The Q&A below is with Mr. Booth2013. Mr. Booth2013 has a very impressive background both professionally and as someone with a real commitment to Gay Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender equality. As an engaged Gay member of the Booth MBA community, I asked him if he would be willing to share his insights. While I think his perspective will be particularly helpful to LGBT applicants to Booth and other MBA programs, his MBA admissions related advice is especially valuable to all Booth applicants.
Adam: What was your perception of the status of LGBT students at Booth before you applied? Now that you have finished your first year, has your impression changed? How?
Mr. Booth2013: My perception of the LGBT students at Booth was not very different than LGBT students at other schools. My first interaction was during Admit Weekend and I found many of the second-years to be a lot of fun. There were students that came from different backgrounds: entrepreneurs, consultants, bankers, etc. What I’ve found is that each year changes and every class has a distinct personality.
Adam: What resources are there at Booth for LGBT students?
Mr. Booth2013: There are many places that LGBT students can turn to at Booth and the University of Chicago as a whole. OUTreach (LGBTQ Students and allies) is the student group that organizes a lot of the recruitment and social activities. You can also visit the University’s Student LGBT Center if you want support from the broader community. It’s also a good way to meet other LGBT students in other graduate programs. Of course, you can always talk to anyone on the admissions team, academic or student group advisors.
Adam: Are then any openly LBGT faculty and staff at Booth? If so, what sort of support do they provide to LGBT students?
Mr. Booth2013: Yes, I know of four faculty members and a few staff members that are out about their sexual orientation at Booth. The “out” professors are also known to be the best in their field and their classes are usually very difficult to get into because of how popular they are. Two of these professors annually throw a gathering at their own homes to bring students, alumni, staff, and friends together in the area. It’s a great space to meet the professors on a more personal level.
Adam: I know you have been active in Booth’s OUTreach. What does OUTreach do? How many active members does it have?
Mr. Booth2013: As mentioned above, OUTreach is the student group that organizes and plans many of the recruiting and social events for Chicago Booth. Some of the activities include coordinating the recruiting dinners and admission talks that take place in the fall and winter. We organize a trip to the annual Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) conference, a gathering of LGBT MBA students every fall. Every spring, we also host the PINK party, a drag contest among our classmates to raise money for LGBT awareness. This year, we opened it up for drag kings as well as drag queens. We have twenty LGBT members and this past year, have over 220 straight allies who signed a pledge supporting LGBT equality.
Adam: What plans does OUTreach have for 2012-2013?
Mr. Booth2013: Last year, we recently rebranded from our previous name because we wanted to be more inclusive of our member demographic and have a name that reflected that diversity. We worked on updating our website and forming partnerships with organizations in the University of Chicago and other schools such as Kellogg. OUTreach plans to be even more active next year. In addition to our dedicated LGBT admission panels, we plan to host an all day LGBT focused session for prospective students so they can learn more about the current students. We are expanding our allies reach and have designated an allies co-chair who will focus on events that go beyond our normal events. We have already planned events to partner with other student groups. One example that comes to mind is coordinating with the wine club to have a wine tasting from countries that have legalized same-sex marriage.
Adam: Have you encountered any homophobia at Booth? If so, what form does it take?
Mr. Booth2013: It would be naive to say that I’ve never encountered homophobia but I think that most people who are uncomfortable with gay students just avoid being around us. I’m pretty out and so are many of OUTreach members. I’ve encountered more incidents of support and curiosity from my classmates than conflict in this area.
Adam: What advice would you have to LGBT applicants to Booth and to MBA programs in general?
Mr. Booth2013: If you’ve done some great work in the LGBT space, don’t hide it. Explain what you did and let your work speak for itself. On the flip side, don’t expect that being gay will give you carte blanche into any MBA program. In particular to Booth, don’t write essays in the Power Point slides. Put something in those slides that will help admissions remember who you are. For any MBA program, make sure to reach out to the student groups and ask to speak with one of the leadership team members. Every group should have someone who is dedicated to speak with prospective students and can give you a leg up on your application.
Adam: Are there any specific websites or blogs that you would recommend that LGBT applicants to Booth and/or other MBA programs look at?
Mr. Booth2013: Admissions at Booth is increasing its social media presence and you can find some stories of current students and news on Facebook and Twitter. I personally like Poets & Quants to get an understanding of what goes on in other MBA programs. Your blog was particularly helpful when I was writing essays and practicing for interviews. Clear Admit’s wiki page was really good and helped easy the nerves right before interviewing.
Adam: Anything else you would like to tell us?
Mr. Booth2013: Apply to Booth. Reach out to the student groups. Ask the tough questions on what really goes on. If you are admitted, go to the admit weekend and spend some time with the first year students. They will be second years when you arrive on campus and the ones you turn to for advice and support. Good luck and enjoy the ride!
I want to thank Mr. Booth2013 for taking the time to answer my questions.
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