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Seeds of Community: The 2022 Tuck Diversity Conference

The 2022 DivCo co-chairs reflect on this year’s conference theme: Seeds of Community.

The 28th annual Tuck Diversity Conference (DivCo) will be held in person and on campus September 23–25, 2022.

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This year’s conference will feature keynote remarks from Justin Rodriguez T’13, managing director, partner, and head of Black, Latinx, & Indigenous Recruiting at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). DivCo’s schedule of events also includes a special Tuck Unplugged session led by Tuck Association of Diverse Alumni (TADA) co-chair Ramsey Jay, Jr. T’05, small group dinners, an alumni career panel, industry panel sessions and coffee chats, and the annual Blacklight Party hosted by Black Students Association at Tuck (BSAT). 

As we look ahead to DivCo, the 2022 co-chairs—T’23s Divya Bobra, Penny Chen, Anurag Gupta, Andrew Key, Devu Nair, and Daniel Yang—reflect on this year’s theme, Seeds of Community, and what makes DivCo such a transformative experience. 

Divya Bobra T’23

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Tuck is where I am getting to sow the seeds of my community that span nationality, race, ethnicity, age, and identity.

I was writing this blog sitting at the Austin airport when a little girl next to me tapped my hand, explained something in Spanish, laughed it off and walked away. I was amused and confused at the same time. Did she ask me to do something or am I just supposed to laugh at a joke?! I never found out. Although, it did make me realize how that child was unaware of our differences and how as we grow old, we complicate our lives by believing in these differences. We start holding ourselves back simply because we don’t look like, sound like, or belong from the places that others around us do.

I was no different when I came to Tuck—apprehensive of being included and not finding my voice. Moving across continents and choosing to be in a small town tucked away in the Upper Valley presented me with its own charms and challenges. However, this change was made possible only by the strength of the Tuck community—a community that welcomes you with open arms and embraces the uniqueness that YOU bring to the school. With the diversity in our backgrounds and life experiences, the students at Tuck fit together like puzzle pieces, completing each other, and growing together.

Tuck is where I am getting to sow the seeds of my community that span nationality, race, ethnicity, age, and identity. I hope you take this opportunity of joining us in Hanover for the Diversity Conference 2022 and experience this vibrant culture of Tuck firsthand.

Divya Bobra T’23 is a second-year student at the Tuck School of Business and comes with over 5 years of experience prior to business school. While she started her career in investment banking, her passion for women empowerment drove her to the non-profit sector, where she led implementation of “Internet Saathi,” a project promoted by Tata Trusts and Google for digital literacy of women in rural India. In her last role prior to school, she was executive assistant to the CEO of Tata Trusts, a role she says was almost an MBA before her MBA. Divya interned with Bain & Company in the Boston office and is slated to join them back after graduation.

At Tuck Divya is involved with the Volunteers Club, Net Impact Club, Women in Business, and serves as a Revers Nonprofit Board Fellow. She loves spending time birdwatching in Hanover and hosting small-group dinners with board games for friends.

Penny Chen T’23

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There is a Chinese saying that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ I believe you can be the seeds of change in our community by taking a small step to come to DivCo today and another step of coming to Tuck tomorrow.

My first shock of diversity came when I left China to study in Singapore. At the young age of 15, I took a while to adjust to the English-speaking, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural environment in Singapore. Despite her history of ethnic segregations spotted with conflicts and even racial riots, Singapore is now a truly harmonious society where Chinese, Indians, Malays and Eurasians live in peace together. This is all because of its equitable and inclusive community—every food court in Singapore features cultural cuisines to accommodate various dietary restrictions, in school I happily swapped my Chinese cheongsam for my Indian friend’s sari to try on each other’s traditional costumes, during job interviews we competed equally and fairly based on our capabilities and skills. With my own eyes, I saw how an inclusive community could pull everyone to the same starting line and build a meritocratic society where everyone stands a chance to win.

After coming to Tuck, I was filled with confusion initially why the school still placed such an emphasis on DEI. If Singapore has solved this problem long time ago, why is everyone still so worried about it here? However, after attending the discussions and workshops, I realized that inclusion and equity are not just about not picking fights against each other, but also about helping each other to shine because of our backgrounds. We learned about the different psychological stages in intercultural development—denial, polarization, minimization, acceptance, adaptation—and after some soul searching, my classmates and I admitted that we were at acceptance at best, with many in minimization. Tuck is spearheading many diversity initiatives by providing a platform for every culture to shine. I truly appreciated the opportunities offered at Tuck to learn about this issue and elevate my understanding to a new level.

Diversity manifests in many forms. Besides cultural and nationality aspects, there is also diversity in age, seniority, function, personality, educational background, marital status, sexual orientation, financial privilege, etc. People can be different in a million ways. It is up to us, as wise decisive leaders of tomorrow, to ensure our workplace is as inclusive and equitable as it can be. In a team event, can we exchange conversations with the newcomers instead of just sticking with the old friends? In lunch, can we sit next to the colleague who is old enough to be my grandfather and ask about his day? In data analysis, can we do an extra sensitivity table to address the concerns from the risk-averse Finance team? There is a Chinese saying that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I believe you can be the seeds of change in our community by taking a small step to come to DivCo today and another step of coming to Tuck tomorrow.

Penny Chen T’23 was born in China and moved to Singapore during high school. She studied Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in Nanyang Technological University and pursued an operations management trainee program with Abbott Laboratories post-graduation. After becoming a Tuckie, Penny is passionate about spreading the fame of Tuck to those interested. She is the Regional Admission Captain for applicants from both China and South-east Asia and a fellow for the Next Step: Pivot to Business program for elite athletes and military veterans hoping to break into the business world. Penny interned with Kearney in New York office this summer where she completed a 100km century ride and raised more than $36,000 for the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation with the Kearney team. 

Anurag Gupta T’23

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The seeds of community and diversity were sown in my nascent mind during my childhood when I had the opportunity to live and study in different places across the length and breadth of India.

I come from a civilization which has, for centuries, believed in the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, or, the world is one family. This has been a core philosophy in Indian society since ancient times. It envisions the entire human race as one global community. Over the years, I have come to believe that this feeling of oneness—of the spirit of co-existence and sense of community—is inherent to humankind and has consistently proven to be strong enough to overcome any barriers. Fostering a sense of community along with the principles of compassion and empathy underpins our very existence.

The seeds of community and diversity were sown in my nascent mind during my childhood when I had the opportunity to live and study in different places across the length and breadth of India. From the tribal areas of Jharkhand to the conflict-prone region of Jammu & Kashmir, I not only got to see life through various lenses but also experienced one of the most culturally, linguistically, socially, and religiously diverse countries in the world. Seeing this potpourri of diverse traditions and cultures has consistently amazed me and strengthened my belief that celebrating diversity and creating an inclusive community have always been innate to our evolution as a society.

Coming from the bustling metropolis of Mumbai to the small community of Hanover, these long-held beliefs were pleasantly reinforced by the supportive and affectionate community I found at Tuck. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about moving 8,000 miles away from home to a foreign land with a different culture and unusual climate (having lived in 110 degrees, it took a while to adjust to -10 degrees!). However, as soon as I landed in Hanover, I immediately got a preview of the strength and depth of the Tuck community when an assistant dean came to pick me up on a weekend. Over the year, I realized that the entire community at Tuck, whether it be students, professors, administration, or alumni, not only consistently supported me, but also embraced me and my unique individuality. From helping me understand the nuances of Western culture to preparing me for case interviews even during Christmas break, the true fabric of Tuck  manifested in several forms throughout my first year.

When we were thinking about the theme for this year’s Diversity Conference, Seeds of Community was the first theme suggested and it immediately resonated with all of us because community and diversity are what Tuck stands for. I am super excited to welcome this year’s DivCo participants to our intimate and vibrant Tuck community.

Anurag Gupta grew up across different places in India and graduated from BITS Pilani with an integrated master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Prior to Tuck, he spent seven years in investment Banking with J.P. Morgan in Mumbai focusing on health care, industrials, automotive, aerospace and defense, and logistics sectors. Over the summer, Anurag interned with the Boston Consulting Group as a summer consultant and is planning to join them back next year. At Tuck, Anurag is co-chair of Tuck Sustains and the Tuck Association of Diverse Alumni (TADA) and also serves as a Center for Business, Government & Society fellow, a Center for Health Care fellow, and a Nonprofit Board fellow.

Andrew Key T’23

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[DivCo] can confirm the community you want to be proudly engaged with for the rest of your life—which I think is the real heart of the MBA journey.

Full disclosure: I was an absolute fiend for Tuck information sessions and coffee chats in the Summer of 2020. I admittedly had gone overboard, but in my defense, these were the pre-vaccine days and I could only enjoy so much time outside in Alabama’s sweltering sticky season. My early COVID hobbies had already fallen by the wayside by this point and talking about Tuck granted senses of hope and excitement in ways that the other schools on my list frankly just didn’t.

All that to say, I didn’t need DivCo to learn about Tuck. I knew the facts inside and out; I had accumulated heaps of responses to queries of “what was your favorite class?” and the like by this point. (But to be clear, DivCo is designed such that normal people—who are doing everything right—can be exposed to and explore the fundamentals.) 

What I didn’t know, however, was what it was like to actually be a Tuckie—just as I knew that seeing a picture of the Grand Canyon did not count as having seen the real thing. These 30-minute to one-hour interactions were not the same as actually becoming a part of Tuck myself. I needed to attend DivCo to better understand this critical piece. Spoiler: It worked.

It worked because DivCo is an immersive, shared experience. I saw the awesome array of T’21 co-chairs in action for a whole weekend and I was able to confidently believe that the warmth I felt was the real Tuck versus a façade that just needed to be maintained until the end of a Zoom call. I remember that while we were playing a game at DivCo, my team did well through a healthy mix of leadership skills and puzzle smarts. I was able to relay that into understanding how Tuck’s team sport/no spectator culture would lift me to new personal, professional, and academic heights. I saw that Tuck attracted so many people of the sort that I actively wanted to keep in touch with—people I was elated to later see accept their offers of admissions. Scrolling through the 2020 DivCo GroupMe members, as I recently did, can feel like reviewing the tracks on a greatest hits album. When I talk about this year’s conference theme being “Seeds of Community,” this is 100 percent what I mean. 

In closing, I would challenge prospective attendees to think about DivCo as a weekend in the life of a Tuckie, and more, too. DivCo can help you imagine starting off many a future Saturday morning with some fantastic Upper Valley diner fare, and it can confirm the community you want to be proudly engaged with for the rest of your life—which I think is the real heart of the MBA journey. That’s how Tuckies think of it, anyway. Hope to see you at DivCo.  

Andrew Key T’23 is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA and he has lived in a handful of other places throughout the US Eastern and US Central time zones since then, plus a home in Shanghai from his study abroad experience. He is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and he worked in social impact and consulting roles before pursuing his MBA. Thanks to Tuck, Andrew was able to combine these interest areas and intern as a social impact consultant at The Bridgespan Group. Andrew continues his DEI-focused work at Tuck through leadership positions in Low Income/First Generation at Tuck and Consortium. He is also a Business, Government & Society fellow and a Nonprofit Board fellow.

Devu Nair T’23

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You are immersed in a tight-knit community that wants you to be your authentic self and get to know you for who you are.

Of course, I’m biased, but to me this year’s theme encapsulates what it is to be at Tuck. I arrived on campus about 13 months ago, after an 18-hour road trip from Milwaukee, WI with my mother. With every passing hour on the road, we felt like we were moving further and further away from the type of urban environment that we were familiar with. It was my first time in Hanover—actually my first time in any part of New England that wasn’t Boston. Walking around campus and town for the first time, I thought I was in an idyllic New England vacation town masquerading as a college town.

Into fall, I realized no one really moves to Hanover, NH knowing anyone … so your classmates are all you have. For better or worse, they are your only options of folks to hang out and adventure with. Despite the initial growing pain this gives, it also creates an unparalleled bond. You are immersed in a tight-knit community that wants you to be your authentic self and get to know you for who you are. 

With time, I grew to understand that this is exactly where I was supposed to be. As an immigrant to the US, I relied on a variety of TV shows to assimilate and learn more about how my peers lived and laughed. One of my absolute favorites was Gilmore Girls. What I enjoyed most about the show—the colorful characters, the support and care they exhibited for one another, the accidental run-ins when folks go into town for coffee or breakfast—all pointed to one thing: community. Tuck and Hanover were my own version of the fictional Stars Hollow. I hope that this year’s attendees find Tuck to be a place where they can plant seeds and develop roots to create their own communities, just like I did. See you soon!

Devu Nair grew up across three different countries, so a weighted average of her hometowns is somewhere over the Atlantic. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then worked as a Product Manager for Capital One before Tuck. At Tuck, she is co-chair of Next50, Glen Tuck Society, Design & Innovation club, and Tuck Association of Diverse Alumni. Alongside school, she works part-time as Head of Product for Finsie, a startup building the first online, national marketplace for Americans to easily access financial and investment advisors. Over the summer, she interned as a digital consultant at Boston Consulting Group in Philadelphia, PA and plans to return there after graduation. 

Daniel Yang T’23

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Seeds of Community is about creating a strong foundation where diversity and inclusion across any strata can flourish in our educational and professional environments.

Seeds of Community is about creating a strong foundation where diversity and inclusion across any strata can flourish in our educational and professional environments. Regardless of our backgrounds, it is about truly encouraging people to not judge a book by its cover. To me this also means being able to flourish as our authentic selves in rapidly changing environments. 

My journey to Tuck took me across many different paths and experiences. Growing up in Anning, China my world was quite different from what I have now come to know. This time in China for myself and my family was quite dynamic, with a rapidly growing economy, the world was truly opening for us to experience and explore. At the same time, I knew that I was different from many of my friends, and came to realize and understand that I was gay. With the world and myself both changing rapidly, I had the opportunity to conduct my undergraduate program in Sydney, Australia—experiencing a whole new culture both educationally and personally, not to mention within a second language. During my time in Sydney; being the cosmopolitan environment that it is, I made friends and contacts of all different backgrounds and with many different perspectives. Professionally, I had graduated from the University in Sydney and was able to join the team at PwC, opening myself to a wider world of different ways of thinking and communicating. Yet, I felt the need to once again, try something new and pursue more change to further experience the world.

With my decision to attend Tuck, I was unsure and nervous about this change that I was now inviting into my life. Would my own unique diversity be tolerated, let alone understood or embraced in this rural setting? Would I be able to still be a part of a diverse community of people, backgrounds, ideas, and languages? Before I could answer these questions—another change was hoist onto all of us—the COVID pandemic quickly circling the world. Suddenly, all our worlds were shifted online, condensing the multitude of experiences and ways of meeting and understanding people onto screens and into video calls. Leaving Australia during this unprecedented time and arriving to Tuck under these circumstances challenged myself—would it be hard for me to meet people and make meaningful connections in this new, pandemic-necessitated isolated world?

On arriving at Tuck and getting to experience my first year on campus, I am happy to say that this has been one of the best endeavors I have decided to undertake. My concerns relating to my background and being isolated to a smaller environment evaporated once I joined the community and began to make great connections with my classmates and the faculty present at Tuck. I am recognized as who am I as a whole person, and in turn recognize the many whole people who exist from so many different diverse strata at Tuck. Through this great experience, I have joined DivCo to help continue to grow this great community, to further build this strong foundation for diversity and inclusion, and to truly encourage everyone to not judge a book by its cover in this educational journey. 

Daniel grew up in Kunming, China and received his B.Com. (Hons) degree from the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to Tuck, he worked as a consultant for PwC out of the Sydney office, where he helped his clients leverage data analytics to improve business operations. This summer, Daniel interned with the Boston Consulting Group in their Washington D.C. office as a Summer Consultant. At Tuck, Daniel also serves as a co-chair for TuckGIVES, and will be going on a term-exchange at WHU in Düsseldorf, Germany this winter. In his spare time, you can find Daniel exploring new travel destinations, trying out food of all cultures, and skiing down mountain