With COVID19 in the air, we’ve moved to digital classes. That means our MBA is now completely online and we have to rely on our devices to keep us connected. Classmates have moved back to be with their loved ones, and we’ve had to come up with new ways to communicate, plan events, and learn digitally. The night before we realized many of us would soon be miles apart, we got together for a bond fire to wish each other well. We laughed, we talked, we hugged (from a distance) and we said, ‘see you soon.’ As people begin to move, and with two terms behind us, it made me take a minute to breathe and write about the Oxford MBA so far.
The Oxford Union
In Hilary, I had the opportunity to serve as a Press Officer for the Oxford Union, which is one of the most famous debating societies in the world. It’s full of really incredible leaders who have come to Oxford to share their views and their work, and talk about the future of the globe. It’s something I dreamed of doing. I used to watch videos of the Chamber Talks online and I wondered what it would be like. After an interview process, I was invited to serve on the Committee for the Union.
As press officer, I spent a couple of hours a week at the Union, garnering media and covering live events. I spent a great deal of my career in media so when I came into the MBA I knew I wanted to rediscover my love for media. Being a part of the press team, I had the chance to invite cool speakers to Oxford, manage press at events and create our weekly newsletters that go out to journalists. I spent about 2 nights of my week at the Union and I got to cover events that featured people like Julian Metcalfe, the CEO and Founder of food brands, ITSU and Pret.
Additionally as a member of The Union, we also help to organize larger events, like the Union Ball. The Union puts on a Ball every term, full of dancing, jazz, silent discos, acrobats, oven cooked pizza,and so much more. This picture above is from the Hilary term Union Ball.
I wrapped up my time on the Committee with a farewell dinner where we ate fancy food, exchanged farewell cards and played the British the version of ‘never have I ever.’ With the wait staff chuckling besides us and the photographer bursting with laughter from time to time, my chest sunk and said, ‘this is Oxford.’ You come for this experience; where we fill decorated dining halls in floor length dresses and file out to nearby pubs and clubs in bow ties and gowns….where we have long candles that pardon our extensive dinner tables …where we have rooms filled with people that remind you about the importance of community and communication.
In the words of Julian Metcalfe, Hilary term taught me, “You must find what you love, build a career based on what you enjoy. It could be music; it could be carpets. It can be anything…as long as you love it and are happy, that’s what’s important.”
In Michaelmas I acted as a peer supporter, part of a group of 8 students who act as an emotional resource for students to deal with personal issues that surpass and sometimes include the academics. There is so much life that happens during the MBA; we’ve had marriages, family setbacks, and newborns in our cohort in just 6 months and dealing with these can be overwhelming. Peer Supporters are here to help guide many of our classmates through the big moments and the small. We also hold the responsibility of injecting more life into the program. For example, in a COVID19 world, we hosted a digital Concert, full of talent from our cohort.
The year is fun but it can also be tough, there is a lot that happens, and peer supporters are here to remind you that no one does it alone. We aim to be here for our cohort, whether it’s through Secret Santa Gift Exchanges, Digital Concerts or a quick pick me up note. Peer support was my anchor coming to Oxford and I’m glad I got to experience it.
In my time as a Peer Supporter, I got to see and understand what students went through. As a result, I decided to join the Student Council. I am the Student Council Co-President, a yearlong position, where I work closely with our administration and Dean on understanding the needs of our cohort and delivering the best program we can have.
This requires a lot of listening and attending to a variety of issues. I’m grateful for my role as its taught me on a larger level how to manage and oversee an organization and the many facets that arise with it, including sometimes, crises, like COVID19. We have weekly meetings and get the chance to meet with an array of faculty and students to better design the MBA.
Above is some of our council during one of our weekly meetings. Our council is made up of 16 individuals, with roles and responsibilities ranging from Careers Officer, Communications Officer, Section Reps and Social Chair.
Aside from student activities, there is so much to do in Oxford: there are dinners, sports, runs along the river and too much to contain in one post. Small victories for me are things like running my first Half Marathon with our cohort and taking a trip to Romania with a group of friends from the MBA. Seen below is us in our pretend castle:
My College (Lady Margaret Hall).
Aside from trips, and school, college life is important. Each of us belongs to a college, which is our social and communal life; it’s where you can take a break, meet with friends or study in the gorgeous library. I usually do Sunday brunch at my college, board games and often find it as a refuge from the busy days of the MBA. We also have meals here and I was able to invite several MBAs to lunches and formal dinners.
We wrapped up Hilary Block 1 with a lunch at my college (see photo below), Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) and we wrapped up Michaelmas with a Christmas Dinner Party at LMH as well. Meals at Oxford have taught me the importance of stepping away from the screen, and taking time to invest in who is in front of you. You never know what you’ll learn. If there is one thing I could take onto the next term and for life ahead, I’d say, ‘the value of community and communication’ matters most in this life. And with this Virus, we are seeing that more and more; just how important it is to keep in touch, to share and to help one another.
During these times, even if we’re apart, I hope you do just that, I hope find refuge in not only your home but in people. Stay connected, even if it is digital, we all need each other <3
Community can transform you.
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