When the email arrived – “HBS SVMP Decision Available Online” – it caught me by surprise. I took a breath and read the message: Accepted! As I planned my trip to attend HBS’s Summer Venture in Management Program, I saw scenes of Cambridge rolling like a film in my mind’s eye: discussing case studies with vigor and enthusiasm in the dorm common areas; receiving the infamous “HBS cold call” from Professor Anita Elberse, or worse, from Lebron James, Beyoncé, LL Cool J, or the many other case protagonists she likes to “bring to life”; dashing with my classmates to make it to breakfast and morning discussion groups; and trading stories of life experiences and sidesplitting tales of professional gaffes in the HBS courtyard. Whatever awaited me at Harvard Business School, I thought, would be unforgettable.

The SVMP Class of 2022 met each other for the first time in the classrooms of Aldrich Hall. As we streamed through the entrance, a few conversations began around the room with an extended hand and a smile. “What school do you go to?” (Bowie State University, the University of Houston, Princeton University, Morehouse College, Florida State University, and Spelman College were some of the replies.) The diversity represented in the room was stunning – these were students of many identities, academic backgrounds, and interests. “Where are you interning this summer?” (Google, CapitalOne, McKinsey, LinkedIn, Universal Music Group, Goldman Sachs, startups, family businesses, and organizations of all kinds.) Soon the room was enveloped by a steady buzz of eager discussion. The voices of Professor Anita Elberse and Admissions Officer Angela Gibbons-Williams cut through all the others: “Welcome to the 40th year of the Summer Venture in Management Program! Get ready for a life-changing experience.”

Above all, the experiences that were most meaningful to our SVMP class happened in the classrooms of Aldrich Hall. There was something much deeper than just the beautiful classrooms. If I had to put my finger on it, it was the magic of the case method. It was that the stories each of us represented were being translated into perspective in those classrooms. We discovered that what we had lived through and learned over life could be vitally important to solving urgent business problems. The case method taught us that critical moments don’t always wait for us to neatly gather our thoughts or thumb through our notes. Instead, they demand that we courageously present ourselves, right now, as the right people to solve a problem.

All around the room, my classmates used their perspectives to imbue the case studies with meaning. When deciding if LiveNation should take on a risky concert (the "Live Nation and Pharrell Williams" case), one classmate related her experience using the power of music to unite fractured communities and touch lives in a metropolitan city. When discussing the role of entrepreneurship and venture capital in the development of Africa (the "Harambe: Mobilizing Capital in Africa" case), I reflected upon my experiences being the grandson of an African political revolutionary and giving two TED talks by the age of 20 to underscore the importance of empowering young leaders who want to change the world around them with bold ideas.

The Summer Venture in Management Program introduced us to the 113-year tradition of leadership that epitomizes the Harvard Business School MBA. Through the relationships we forged and the perspectives we contributed within the classroom, SVMP was truly an unforgettable experience.