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Valerie Aguiar

Degree:

MBA

Location:

Canada

Industry:

Fast Moving Consumer Goods

Year:

2018-19

By Valerie Aguiar

So little time, so much generosity..

My classmates are generous. Time is limited between classes, employer events, and social activities. Yet, time and time again, students are more than willing to offer their limited time to support other students in the program. I was lucky enough to get a sense of this well before joining the 2018-19 cohort.

My first encounter with SBS was through the Admissions staff and alumni. Both staff and alumni made time to get to know me, share advice, and provide honest feedback about the program. I reached out to alumni on LinkedIn and within days had phone calls or coffee meetings scheduled. That’s a powerful thing – and the one of the main reasons why I chose to join this community.

I recognised the kindness of this community a second time before setting foot in Oxford. I was caught in Gili T during the series of earthquakes in Indonesia and needed help to evacuate a group of 18 people. Classmates I had never met sent me phone numbers, words of support, and offered me a place to stay. I still think about how quickly these strangers stepped up to help.

This term, students have stepped up to help classmates struggling with some of the course work through group sessions, peer-to-peer tutoring, and sharing resources. Again, I’m blown away that someone else would spend two hours teaching finance concepts, but it happens a lot here.

At the same time, I can’t neglect the work that is left to be done. It’s clear to me that some students are left out as most conversations are in English. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to follow fast-paced conversations in a different language. Similarly, I’ve noticed students from the same country tend to flock together, often failing to invite others in. I’ve caught myself doing this too. Of course, it’s more comfortable to have a shared connection. But, then again, we’re not here to be comfortable. Go for a coffee with someone new, even if it’s uncomfortable at first.  In the end, community can’t exist without a little bit of intentionality.

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