Thank You, Yale…

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A heartwarming story from Lauren about how an opportunity to go on a Global Leadership programme at the Ivy League college, Yale in America, empowered her to view herself, and her peers, as above statistics.

Thank you, Yale for reminding me that my generation are my companions not my competition.

Thank you, Yale for reminding me that my generation are my companions not my competition. Thank you, for reminding me that success doesn’t need to be measured by a salary. Thank you, for reminding me that corporate social responsibility should always be more than a trade mark at the bottom of a website. Thank you, for reminding me that sometimes being a minority can be a good thing. Thank you, for reminding me that there is always somewhere where I’m part of the majority. Thank you, for making that Yale.

I’ve put off writing this article for a month.

I’ve put off writing this article for a month. If I’m being honest, thinking about my US experience overwhelms me, it scares me. During the month of June, I spent two intense, but incredible weeks at the Yale School of Management studying ‘Global Leadership’. The website sells it as a two-week program that ‘develops your practical knowledge of business and management in a global context, and inspires you to draw upon your leadership abilities in order to make a positive impact in your personal and professional endeavours’. Even the summary of the course intimidates me.

The course taught me about business and society, micro-economics, leadership, global macro strategy, marketing, behavioural finance, entrepreneurship, diversity, race, religion, failure, inadequacies, societal prejudices… the list goes on. It focused on nurturing great business people – but the focus was on strengthening the person, not the business.

It was two weeks where I was flung out of my comfort zone, and placed into the unknown. The unknown where everything and everyone else was exceptional. The background to this is that for the majority of my school life I was a C-grade student – I was good but not great. I wasn’t stupid, but I also wasn’t considered massively intelligent either. Similar to too many young kids today, the British schooling system had labelled me ‘unexceptional’, which has been a pretty hard label to shake.

…it was a reflection of the grades achieved by people ‘similar’ to me…

I think the saddest part of my C grade label was that when I asked what those grades were based on, I was told that it was a reflection of the grades achieved by people ‘similar’ to me. Apparently it was a logical estimation based on hard ‘facts’ and ’statistics’ that proved that the colour pigmentation of my skin was going to affect my academic aptitude, attitude and potential. That logic was obviously wrong, but logic like that is the reason many students don’t achieve their full potential. Being told you’re not good enough is what will hold them back, it has nothing to do with the colour of their skin.

My friends at Yale were CEOs, accountants, managers, investors, entrepreneurs, consultants, lawyers, political leaders; they were some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and by my school’s standards they would also have been C-grade students.

Yale proves that race-based logic is flawed.

Yale proves that race-based logic is flawed. This course was for students who are often failed by the system, and are often under-represented in management education. Yale made us the majority, and reminded us that we define who we are and what we do, everything else is irrelevant.

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