Oct 24, 2014

Tuck Pride @ ROMBA

 Joe DeBonis is a second-year student at Tuck, where he is the co-chair of Tuck Pride, a co-chair of the 2015 Tuck Winter Carnival, and a Tuck Admissions Associate. Originally from Glen Rock, New Jersey, Joe graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in French Studies and, prior to Tuck, spent three years  with Bain & Company in their Boston and New Delhi offices. This past summer, he worked as a strategy intern at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and will be returning to the New York office of Bain & Company after graduating from Tuck. Outside of the classroom, Joe enjoys running,  traveling, and developing his trivia skills in architecture, geography, and pop culture.

1,400 LGBT MBA students, professionals, pre-MBA candidates, and MBA admissions officers; 3 days; 6 incredible keynote speakers; dozens of panels, workshops, career fairs, and networking receptions; 12 months of planning and preparation. Earlier this month, the 16th Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) conference took place in San Francisco, and four of ten ROMBA organizers, myself included, were proud to call themselves Tuckies.

ROMBA was founded 15 years ago with the goal of educating, inspiring, and connecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender MBA students across the United States. As first-years at Tuck, Cara, Jesse, Jasper and I were impressed with what we saw at last fall’s conference in New Orleans: an incredible community of smart, driven, ambitious LGBT MBA students learning about careers, connecting with employers in meaningful ways, and discussing issues that affect our community in and out of the workplace. We bonded with a fantastic group of students from Wharton and Rice and, within a few weeks of returning back to Hanover, had submitted a 35-page proposal to run the 2014 conference. When we were lucky enough to be selected as co-organizers, we embarked on a year of planning retreats, Google hangouts, content brainstorming, and programming development.

Planning the 2014 ROMBA conference proved to be an intense education in event planning (on a massive scale), networking, and, most importantly, relationship- and community-building. Acting on the opportunity to expand and nurture the much-discussed pipeline of LGBT talent headed to business school, I spearheaded a reinvigorated Pre-MBA track at ROMBA, working with admissions representatives at almost 40 top MBA programs from across the country to create a Pre-MBA Expo and panel discussions with students, alums, and administrators for prospective students. I greatly expanded my professional and personal networks; most important, I gained nine close friends (my co-organizers) whom I will always respect and trust dearly.

This particular ROMBA also made me very proud to be a Tuckie. Given our small size, our presence at the conference this year was inspiring. Four of the ten co-organizers, two members of the ROMBA Board of Directors, five first-year attendees, several professional representatives, alums and admissions officers at the Pre-MBA Expo—smart, engaged, and incredibly fun Tuckies were around every corner at the Hyatt San Francisco this year. As a co-chair of Tuck Pride, our student LGBT organization on campus, I talk to many prospective LGBT applicants about what it’s like to be proud and out in the woods of New Hampshire; this year’s ROMBA conference, while a personal achievement and unparalleled learning experience, was further proof of the tight-knit, engaged, and overwhelmingly supportive community that I and my LGBT friends and classmates enjoy up here in Hanover.