Eight Zoom square displays with 6 women and 2 men all wearing UF MBA shirts.
UF MBA's Diversity Committee, including UF MBA students Kristyn Cadwell, Mikaela Medeiros, Gina Garcia, Megan Towzey, John Scurto, Carla Rubio, Fedia Deshommes and UF MBA Assistant Director of Admissions Jeff Danso.

Second annual Diversity Weekend highlights UF MBA’s inclusivity

In February, UF MBA hosted its second annual Diversity Weekend, where prospective students virtually learned about how UF MBA embraces and supports its MBAs from diverse backgrounds. We asked the Diversity Committee, made of current UF MBA students, to share about the event, how this event helps prospective students, why it’s important and more. Read on to see what they had to say.  

Q: What is Diversity Weekend all about?

The UF MBA Diversity Weekend 2021 was a fun, engaging and informative virtual event where the UF MBA community welcomed prospective students from diverse backgrounds. Through a variety of activities and the participation of alumni, staff and current students over the entire weekend, the event offered a glimpse into the inclusive culture we cultivate here within UF MBA and how that shows up in our MBA experience. Not only did the event offer multiple opportunities for prospective students to interact with current students and alumni, but it also allowed attendees to learn more about the specific ways our program celebrates diversity. This included conversations about our MBAA Diversity and Inclusion clubs, how our Business Career Services tailors the career search experience to match our specific backgrounds, the importance of fostering diverse representation within companies, among others. – Gina Garcia (MBA ’21)

Q: What did you all do?

The Diversity Weekend Committee was made up of seven students and a staff lead from the MBA Admissions Team, Jeff Danso, Assistant Director of Admissions for the Full-Time MBA. The group met weekly for several months leading up to Diversity Weekend, with each member responsible for planning specific parts of the event. – Mikaela Medeiros (MBA ’21)

Q: Who was Diversity Weekend for?

This event was aimed towards prospective students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a Full-Time MBA at UF. This included, but was not limited to, individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, students with disabilities, active-duty military members or veterans. Allies to any of these groups were also encouraged to participate. Overall, we wanted to create a welcoming virtual environment for all individuals that wanted to learn more about the beauty of a diverse and inclusive MBA culture. – Gina Garcia (MBA ’21)

Q: Why did you want to be involved with Diversity Weekend? What was important to you about doing so?

When asked to serve as the Communications Lead for Diversity Weekend, I felt honored. As someone who is a part of a minority group, I understand the importance of being in an environment that embraces and celebrates diversity. I appreciate the inclusive culture at UF MBA, and I love how the program emphasizes diversity and inclusion with events like Diversity Weekend. I felt that it was vital for me to communicate that message to other potential students through my involvement with the event. Diversity Weekend can leave a lasting impression on attendees, so it was my priority to authentically showcase how incredible our MBA program is here at UF.  – John Scurto (MBA ’22)

Q: Why did you feel this event was important for UF MBA to host?

Hosting Diversity Weekend every year is one of the ways for UF MBA to show its commitment to increasing diversity and representation in our program, not just to prospective students but also faculty, current MBAs and staff. However, there are other significant benefits for the program for hosting this event. First, it allows us to showcase our culture to prospective students through the lens of current students. Our students are candid about their experience, and through their stories, others can see how inclusivity and community are in the core of the full-time program. The different events throughout the weekend also give prospective students the chance to see themselves represented in our cohorts, which can be encouraging when selecting an MBA program. Finally, hosting these events gives UF MBA access to diverse talent, not only to admit the best but also to ensure that diverse groups continue to be represented year over year. – Carla Rubio (MBA ’21)

Q: What takeaways did you have from Diversity Weekend?

Diversity Weekend emphasized the importance of creating opportunities to truly demonstrate the program’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Facilitating interactions between prospective students, current students, alumni and staff members enabled attendees to authentically engage with the UF MBA experience. It became evident throughout the weekend that the attendees preferred the sessions that encouraged candid discussions. We acknowledged that providing an immersive and diverse experience would require an emphasis on the interactions between all students. We also noted a positive response to starting the conversation around diversity and inclusion in the program and in the workplace early, even before students apply to the program. – Fedia Deshommes (MBA ’22)

Q: Anything else you’d like to share about the event?

It was exciting to welcome back three members of last year’s inaugural Diversity Weekend committee who are now alumni: Vladimir Charles (MBA ’20), Nicole Howe (MBA ’20), and Sandra Rayo Orozco (MBA ’20). Vladimir and Nicole gave the Opening Keynote, and Sandra was a panelist on the alumni panel. I, too, hope to participate in Diversity Weekend as an alum and look forward to seeing how future Diversity Weekend committees bring this event to life for years to come. – Mikaela Medeiros (MBA ’21)

Q: Was Diversity Weekend successful in your eyes?

After a successful inaugural Diversity Weekend last year, we were committed to delivering a quality experience again in year two. Despite the virtual format, the feedback we have received leads me to believe it was just as impactful. One attendee said, “It’s very evident that there was a lot of attention and detail put into every aspect of this weekend… I felt like it was very engaging. It was fun. It had just the right amount of everything.” Another appreciated that he got a sense of what it is like be in a cohort with people from many different backgrounds. He remarked, “It’s really exciting to think that you can be part of a cohort that has so much diversity with people from all around the world potentially.” Another valued everyone being so transparent in terms of the process and their experience in the program. She thought Diversity Weekend was a “good opportunity to get an understanding of what to expect if and when [she] decides to join the MBA Program.” – Mikaela Medeiros (MBA ’21)

Q: Do you hope this event continues?

Absolutely. One of the main takeaways from my MBA has been a newfound appreciation for the role diversity and inclusion play in the success of business organizations. I’ve gained a deeper understanding for disability rights, LGBTQ+ experiences, racial and ethnic diversity, and the important role diverse experiences play in leading a team. This weekend underscores this message and is an integral part of UF MBA recruiting, retaining and supporting top talent across minority groups, which benefits the program as a whole. – Megan Towzey (MBA ’21)

Q: Any closing thoughts?

I want to sincerely thank Jeff Danso, the committee, the staff, and everyone who participated in Diversity Weekend – the event would not have been possible without you! – Mikaela Medeiros MBA ‘21