For the fourth year in a row, Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management received The Consortium’s TEAM Trophy Award. Designed to generate healthy competition among member schools, foster collaboration among Consortium peers and demonstrate students’ commitment to The Consortium, the award is an affirmation that, Together, Everyone Achieves More (TEAM).
Even in a year plagued by uncertainty, Cornell students showed that anything is possible when you come together — even if only virtually.
“We all chose Cornell in part because of its close-knit community, and The Consortium family without a doubt contributes a great deal to that atmosphere,” said MBAs Evan Buchanan, Natalie Gonzalez and Jessica Bryson. “This was a challenging year on many different levels. Winning the TEAM Trophy Award is more than a trophy for us; it is a testament to the connections we’ve made with each other and our commitments to our MBA program.”
Consideration for the TEAM Trophy Award is given to member schools that secure 100 percent participation by both first- and second-year students in The Consortium’s First of Many and Class Gift giving campaigns; demonstrate community involvement, such as fundraising and volunteering; and report fulfillment of all Consortium liaison duties.
For Cornell students, these efforts are part and parcel of their enrollment at Johnson, where all incoming Consortium members are encouraged to sign a letter of commitment to support and uphold The Consortium and its mission. “We make sure everyone shows up,” says Jamie Joshua, director of Johnson’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “There’s an expectation.”
To hold students accountable, Joshua holds a “family meeting” for Consortium MBAs at the beginning and end of each semester to check in with students and to remind them of their commitments to both Johnson and The Consortium. “It’s just holding a mirror up to say, ‘This is who you said you wanted to be both in your Consortium letter and your Johnson admissions essay,” she says.
However, to truly get the work done, students rely on and support each other.
“We commit to the mission by committing to each other, spreading awareness throughout Johnson about the importance of diversity and representation and preparing the next class of students to do better than us,” the students said. “That is how we continue to grow.”
While Joshua says garnering 100 percent participation in The Consortium’s giving campaigns is not always easy, it is not because of a lack of desire to give back. As full-time MBAs, students get busy and often need a reminder. On top of this, she says 2021 presented some additional challenges. “In person, we can kind of chase people down,” says Joshua. “Virtually, that was a little bit of a challenge.”
But with a little push, she says students are almost always willing and able to give back to the organization that has given so much to them.
“I always tell them, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ This is an organization that has put together not just OP, but got you in front of a ton of corporate recruiters,” says Joshua. “The Consortium has worked hard to support you, and if you can give even $5 to support them, that would be amazing.”
When it came to Consortium liaisons fulfilling their duties, Johnson liaisons continued to do the work in 2021, bringing their cohort together through virtual events and creating a GroupMe to stay connected, despite the physical distance caused by the pandemic.
“Everyone really wanted to make the best of our circumstances, and that meant not holding back when it came to supporting each other through recruiting and classes and stepping up to be leaders across the program,” the students said. “Having the class of 2021 as mentors and friends also helped build camaraderie and keep traditions alive.”
Johnson’s Consortium cohort also dedicated many hours over the last year to getting involved in and giving back to their campus and local communities. As in past years, students partnered with The Learning Web, raising funds and collecting gently used professional attire for the organization. They also worked with the organization INROADS to prepare underrepresented, first-generation and low-income undergraduates for professional interviews, as well as volunteered their time to make face masks and raised $6,000 for PPE for medical workers.
A 2021 graduate of Johnson and Consortium alumna, Joyelle Fleming led an initiative, along with Bryson, to “tackle the sometimes taboo topic of periods” and inform people “about the lack of access to sanitary products that many womxn face,” Fleming says. This two-part initiative included a week-long sanitary product drive and a screening of the documentary Period. End of Sentence., which highlights an Indian entrepreneur who created a pad-making machine that produces cheaper and more easily accessible pads.
“We raised more than $230, which allowed us to purchase 360 pads and tampons that we donated to the St. John’s Shelter of Ithaca,” says Fleming. “We purchased the items from a company called Cora, which donates sanitary products to womxn in India, Kenya and the USA. Since we purchased 360 items from them, they donated 360 products to the above demographic. By providing sanitary products to womxn in need, it allows them to have one less barrier to continuing their education.”
Additionally, Jeremy Mathurin, a Consortium liaison and president of the class of 2022’s Community Impact Club, led the club in raising nearly $14,000 through its annual Impact Auction. Members of the club collected donations from faculty, staff, students and local businesses and auctioned off the items via a virtual platform. The club donated 50 percent of the proceeds to Black Hands Universal to support its anti-racial agenda in the community, with a focus on job placement and skills training, financial literacy, mental health resources and educational resources. The other half of the funds went to Ithaca Youth Bureau Summer Camps — an organization that helps kids socialize through summer camps — to help youth, families and staff explore their feelings, challenge their beliefs, learn and find their voice around topics such as structural racism, discrimination, implicit bias and social justice.
Although these efforts were led by the students themselves, they were sure to give credit where credit is due. “We cannot acknowledge our success without acknowledging our incredible support system composed of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Admissions and Career Services,” they said. “They are the constant that keeps the Cornell Consortium strong year after year.”
The glue that holds the Cornell Consortium family together, however, is a common goal to advance The Consortium’s mission.
“Upholding The Consortium’s mission is vital to the success of the organization nationally and at each school,” the students said. “Here at Cornell Johnson, we feel we must be exemplary in regards to the mission to succeed both in the classroom and the workplace, while maintaining a warm community here on campus.”