I started my first year at HBS a little over two months ago. Naturally, I was excited and nervous about being back in the classroom, surrounded by so many new faces. Within the first few days, I was quickly overwhelmed by the amount of work and number of events - both academic and social - that took over my calendar.

One of the many events that took place in those early days was the Student Club Fair, where students were given the opportunity to connect with and sign up for over 70 different clubs available on campus. I had my eyes set on joining the Latino Student Organization (LASO) - I was eager to befriend other Latinx students! Having been heavily involved in the Hispanic organization at Nielsen, where I worked before starting business school, I was also interested in supporting and contributing to the Hispanic population both on and off campus.

I made a beeline for the LASO booth and jotted down my name on the sign-up sheet. No more than two weeks later, I found myself in a car with four other club members anxiously driving to Cape Cod to take part in LASO’s fall retreat. I had no idea what to expect. At the very least, I was excited to get away for the weekend and meet new people. Little did I know that the retreat would have such a profound impact on my HBS experience.

After a bumper-to-bumper drive, we arrived at the house where we would be staying for the weekend, and I immediately felt at home - reggaeton music was blasting throughout the house, and people were busy making massive amounts of guacamole and spaghetti for dinner (interesting combo, I know). We kicked off the retreat with small group dinners. To my pleasant surprise, we were told to steer clear of topics related to our past and future careers. As a new business school student, those topics tend to dominate most conversations. That encouraged us to dive deeper right away and learn about each other’s families, passions, and personal goals.

My favorite part of the weekend was the MyTakes, a typical HBS activity where students share a part of their amazing background stories. I was blown away by the vulnerability and openness when several LASO members agreed to share their personal stories or read their admissions essays out loud. The MyTakes enabled us to find common ground and encouraged everyone to be their authentic selves. We spent the rest of the weekend playing board games, dancing like crazy, and getting to know each other even better. On Sunday, I was back on campus reading cases in the library feeling rejuvenated and with a full heart. 

A week after the retreat, we were asked to define what the LASO “familia” means to us via an Instagram post. I’ve captured a few of my personal favorite responses below. The LASO familia is...

  • A home away from home
  • A place where I can be myself, without having to think twice about covering or explaining any parts of my identity
  • A sense of belonging, camaraderie, and empowerment with like-minded individuals looking to change the world and push other Latinos forward

LASO retreat showed me that despite being completely new to HBS and Boston, I already had and always will have an HBS family. I am now constantly running into familiar faces on campus (something I did not think would happen for a long time!) and serving as a Co-Director of Admissions on the LASO board, helping expand the Latinx presence on campus. I know that I can always rely on this community to help me through good and bad times. I’m genuinely excited to continue to build these relationships and can’t wait to see how LASO evolves (and grows!) as a community over the next two years at HBS.