While it’s true that students come to HBS to develop their leadership skills and learn the fundamentals of general management, what they take away tends to be so much more.

When we interview students and alums for this blog, we hear time and again what students value most are the people they’ve met and the friendships they’ve formed at HBS. Each year we bring together over 900 diverse people from all over the world – all of whom are invested in becoming leaders and making some kind of difference in the world. During their time at HBS students are exposed to new cultures, new ideas, new ways of seeing the world, and people they otherwise never would have had the opportunity to meet.

Understanding that community is formed when we become aware of each other’s stories, the Joint Committee on Diversity (JCD) launched the “MyTake” program at HBS a few years ago. We recently caught up with Henry Spear (MBA 2015), a former member of the JCD, who oversaw much of last year’s programming.

What is a MyTake?

A MyTake is a student-run event that allows two to four students to share personal stories that you may not hear about in the classroom. Students are nominated by their peers to speak at MyTakes, and the JCD ultimately selects and helps coach those students prepare to tell their story in front of an auditorium full of their peers. We had 10 MyTakes in the 2014-2015 school year. They happen at least once a month, and also around special events such as Admitted Student Welcome and BRIDGES.

Why do you think MyTakes are an important part of HBS culture?

Everyone at HBS talks about getting to know fellow students as one of the best parts of the experience, and I definitely echo that sentiment, however, it's hard to get to know everyone here. What we really tried to do with the MyTakes this past year was to select students with a diverse array of stories and experiences. Our hope was to allow audience members to find something relevant for them in the student talks.

What have you learned about your classmates during MyTakes?

Some of the stories have been truly unbelievable: from hearing about the conditions in which students grew up, to hardships they've faced, to things they've invented and business they've started, to academic and athletic achievements I had no idea about. That's the best part about MyTakes: no two are ever the same.

Can you share something from one of your favorite MyTakes with us?

Of course! While some are quite private, we have some really outstanding stories that I can't help but share. One of my classmates told a story of how her high school track and field coach really pushed and inspired her to overcome obstacles she and her family were facing. She used this as motivation to ultimately go into education, and after HBS is actually starting her own charter school.