Representation Matters: Embracing Hispanic Heritage Month At Stanford GSB

The five co-presidents of Stanford Graduate Business School’s Hispanic Business Students Association are, from left, Stephanie Grayson, Omar Garza, Katy Honda, Ricardo Rosales and Mario Del Cueto.

In English, adelante translates to “forward” or “ahead.” For many Hispanic families, the word encompasses a larger conceptual meaning: The generations to come will have it better than those that came before.

“It is something you often hear as part of the immigrant narrative. But, it’s something that doesn’t have to be purely generational,” Stephanie Grayson tells Poets&Quants. “We are looking at it from a position of pride, responsibility and privilege that we are at this incredible place called the GSB (Stanford Graduate School of Business). We have a commitment towards taking this opportunity and paying it forward, to honor those who did the same on our behalf and who are part of the reason why we are here.”

Stephanie Grayson

Grayson is a proud Cuban American, born and raised in New York. She is a second-year MBA and co-president of the Hispanic Business Association (HBSA) at Stanford GSB. She previously worked in real estate private equity, and is now starting a company with a GSB co-founder. 

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 through October 15, Grayson and other Stanford HBSA members are raising their voices to both celebrate their own Hispanic heritage while lifting up the experiences of others.

For Grayson, it’s about creating a culture of championship from one GSB class to the next.

“It’s really powerful when you think about how impactful championship is in business leadership, and how when you look at professional ecosystems, there is less diversity at the top,” she says. “When you think about championing for those who are coming up through the ranks, it can be difficult when you don’t see people who look like you.” 

HISPANIC REPRESENTATION AT B-SCHOOLS

Despite recent efforts and attention, the fact remains that the percentage of Hispanic and other underrepresented minority students at top business schools lags the percentages represented in the U.S. population at large.

Omar Garza, MBA ’22

For the first time this year, Bloomberg Businessweek added a diversity index to its annual ranking of the top MBA programs, and Stanford GSB reported 5% Hispanic students compared to 18% of Hispanics represented in the U.S. population at large. Stanford ranked 16th for diversity compared to other MBA programs, though it was ranked first overall in the Bloomberg ranking. In fact, none of the top 25 schools from Poets&Quants rankings reached the 18% threshold for Hispanics and fewer than half had more than 9% Hispanic students, half as much as the U.S. population overall.  

Representation matters, particularly in business, and is something the HBSA hopes to highlight this month, says Omar Garza, a second-year MBA and a co-president of the association.

“Diversity of people brings diversity of thought. Diversity of thought helps businesses analyze problems from a wider set of angles,” says Garza, a Mexican American who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and moved to the United States in high school. “I think at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily diversity for the sake of diversity, but I think there’s a value proposition that’s going to be tangible for the company.”

CREATING ‘LA FAMILIA’ 

The mission of the HBSA is to foster community for Hispanic and Latino business students across the Stanford campus and in the community at large. Hispanic Heritage Month provides an excuse to highlight its programs and activities, but it works on these issues throughout the year.

Mario Del Cueto, MBA ’22

“The word that comes to mind is inclusivity. When you think about the term ‘Hispanic,’ it incorporates a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures and costumes, and that is true as well for the degree to which MBA students here identify with that background,” says Mario Del Cueto, a Cuban American born and raised in Los Angeles. 

Everyone has a different sense of what it means to be Hispanic. For example, one of Del Cueto’s parents is Hispanic, the other is white. Some members of HBSA moved to the United States as children or young adults, others were born here. They trace their roots to different countries, regions and cultures. Some are quite connected to the Hispanic community, others are exploring their heritage for the first time.

“I see the HBSA as providing an inclusive home for all who want to identify with or learn more about Hispanic experiences in a welcoming, comforting la familia,” Del Cueto tells P&Q.

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH AT GSB

All month long, the HBSA will host events to raise Hispanic voices and highlight their varied experiences. They hope to show other Hispanic students and aspiring MBAs that there is place for them at GSB while also demonstrating how important this time of year is for their community. Some of their HHM initiatives include:

  • Working with administration to publish MBA profiles on the GSB website and social media, “MBAs Answer the Question: ‘What Does Hispanic Heritage Month Mean to You?’” 
  • Extending the la familia concept of community to create smaller groups within the HBSA in which second-year MBAs will be able to mentor first-year MBAs who will then get the chance to mentor the incoming MBAs next year. They also want to involve alumni and members of the Hispanic business community to help build a culture of championship from class to class.
  • Fostering the community beyond business school to the Hispanic community across the Stanford campus, including working with leaders of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and Stanford Latinx Law Students Association (SLLSA).

In honor of the month, Poets&Quants profiled six HBSA members. You can read the profiles on the following pages. 

It’s all part of the never-ending pursuit of adelante, the act of always moving forward, reaching for the American dream promised to all of us, immigrants and native-born alike.

“I want to underscore that the dream is not yet achieved,” Del Cueto says. “There is this onus on all of us to continue pushing forward and paving the way for others to continue pursuing their own dreams and journeys.”

Click through to read profiles of members of the GSB Hispanic Business Student Association.

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