Senior Associate at Radon Law Offices; Lecturer, Columbia University
At Tuck, I felt safe sharing my background and challenges, either because my classmates came themselves from comparable situations, or because they were simply understanding and appreciative that I was willing to share an aspect of me that was so deeply personal.
I am very grateful for my experience at Tuck because the school promotes meaningful socioeconomic diversity and integration. Being from Réunion Island, a place off the coast of Mozambique that is truly multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic, I was fortunate enough that I did not suffer from racial discrimination growing up (if anything, Asians are the minority in Réunion and people of African descent are the majority). But I am from what is considered a low income environment: as a family of seven, we lived in a three-bedroom apartment and shared a bathroom with another family. Réunion at the time was mostly an agricultural economy with high levels of poverty and an unemployment rate around 25 percent. My dad who can neither read nor write ran a small restaurant business working seven days a week for over 50 years until he and my mom retired in their mid-70s.
At Tuck, I felt safe sharing my background and challenges, either because my classmates came themselves from comparable situations, or because they were simply understanding and appreciative that I was willing to share an aspect of me that was so deeply personal. I credit the school for promoting values such as empathy whether in the curriculum (one of my favorite courses was “Leadership out of the Box” by Professor Ella Bell Smith) or elsewhere. It is the school culture that makes socioeconomic integration truly successful in my experience.
It is also thanks to my experience and learnings at Tuck that I am able to empathize and create a human connection with my clients. One of them for example grew up in war-torn Afghanistan and never had the luxury of going to school. Bishop Eduardo Kussala of South Sudan writes me regularly about the terrible situation in his country.
Most importantly, I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to meet incredible people at Tuck who still inspire me by their actions. When I was growing up, I wish I knew people in my environment who could have helped me “broaden my horizons” through their own experiences. This is why I try to help young Réunion students who, like me, might find it hard to take full advantage of their potential when they don’t have any source of inspiration and support (in 2015 I was the recipient of an award by the Committee for the Promotion of Overseas French Nationals).
Tuck taught me the importance of giving back and helped me articulate the type of leadership I hope to demonstrate, where I can make a difference in people’s lives.
As told to the Tuck Association of Diverse Alumni
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