn more about our truly special UCLA Anderson diverse community. From earlier this month’s Velocity conference and last month’s Embracing Diversity conference, to our year-round partnerships and participation in events with Forte FoundationROMBAProspanica, and more, we feel honored to embrace continue to uphold and embody a truly diverse community.

— Alex Lawrence

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