Student leaders redesign GO! Week—for students

  • August 16, 2018
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

What’s student government for, anyway? What’s the fun in introducing pseudo-political squabbles and contextually overrated power grabs?

Angela-Lu-GBSA-headshot.jpgThe Graduate Business Student Association exists to improve the MBA student experience. Our guiding mission is to continuously improve the two-year journey so each cohort discovers more value than the one before. Well, what better way to do so than to start from the very beginning—and redesign new student orientation?

Meredith Owen led a team to completely revamp the Gateway Olin (GO!) experience for the Class of 2020 over the course of the summer. Let’s catch up with how that process went!

Your team had less than four months to completely overhaul GO! Week as we—the Class of 2019—experienced it. Can you walk us through this intensive project?

HS26717-1.jpgAlong with two members of GBSA senate—Jin Hwang and Ony Mgbeahurike—and vice president of international student affairs, Ashish Joy, I started by collecting feedback on past GO! Weeks from our peers. Instead of sending out yet another electronic survey, we set up a table with coffee and doughnuts and spent a week gathering in-depth responses from our passionate Class of 2019 classmates. (We had a 60 percent participation rate!)

We then pored over the feedback and formed six main categories of GO! Week activities: academic courses, professional development, celebrating culture, social activities, team-building exercises, and education around diversity and inclusion. We individually researched strategies on how best to improve the experience in each category based on the student feedback. It was a priority for us to weave GBSA’s strategic goals—Increasing Olin Pride, Connectivity, and Accountability—as well as the five Olin values into each activity of the two-week official orientation.

Over the course of the summer months, we worked closely with different administrative bodies on campus, including the Olin dean’s office, graduate programs office, the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and the Olin Partners Association.

Brief us on some of the cool new aspects the team introduced to GO! Week.

Some of the core updates from the past GO! Programming include:

  • A history-themed bus tour of St. Louis;
  • A series of “diversity in the workforce” sessions hosted by Mastercard;
  • An “unconscious bias” session hosted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion;
  • Cultural agility sessions orchestrated by Judy Shen-Filerman;
  • Culturally themed lunches (one for each day).

We also made a special effort to more proactively involve students’ partners as part of orientation. We added a family-friendly meet-and-greet, and invited international students’ partners to the first day to become more acquainted with St. Louis and its resources.

Let’s hear from everyone on the team! What are your thoughts on this GO! Week project now?

Jin Hwang: “I wanted to find a way to welcome our first-year classmates and the GO! Week Initiative was a good way to do that. Also, I found more school spirit within myself by doing this. I am thankful to have been part of the team to have an opportunity to welcome the Class of 2020!”

Ony Mgbeahurike: “It was truly gratifying to have the freedom to introduce new activities, such as culturally themed days with lunches showcasing cuisines from different regions, and a diversity and inclusion panel with Mastercard employees that highlights the importance of diversity within business. Getting such extensive support from administration for these changes really topped the experience for me.”

Ashish Joy: “The best part for me was getting the opportunity to showcase the cultural diversity at Olin through the GO! Program.”

Meredith Owen: “Working on the GO! Week Initiative has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me thus far in the MBA program. We were able to truly shape the GO! experience for our incoming classmates thanks to the receptive Olin administration team. Our ability to offer input and work on such a personal level with the administration at Olin is extremely rewarding.”

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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