Hello world! Please change me in Site Preferences -> This Category/Section -> Lower Description Bar


Mar 2018

ROMBA Fellow Awarded Sands Family Social Venturing Fellowship

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

In November of last year, ROMBA Fellow and 2018 ROMBA Conference Leadership Team member Kevin Deese (University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management MBA ’19) was awarded the Sands Family Social Venturing Fellowship which supports a select number of Carlson students to develop their ideas for improving local communities. The Fellowship was founded by Bill & Susan Sands, graduates of the university who dedicated their lives to making the Twin Cities a better community. To date, the Sands Fellows have launched more than a dozen businesses to support workforce training for disadvantaged groups, affordable housing, medical devices designed for youth market, and a broad range of social venture.

How did you first hear about the Fellowship? What made you decide to submit a proposal?
There was a presentation during orientation that discussed the Fellowship. I didn’t have any ideas for a project at the time, but the presentation from Bill and Susan Sands and the current Fellows was really eye-opening. It was easily the best day of orientation for me – at the time I was wondering if I had made the right choice in going to business school, wondering if I would find purpose in my career choice, etc. The Sandses’ presentation made me excited about my decision to pursue an MBA because I knew that there was tremendous support at Carlson for people who wanted to figure out how to use their MBA in service to communities who need it most. It was during that session during orientation that I began to think about theissues I care about and could work to address. It didn’t take long for me to decide that the community I most wanted to serve is one that is my own: the community of people living with HIV (PLWH).

The ROMBA Fellowship also really spurred me to take on this project. Being named a ROMBA Fellow meant that I was recognized for having leadership qualities that could be used to promote equality and fair treatment of the LGBT community, and as I think we all know, there is great overlap between the LGBT and HIV+ communities. The support from Carlson and Reaching Out MBA put at the forefront of my mind my ability and responsibility to advocate for myself and others, especially within groups to which I belong. This is about giving back to other members of my community who are not as fortunate or privileged as I have been. Between the ROMBA Fellowship and this opportunity with the Sands Fellowship, I felt called to action to address an issue of concern to the HIV+ community.

What issue does your venture seek to address?
My venture with the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) is called “People Working with HIV” and is aimed at increasing access to employment resources and opportunities among PLWH in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. HIV research and medicine has made a lot of progress since the AIDS Crisis: people are aware of what it is now, and treatments can positively impact the lives of those diagnosed – yet the epidemic persists nevertheless. Moreover,there is great disparity in HIV statistics; in addition to disparities in race/ethnicity and sexual orientation of PLWH, analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that HIV disproportionately impacts economically disadvantaged communities in the United States.

My thinking on this point led me to pursuing the idea of leveraging employment as a tool for upward mobility in the HIV+ community. Further research in the topic revealed another potential benefit of this approach, illustrated by the following two concepts that numerous studies have shown:
-People living with HIV are at a higher risk for low levels of physical and mental health, and
-Employment is positively correlated to higher levels of physical and mental health

By boosting employment in the HIV+ community, we hope to drive not just upward mobility, but improved physical and mental health. We’re currently working on what our exact methods will be by interviewing MAP’s case managers and clients to discover their needs, researching the successful approaches that other cities have taken, and connecting both with organizations who specialize in workforce development and job training as well as with potential corporate partners who could benefit from tapping into this underemployed community to address their own workforce shortages and concerns.

How will you utilize your LGBTQ MBA and local community?
I’m doing my best to leverage the connections that Carlson is helping me make. I’ve been connected with some incredible folks who work in both HIV/AIDS service organizations and in workforce development. Minnesota is not only the “Land of 10,000 Lakes;” it’s also referred to in jest as the “Land of 10,000 Nonprofits” – so there’s a plethora of helpful professionals who are only too willing to share with me their experiences and resources. I hope that thisproject will have a large impact on the state, since 81% of Minnesotans living with HIV as of 2016 reside in the Twin Cities metro area. With such a high concentration of the state’s HIV+ community in one place, I’m hoping for this work to make a major impact on what living and working with HIV looks like in Minnesota. Additionally, working directly with MAP’s staff allows me to better understand how the organization’s resources are used by the community – and tailor our program around how the organization already delivers other services successfully. I’m also connecting a great deal with other HIV advocates and pushing for our issues to be prioritized through our political system: I just returned from AIDSWatch, and annual conference and lobbying event in Washington, D.C., where HIV advocates gather to network and to lobby our representatives to more actively take up the fight to end HIV/AIDS.

I’ll also be intentional in connecting with local and national LGBTQ and allied business leaders at the 2018 ROMBA Conference – here in Minneapolis, October 4-6! – to gain their buy-in and partnership. At the end of the day, it’s my hope that this project will help to change the lives and outlooks of people living with HIV here in Minnesota, and perhaps beyond.


Please select the social network you want to share this page with:


Dec 2017

LGBTQ MBA Admissions Webinars This Week!

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

Are you an LGBTQ considering going to business school for your MBA?  If you are then you are in luck as two of our partner schools are hosting webinars with their admissions staff & LGBTQ clubs:

December 6, 1-2pm ET

Join us to learn more about the Ross MBA experience from members of Ross Out For Business LGBTQA community. We’ll briefly highlight what differentiates Michigan Ross and provide an opportunity for students to talk with admissions staff and current MBA students.

Register here 


December 7, 5-6pm ET

Join us for this webinar hosted by USC Marshall MBA Admissions and Marshall Pride to learn more about the Full Time or MBA.PM (Part-time) student experience at the USC Marshall School of Business. Come prepared to ask questions of our current student panelists!

 Register here

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:


Nov 2017

Meet the LGBTQ MBA Fellows: Yang Zhang

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBTQ mentors, digital programming, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.  Since the inception of the ROMBA Fellowship 129 students have received over US$6.2M in scholarship support from participating schools.

This fall Reaching Out welcomed the third class of the ROMBA Fellows. These 56 fellows come from 35 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.

41 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2017-2018 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.


Born and raised in Northwest China, Yang moved to Eastern China where he attended pharmacy school. After obtained his Bachelor of Medicine, he accepted full scholarships to pursue a master’s degree in pharmaceutics at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Upon graduating from Duquesne in 2014, Yang headed to Tenseness to join the Department of Pathology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Working as a biomedical scientist during his time there, Yang came to realize that current technology falls short of the clinical needs. For this reason, he is convinced that accelerating the conversion of new technologies to commercialized clinical products is imperative. After spending three years at St. Jude, he decided to change his career focus from biomedical research to the development and commercialization of new technology by pursuing an MBA. Yang is excited about joining the Class of 2019 at Vanderbilt Owen with a focus on finance and strategy. He is also a tennis enthusiast and an amateur painter.

What made you consider business school?
The career change I am making is so significant, from biomedical research to financial services, that I need a place where I could take a step back to focus on the bigger picture and become well-rounded. I cannot think of a better way to accomplish this than going to business school. I hope an MBA will help me leverage my academic credentials and financial skills to play a more business-oriented and client-facing role. I also come to business school to meet more liked-minded people. I believe the two years I am about to spend at Owen will be the most amazing time of my life.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
Flexibility. I enjoy taking control of my own time. I tend to be more productive and creative when I have the flexibility of hitting the gym, having a nice breakfast and taking a nap whenever I feel I need to. I also really look forward to going on many trips with my classmates. We are all young, energetic and adventurous. What is going to be more fun than traveling together!

Who are some of the leaders (in the LGBTQ community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?
I find many athletes very inspiring. Some top athletes are extremely successful both in sports and business world, such as William sisters, Maria Sharapova (did I mention that I am a tennis fan?), Lewis Howes and Lebron James.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
If you’re a foodie, we will get along just fine.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with: