Monday, October 29, 2012

From Bloomington to Boston – A Journey of Empowerment



By Rajeev Gupta  
Second-year MBA, Entrepreneurial Innovation Academy

Early this summer, when I was still figuring myself out and wasn’t a part of LGBT community, I heard about the Reaching OUT MBA conference from a classmate at the Kelley School of Business. I felt that volunteering in this conference would be a very empowering experience for my organic process of self-realization.

I applied to volunteer as a session director for the panel on entrepreneurship and innovation and got selected for the same. I still remember how delighted Dr K of JCEI (Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation) was to learn this news and how helpful he was to me in identifying insightful questions for LGBT entrepreneurs. Even though I had volunteered for many activities in my life, I never imagined I could take a leadership role for a cause that is so personal to me.

As I immersed myself further in preparing for the October 15th , 2012 Boston, MA edition of this annual conference, I learned about an essay writing competition that required the participants to share their thoughts on what they thought was an LGBT community, what were the contemporary challenges and issues and how businesses could work with the community to advance those issues. I really wanted to participate, but being a new member of community and having only recent and limited exposure to American LGBT culture, I needed more knowledge. At this point, my biggest resource was Indiana University, especially professors and instructors at the Kelley School of Business.

I reached out to many people on campus who had been involved in the community. After understanding the meanings and relevance of LGBT community from the diverse perspectives they each provided, I married their insights with my own experiences and challenges so far.

As it turns out, my essay was awarded first prize at the conference! They announced my name in a room full of MBAs from all over the country – UCLA Anderson, NYU Stern, Berkley Haas - you name it they had it! And to hear them announce Indiana University, Kelley School of Business was such a proud moment for me. I was able to go up on the stage and represent IU. Ours was the only Midwest school that flashed up there during the awards ceremony!

With my 1st Place Prize
I owe every bit of this success to Indiana University – especially to the Kelley School of Business, the Maurer School of Law and the GLBT Center. I would have never obtained the courage to come this far in my journey had it not been for meeting resourceful mentors and classmates. I thank them and the inclusive community at Kelley for their willingness to always share their knowledge and time.

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