This Thanksgiving week, I would like to thank those who attended the career discovery panel and workshop entitled “Uniquely You: Finding Your Professional Calling” that I organized and hosted this past Wednesday, 16 November 2016. I would also like to thank those who supported financially, logistically, and with words of encouragement. This event was the manifestation of two desires: (1) to help my Darden classmates, many of whom have voiced uncertainty about their post-MBA career plans, identify and pursue a meaningful career beyond simply repaying school loans; and (2) to expose the Darden community to broader diversity, not only of gender and cultural background, but also of thought and experience.

As we reflect on this past U.S. presidential election and all the lessons we have learned about leveraging diversity in Leading Organizations in Q1, the insights that many attendees walked away with and later shared with me would not have been possible without the stories shared by our exceptional guests.  First, the courageous journey of a woman and refugee from the Liberian civil war who experienced the highs and lows of banking from Goldman Sachs to a front-row seat during the collapse of Bear Stearns.  Second, the decision of a woman to walk away from a six-figure “dream job” to take on an MBA coaching role with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a non-profit diversity and professional development organization partnered with the top business schools and companies globally, while pursuing her passion for yoga and receiving a certification in mindfulness.  Finally, the path of a woman who overcame rejection after a seemingly successful internship at Google to cultivate a career in social media at NPR and become the voice of inspiration for female entrepreneurs through her podcast, Side Hustle Pro.

This Thanksgiving week, I hope we all can appreciate the diversity, in one form or another, that each of us brings to the Darden experience.

Wishing you all a warm and bountiful Thanksgiving!

Courtney Harris