Rising Together: How My MLT Cohort Made a Lasting Impact at MIT Sloan
by Dela Gbordzoe
Dela Gbordzoe (MIT Sloan ‘19) didn’t think he belonged at MIT. A visit to the MIT Sloan campus with MLT’s MBA Prep class completely changed his mind, and opened him up to a world of possibilities. During two years he says he’ll never forget, Dela and other MLT Fellows worked hard to lift each other up, while also transforming Sloan’s campus culture.
February 9, 2016 and May 17, 2017: I’ll never forget those two dates. The former was the day I got into MLT, and the latter was the day I was admitted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.
When I joined MLT’s MBA Prep program, I understood it was an organization for successful people from diverse backgrounds, but I didn’t understand the magnitude of the program until the third seminar, which was hosted by Sloan and Harvard Business School. In the end, MLT provided me with the family that I didn’t know I needed.
Even before we met in person, my cohort and I bonded virtually in a GroupMe chat. Through attending seminars, studying in cohorts for countless hours, and staying up late to complete MLT homework, I formed deep connections with the people who are now my closest friends, and, coincidentally, many of whom ended up becoming classmates at Sloan.
My MLT Coach, Krista Giancarlo, in her wisdom, encouraged me to look at Sloan, a school I thought was unattainable. I didn’t think I belonged. When we visited Sloan’s campus for the third MBA Prep Seminar, however, I saw just how cool the students were. Whether it was listening to Ramon Gamble (Sloan ’17) talk about his internship at Kanye West’s record label, hearing Catherine Gillespie-Vargas (Sloan ’17) speak about why she decided to lead the Black Business Students Association, or watching Dr. Zeynep Ton’s lecture on the Good Jobs Strategy, I suddenly felt that Sloan could actually be the right place for me. There was something different about the opportunities students had at this school.
During my two years at Sloan, the MLT community’s bond was extremely strong. There were 20 MLTers in our class—the most Sloan had seen in one class by far. Both years, my roommates were MLTers, and we did a lot together as a group. We wanted to be game-changers, and I worked hard to do my part. I spent my first year exploring and diving into new experiences. I worked with classmates to co-found the Male Allies group, which engages management students to frame the challenges regarding gender equality. I also redesigned the website for Hack for Inclusion, and contributed to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference by coordinating media outreach and developing the podcast room for the event. In addition, I took an active leadership role in the Sloan Senate, working on the diversity and inclusion committee.
My MLT cohort was determined to have an immense imapct on Sloan.
My MLT cohort was determined to have an immense impact on Sloan. As a group, we were the driving force behind a new diversity and inclusion task force, we rallied for the election of the Sloan Senate Co-President (shout out to Ricardo Sutherland), and supported the first Black woman to lead the Sloan Sports Conference (shout out to Yesseña Brown). We supported each other every step of the way, and it manifested itself in our individual and collective successes. Jared Johnson and Xavier Vargas created cutting edge clothing startups. John Kendall created an education virtual reality startup. Andrew Mairena, Jason Molina, Aaron Stinnett, and Efe Gboneme and I led affinity groups. We basked in wins, comforted each other in losses, and celebrated life events together.
With the support of the school administration, we were able to increase the MLT and underrepresented minority presence at Sloan. We were thrilled to hear that Sloan will host an MLT seminar this year—the first time since they co-hosted my class in 2016. Looking back, that seminar at Sloan showed me there was so much more out there. I hope future Fellows have the same experience when they visit our wonderful campus.