I received my acceptance letter on July 20th, 2020. As I sit here and try to rack my brain to remember the feelings I had when I received the decision letter, it feels almost impossible. I know I’m speaking to the choir when I say how out of this world 2020 was. In June, we were at the height of the pandemic, still sanitizing our groceries with Clorox wipes and trying to wrap our brains around this new way of life. I was spending all my time in my studio apartment in Berkeley, California, having recently lost my job due to the pandemic like many others. Around that same time, in May, the whole world witnessed such horrific police brutality, leading many of us to the streets in response. With the world on lockdown, everything seemed to be falling apart, but we finally had a moment to reckon with and question many of the injustices around us.
I applied to Heller because I wanted to be part of an institution where social justice was front and center. A place where I could be with peers who were driven and persistent about challenging systems and influencing change. The Social Impact MBA program felt ideal to me for two reasons: 1) I wanted to learn what it would look like to influence business to be more accountable to our society and 2) more practically, I knew I needed the hard skills that would position me to take on the management and leadership positions I sought after.
With Heller operating remotely and so much uncertainty looming, my decision to join felt a lot more challenging than I hoped when I applied. When I thought about graduate school, I imagined being in community with other students, with faculty and professors. I imagined study sessions with classmates, being in a large lecture hall and the buzz of being in a place like Zinner forum where students share ideas and meals together. I knew that I wanted to be at Heller, but I was afraid that learning remotely just wasn’t going to fulfill me. I had to make a decision soon.
As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I knew that I had a strong network of peers who I could lean on to help me with my decision. Many were completing their degrees remotely at the time and had first hand experience. Though they spoke of the flexibility afforded to them by Heller, they also spoke of the challenges of not being amongst other students and with community. With that in mind, I chose to defer and start my degree in 2021, a decision that I’m so glad I chose.