This year marks the 30th anniversary that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has been observed as an official federal holiday to remember his legacy and reflect on racial equality and nonviolent social change.
Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
It’s a question that comes up quite often for Aria Florant, WG’16, President of the African-American MBA Association (AAMBAA).
“‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ That’s really what drives me to use this degree as best as I possibly can,” she said. “I want to excel so I can create more opportunities for as many people as possible.”
“As business school students, too often we think about the private sector as being in a bubble, but business leaders can have a huge impact on the direction that society moves. We need to think about what we as Wharton students and future business leaders can do to improve societal conditions.”
AAMBAA provides many opportunities throughout the year for students to do just that.
The group has hosted several town hall discussions to encourage open dialogue about racial equality and social justice, and just recently teamed up with several other affinity groups on campus to form the Return on Equality Coalition.
“Together, we’re increasing Wharton’s efforts to support students and teach them to lead across lines of difference,” Florant says. “If we’re going to be good leaders, we need to know how we can create workplaces that allow people to be their whole selves.”
AAMBAA also strives to create opportunities for economic empowerment of minorities. Every year, they host one of the largest student-run African-American business conferences in the country, the Whitney M. Young Conference.
The event honors the memory of a close colleague of Dr. King’s — Whitney M. Young, a fierce civil rights advocate who created many opportunities for African-Americans in business.
“Whether I’m prepping for interviews or applying for a position or even going to vote — I’m always reminded of how many people worked tirelessly to open these doors for me,” Aria said.
“I think about these things all the time, but they’ll weigh heavily on me Monday,” she says. “Especially in grad school, when things are moving a mile a minute, every chance to pause and think about how we got here and where we go from here is helpful.”
— Colleen Mullarkey
Posted: January 18, 2016