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Consortium students Colleen Thomas (UCLA '17) and Brandon Shields (Wisconsin '17) come from different backgrounds, attend different schools, and share a common commitment.

Schools spotlight 2 Consortium students committed to diversity message

Consortium students Colleen Thomas and Brandon Shields have very different backgrounds in very different programs — but share a common commitment

Two Consortium member schools recently shared stories of Consortium students with very different backgrounds, from very different parts of the world. Yet they share a common vision of what diversity means and a commitment to building diversity in their programs and beyond.

“I can’t even think of many minorities with MBAs that I met before this,” Brandon Shields, in the class of 2017 at the University of Wisconsin. “I can think of black lawyers and black doctors that I’ve met in my life, but MBAs? No. It really is an underrepresented degree within the underrepresented minority community.”

The Marine veteran served in Afghanistan from 2012 to 2013. He told his story in the Wisconsin School of Business blog on July 12.

A Positive to Standing Alone

Meanwhile, the University of California, Los Angeles, highlighted class of 2017 student Colleen Thomas, a Chicago native who was the only black women in her Catholic high school.

“I knew there were times when I would be the only black female. Sometimes there is a positive to being the only one. Your opinion can be heard,” Thomas said in a two-minute video UCLA shared last week on its blog. (See the video below.)

Thomas started in the entrepreneur program at UCLA. She founded an online travel agency that targets low- and mid-income communities as part of her studies. She’s working this summer at Accenture Strategy in Chicago.

“I think consulting is a great opportunity to gain some of those skill sets that I could later apply to an entrepreneurial venture,” she said.

Focusing on Veterans

Shields worked in DuPont’s Management Leadership Development Program this summer on new product development, assessing the market, making site visits, and making a launch recommendation. He specializes in brand and product management.

He also works part-time in the Wisconsin School of Business’s full-time MBA admissions office. His focus is on helping to recruit more veterans into the program. “Companies know what veterans bring to the table,” Shields said. “And I want to make sure every veteran who is capable realizes that as well.”

Thomas works to make sure her colleagues at school and beyond understand the importance of not only diversity in race and background, but diversity of thought.

“We have different ideas of what the world should look like. I have to learn from you as much as you have to learn from me,” she said. “Black culture isn’t just for black people. Black culture touches global markets.”

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