With a Focus on a Thoughtful, Engaged Community, Marc Paulo Guzman Leads Darden’s Diversity Recruitment
Darden’s commitment to diversity and inclusion can be experienced in many ways. Prospective students have the opportunity to sample just a bit of that at this weekend’s Darden Diversity Conference, and current students just kicked off the academic year with a weeklong celebration of diversity and inclusion during the annual One Darden Week. Today’s post features Admissions Committee member Marc Paulo Guzman, organizer of the Diversity Conference and champion of all things diversity and inclusion.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My experiences as an immigrant, a refugee from war and as someone who grew up in a culturally diverse area have shaped my views and continue to influence how I think critically about diversity and inclusion. I was born in Kuwait to parents who emigrated there as skilled laborers from the Philippines. After the Persian Gulf War began, we were forced to leave our home and live in refugee camps until we were able to flee to the Philippines where we lived for 2 years. My family moved to the U.S. where we lived in the New York City metro area for most of my childhood. Within this
urban setting I was influenced by diversity of all kinds: religious, ethnic, cultural, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, political ideology — you name it!
It was through the direct contact and relationships I made with classmates and family friends of different backgrounds that I not only learned about different identities, customs, and traditions, but also how differently each group was treated or viewed in society. While I myself am a minority, I was still able to see nuances in the privileges I had in my family’s socio-economic background and race as compared to my friends and classmates.
Fast forward to 2012, where I joined the University of Virginia’s Multicultural Student Services. It is here where I learned more deeply how diversity and inclusion is different for everyone in higher education. I joined Darden in 2018 because I was eager to work with a smaller subset of the UVA community, and focus my passion and effort on diversity with graduate students in business.
Why are you passionate about diversity and inclusion?
I believe that we are truly better when all identities are represented, celebrated, heard and valued. Social hierarchies and power dynamics over the course of human history have prevented us from achieving this idea of equality so far.
From an education and business school perspective, diversity and inclusion are important because the pathways to a good education — let alone graduate business school — are not equal for everyone. For those who are underrepresented in business school, it is often hard to find others who look like them or come from similar backgrounds, and they are often in charge of charting their own paths. Additionally, not everyone comes from similar support systems and resources, and thus experience business school differently from one another. It is not only important to improve representation, but to also make sure that people from diverse identities are able to feel supported, find belonging and thrive.
What have you learned during your time at Darden?
Despite preconceived notions of business school and business school students, I have been utterly thrilled to see the welcoming community and collaboration that exists at Darden. I am also impressed how Darden values diversity as a common good, but especially in the case method, where diverse identities, backgrounds, and opinions are required to equip our leaders to become innovative, thoughtful and ethical leaders in management.
I’ve truly enjoyed the set of programs for our One Darden Diversity Week earlier this month. I was touched by everyone committing to, and signing, our Diversity Pledge, as well as everyone really opening up and being vulnerable at many of the student panels. As a foodie (I’m Yelp Elite!), I extremely enjoyed everyone’s culinary talents in the Global Food Fest, where we tasted dishes from all over the world, representing the global diversity of our Darden students.
What are three things you want prospective students to know about Diversity at Darden?
First, Darden is a proud member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) and a partner with Reaching Out For MBA (ROMBA), among other diversity partnerships.
We are committed to improving access and support for underrepresented communities in business. Through the Consortium, we hope to connect with and recruit talented students who identify as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native/Indigenous — as well as those who have experience supporting these underrepresented communities. We have one of the largest cohorts of Consortium students in the Consortium 20-school network and are very proud of how engaged they are in student leadership at Darden. We are also a proud partner of ROMBA, which focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ business school students. We sponsor two ROMBA LGBTQ Fellowships a year to incoming students who showcase a commitment to the development of the LGBTQ community at Darden through admissions, current student experiences and alumni engagement.
Second, our diverse students are heavily involved, engaged and well represented in the Darden community. They serve as leaders of our clubs and Darden Student Association, as well as leaders in our section class rooms. In fact, all five of the Class of 2020 section classroom representatives were either Consortium students or a person of color. In the Class of 2021, two of our section reps are Consortium students. They’ve also started initiatives such as Resilience Week as well as our inaugural Diversity Pledge.
Third, we have faculty and staff dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Our Chief Global Diversity Officer and Associate Dean Martin Davidson, serves as a thought leader in diversity and leads our strategy and mission to Diversity and Inclusion. We recently hired Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Christie Julien, who will work directly with our affinity club leaders, Consortium students and Dean’s Diversity Advisory Council. Together, they will be supporting diversity and inclusion for the entire Darden community — faculty, staff and students.
How does Darden encourage intersectionality?
The concept of intersectionality is important in making sure that we aren’t focused on isolating specific identities in a vacuum, but being mindful that individuals are living and experiencing the world at the overlap, or intersect, of their identities.
This idea has shaped the way we program in admissions. For example, many programs have specific weekends that focus on and highlight various identities: Minority Weekend, Women’s Conference, LGBTQ Weekend, etc. We want to be mindful of the fact that it is very possible that someone could identify with each of these identities, and that it is important we don’t require them to “choose” which one matters most or have to come to all three. We believe that our students live at the intersection of many identities which is why we have one Diversity Conference that focuses on race, gender, and sexual orientation.
What are you looking forward to most for this academic year?
I’m very excited to hosting our Darden Diversity Conference that will take place in early October. The program is coming together and the panel topics
and sessions planned will highlight a variety of important themes of diversity in business. We are excited to bring back alum who will be sharing their experiences in industry. Additionally, participants will learn about the case method through a mock case led by one of our faculty. We will be showing off not just the Darden Grounds but will be bringing participants and their guests to other parts of Charlottesville.
My favorite events that happen each year include one during our Love is Love Week, which usually occurs during the week of Valentine’s Day. Pride at Darden hosts a Drag Show featuring our very own students in Drag. I’m also excited for different events hosted during Gender Equity. Lastly, we hosted One Darden Diversity Week earlier this year and it featured some of the most thought provoking panels on topics including interracial relationships, class and culture shock experienced by our international students, among others.
What’s Your Favorite Eatery and Place to Hang Out in Cville?
As a foodie, this is a hard question to answer, but I would say it is a three-way tie between Doma Korean Restaurant, Al Carbon — known for their Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken — and Peter Chang’s China Grill. I enjoy going to the Charlottesville City Farmer’s Market each Saturday where I get my weekly dose of Filipino food at the Little Manila Food Truck and an iced cup of cafe con leche from Pearl Island, which focuses on Caribbean cuisine.
What do you enjoy spending time doing outside of your work with Diversity and Admissions?
When I’m not working with Admissions, I enjoy hanging with my little brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. I also love going to polo on Sundays at King Family Vineyards, and attending sporting events at UVA. Lastly, I also moonlight as the color guard instructor for the UVA Cavalier Marching Band, so you can find me on the field during halftime watching my squad perform at each home football game!
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