02 Feb 2022

2021 RISE Fellow: Nashae Roundtree (MBA 2023)


by Shona Simkin

This fall, as part of the Harvard Business School (HBS) Action Plan for Advancing Racial Equity, 20 MBA students were selected as the inaugural recipients of the Recognizing Individuals Seeking Equity (RISE) Fellowship. The fellows were chosen for their demonstrated commitment to serving Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and other marginalized communities of color within the US prior to enrolling at HBS.

The 2021 RISE fellows are MBA Class of 2023’s Adan Acevedo, Jerome Fulton Jr, Amari Griffin, Tarebi John, Zoe Matthew, Alejandro Molina, Ted Obi, Chidalu Onyenso, Lanita Patton, Nashae Roundtree, David Velasquez, Mireille Verdonk; and MBA Class of 2022’s Siham Adous, Aaron Hancock, Brian Hollins, Diego Salas, Devon Sandford, Lucas Santos, Xonana Scrubb, and Tracey Thompson.

Nashae Roundtree (MBA 2023)

Throughout her undergraduate education, professional career, and now her first year at HBS, Nashae Roundtree (MBA 2023) has pursued her passion for the underserved, seeking connection with communities from her past and present.

As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Roundtree was an ambassador for Illinois Promise, a scholarship awarded to first-generation college students with household incomes below the federal poverty line, approximately 60 percent of whom were underrepresented minorities. She served on their advisory board and planned community-building events to help the scholars adjust to college and professional life.

However, she still felt disconnected from the marginalized lower-income communities nearby. So, she founded her own student organization, Connect. Every week for two years, she and fellow students carpooled into Chicago to mentor more than 300 African American and Hispanic high school students lacking college networks and exposure.

“I struggled to balance my personal life and my career because of the impact that socioeconomic inequality has on my family,” said Roundtree. “I grew up in a low-income home, which drives my passion to leverage my privilege in the organizations and entities I’m a part of to multiply opportunities and access for others.”

In previous roles at Goldman Sachs, Roundtree initiated conversations, activities, and affinity groups to engage her colleagues at all levels of the organization in racial and socio-economic equity work and awareness. Outside the company, she served as membership chair of the Chicago Urban League, creating professional opportunities and support networks for over 150 members of color. Last spring, she was admitted into two accelerators in 1871, a startup incubator aiming to tackle underemployment by developing a coding education platform for members from disadvantaged communities.

Now, as a first year MBA student, Roundtree is on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, co-president of the First-Gen Club, member of the socioeconomic task force, and is working part-time for CitySwing, a start-up aiming to make golf accessible and inclusive. She has her eyes set on a consulting role after graduation to apply her newfound skills and experience toward a better understanding of how different industries affect racial equity and underserved communities. She’ll then take that knowledge and start her own ventures to help increase equal access to education, housing, employment, and healthcare.

“My mother always says, ‘To whom much is given, much will be required.’ I plan to always be active in organizations inside and outside of work to support marginalized communities,” said Roundtree. “I’m always looking for ways to redistribute resources to create access and opportunities, whether it's improving existing organizations that support racial equity, improving career recruitment and promotion pipelines within companies, or leveraging corporate social responsibility to improve the communities that often get overlooked. My vision is that if everyone who cares about social equity takes one step to make some component better, then our collective efforts will create a better world, so I just strive to always move the needle one step further myself.”

Read the profiles of all eight RISE fellows.

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