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Lauren Sandoval:

You may be wondering why did I go ahead and pursue my MBA? So there are a few reasons why, and there's actually three specifically. I'll start with the first.

The first reason was because I wanted to improve my business acumen. While I majored in business courses in undergrad, I didn't quite remember anything or retained anything that I have learned, which is pretty sad, but it's the truth. And so I felt that going back to school would enable me to relearn some concepts and overall just sharpen my business toolkit. That's reason number one.

Reason number two is more so about the network. Having grown up first gen and low income, I didn't really have a network, you could say. I mean, I know some people, but not really a network, not really folks that I could lean on for mentorship, guidance, business advice. And so I felt that, in going to a well-regarded MBA program, that I'd be able to expansively multiply that network tenfold perhaps, meet folks from all over the world, from all walks of life, and potentially help each other out. We'll see how that ends up going. But I have dreams of being an entrepreneur someday, and I think that having this network will definitely be helpful for that. So that was reason number two.

Reason number three is more alongside the lens of just social impact. And so given that I am a college graduate, and I come from the background that I come from, I felt that it was great to have the fact that I am a college graduate. But I also feel like I needed for an extra stamp, or a stamp of approval, if you will, in having an MBA degree, an extra layer of credibility, given that I am not just a woman but a woman of color. And it's just something that I feel is really, really important for me to have in terms of helping to influence others, to create impact, but also to some extent hopefully to be taken seriously in the workplace and things like that. So those are the three primary drivers for wanting to pursue an MBA in general.

And I applied to several schools, got some great news from several of them, and ultimately decided on HBS. So why HBS specifically? Oh, man, several reasons.

So I'll start with the first, and this one you might say it's a cop out, but it's so, so true. The people here are phenomenal. And I think when I first received my acceptance letter, I was a little skeptical. I wasn't sure who or what I would encounter at HBS. And I was extremely pleasantly surprised when I stepped foot here for admitted students weekend. I mean, the atmosphere was so, so warm. People were just extremely lovely to get to know. People wanted to get to know me and were willing to share their own stories. And that translated over into the actual MBA experience itself. My first year of school, I mean, just how vulnerable people let themselves be about the things that they'd gone through or the thoughts that they have percolating in their mind. It's just been absolutely incredible to get insight into these amazing people's lives. And I've developed really incredible friendships that I think I'll carry on for years and years to come. So people is definitely number one.

Number two, I would have to say the case method, for sure. The case method is definitely not super widely used among many business schools, but it's something that's just been part of HBS' heritage and HBS' teaching style since the beginning of its inception, really. And I think I found it quite effective in multiple courses. When I'm thinking through just some of the courses that I've taken over these past two years, leadership-- our leadership course called LEAD-- I mean, it was really, really amazing for the case style method in facilitating conversations among different section mates. So that's been fun.

The third reason-- this one's kind of practical-- but I really love that HBS is in its own kind of campus. And so you feel very well insulated and guarded from everything else kind of happening. It's like all the distractions of a big city are completely barred off. And so it's nice to be in a little bubble where it's just literally your classmates, the faculty, and staff. And it's like you're in your own little world for two years, which is pretty interesting and pretty fun.