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Commitment To Diversity Award Essay

The Consortium’s mission is clear. We aim “to reduce the serious underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans” in business education and corporate leadership. We reinforce our commitment to that mission by asking Consortium applicants three questions:

  • What have you done pre-MBA in your business, academic or personal life to demonstrate commitment to this mission?
  • What will you do while enrolled in your MBA program to demonstrate your commitment to the mission?
  • What will you do post-MBA with respect to community service and leadership involvement to demonstrate your continued commitment to The Consortium’s mission of diversity and inclusion?

What do we mean by a “demonstrated commitment”? It’s a good question, because we take it very seriously. We outline that requirement on our website, so prospects know about it well before they apply. And we gauge applicants’ commitment through the mission support essay and membership recommendation.

It’s worthwhile to take a step back and try to explain what we mean by a “demonstrated commitment to diversity.”

1) It’s been our mission from the beginning.

The Consortium was established nearly 50 years ago to increase the representation of African American men in business education and corporate leadership. Over time, that mission has extended to women and members of traditionally underrepresented minorities such as Hispanic Americans and Native Americans.

There is a simple principle at work here: These groups of Americans have for generations been disadvantaged throughout countless examples in our history. The Consortium exists in part to create and expand opportunities for these groups and for like-minded corporations that value diversity among their leadership.

2) Consistent mission, expanded membership eligibility.

The phrase “underrepresented minority” is key to our mission, and it is widely recognized to include the core groups named in that mission: African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans. Yet, there are Asian Americans and Caucasian Americans—MBA prospects from a variety of ethnicities—who are Consortium members because they have demonstrated their commitment to driving diversity among our core communities.

By growing the ranks of corporate leaders who value diversity and inclusion—regardless of their own race or ethnicity—we drive The Consortium’s mission. Our members are not all African, Native or Hispanic Americans. But they all have demonstrated their commitment to diversity in a way that supports our mission.

3) We know “demonstrated commitment” when we see it.

Admission decisions are not built on a rigid algorithm. It’s not a strictly objective process, but our team operates within a common framework when we evaluate applicants’ answers to those three questions.

We’re looking for consistency: Have you shown an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion? We’re looking for longevity: Have you started something and followed through on it, or shown years of engagement on a related initiative? We’re looking for specificity: Can you describe, in detail, how your work has supported The Consortium’s mission? And we’re looking for how your recommendations back up your work.

4) All social justice work does not align with our mission.

We often hear from applicants who have been involved with organizations such as the Peace Corps. They have served impoverished or oppressed populations overseas. They want to improve their own education in order to return and better serve those populations. It is truly worthy, important work. Work that should and must be done. We have high regard for this sort of social justice work in the world.

But it’s not The Consortium’s mission. Our mission is specifically tailored to affect business education and corporate leadership for U.S. citizens or permanent residents. We certainly value and recognize other social justice work. Our focus must be on work that aligns with and drives our mission.

5) We encourage storytelling.

Tell us a story. How has this work been a part of the way you live your life? Do you actively work with organizations that serve the communities of underrepresented minorities? Have you created a program on your own? Talk about your work. Talk about results. Talk about your ongoing commitment. Be specific.

We love hearing stories from prospective members, describing why this mission is as dear to them as it is to us. In the end, we want members who are committed to working for the day when membership in an organization like ours will no longer be necessary.

Peter Aranda | December 9, 2015

The Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Student Writing Prize was conceived to:

  • Celebrate ideas expressed in student writing that exemplify the College’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism
  • Engage students in an intellectual discussion to help foster diversity and inclusion within all aspects of the College

Award Information

  • Up to $500 for an undergraduate student prize and up to $500 for a graduate student prize will be awarded
  • Entries are judged on their relevance to diversity and inclusion, and on the overall quality of the submission
  • Prize funds are applied directly to the student’s Western Michigan University account and as such may impact financial aid
  • Prize winners agree to allow posting of their submission on the College of Arts and Sciences website(s) and allow use of attributed excerpts in College promotional materials

All awards are subject to final budgetary approval and authorization by the College of Arts and Sciences dean's office.

Deadline

Feb. 15

  • This prize will be offered as long as funds are available
  • Applicants will be notified of the results within six weeks of the application deadline date
  • No late applications will be considered

Eligibility

  • Two types of submissions are accepted:
    • The submission may be from a currently enrolled Western Michigan University undergraduate or graduate student with a declared major, minor, or graduate program of study in the College of Arts and Sciences, OR
    • The submission may be an original writing assignment that the applicant has submitted for grade in a College of Arts and Sciences course during the Fall or Spring semester of the current academic year
  • Examples of eligible types of writing may include an essay, composition, short fiction or nonfiction, poetry, documentary, film script, website, blog or other academic or creative work
  • Writing should demonstrate excellence in themes related to diversity and inclusion. “Themes of diversity and inclusion involve the dimensions of race, ethnicity, and national and regional origins; sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation; socioeconomic status, age, physical attributes, and abilities; as well as religious, political, cultural, and intellectual ideologies and practices” (Western Michigan University’s Diversity and Multiculturalism Action Plan)
  • If the submission is in a foreign language, please include the original and an English translation

Application

Submit the following materials by the deadline. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

  1. Completed Student Application Cover Sheet
  2. A cover letter prepared according to the instructions on the cover sheet
  3. PDF of the submission if written in print form. A flash drive, hyperlink to, or DVD of the submission is acceptable for other forms.
  4. Completed Advisor or Instructor Verification Form

Submission

College of Arts and Sciences Office of the Dean:
coas-awards@wmich.edu

Students should submit the cover sheet, cover letter and the submission as a single PDF. The student's advisor or course instructor should separately submit the verification form. For all submissions, please put the award title (Diversity and Inclusion Student Writing Prize) and the student's name in the subject line of the email. Emails from WMU accounts may serve in place of signatures.

Questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the College of Arts and Sciences dean's office with any questions or concerns.