This month, we interviewed Sana Mohammed and Triston Francis to learn about their time as Student Association Co-Presidents and what they’ll be carrying with them as they graduate in just a few months and pass on the torch to the Class of 2020.
What surprised you most while serving as SA Co-Presidents?
Triston: I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming level of support from peers who were willing to give their time to the Student Association as well as share their ideas. We feel as though tremendous strides were made this year in terms of bringing the HBS community together. Much of the impactful initiatives that we were able to do came from classmates who not only eagerly introduced great ideas, but also demonstrated a desire to execute on them. We were grateful to have a constant flow of ideas from classmates.
Sana: Similar to Triston, I am constantly blown away by the passion, persistence, and thoughtfulness of our classmates. Our team was formed from classmates coming to us with their ideas of how they’d like to serve the HBS community during the limited time we have here in school. It’s energizing to work with deeply committed and passionate people. Moreover, we’ve had many classmates who shown a great deal of thoughtfulness by reaching out to share gratitude for specific events or initiatives, which always means a lot to our team that is planning these initiatives. It is easy to become disillusioned when you cannot quantify the impact of your work, so thank you messages, whether they are in person or through email and text, really can serve as fuel and positive momentum to keep our team motivated!
Can you share a little about your interactions with the HBS staff and faculty during your time as Co-Presidents?
Triston: The administration has served as a tremendous partner throughout our time at HBS. Every time we have approached them with an idea, we have been met with the support we needed to accomplish our initiatives. It was also invaluable to have several members of the administration who have been at the School for a while and could provide a historical perspective around what initiatives have and have not worked in the past. There were scenarios where Sana and I would propose things that had been tried in the past and didn’t stick. In those instances, we were able to learn from the historical knowledge of the administration in order to improve upon the idea, in hopes of ensuring success this time around.
Sana: Working with and getting to know members of the staff and faculty at HBS has been one of my favorite parts of this role. HBS is quite an amazing place already, yet the staff and faculty are always working hard to continue to improve the student experience. There is always a willingness to listen, engage, and support. It’s quite inspiring to see how much hard work, ingenuity, and dedication from so many people it takes to serve the student body.
What are your hopes for the Class of 2020?
Triston: This year, the Student Association launched several new initiatives which helped bring classmates together. We hope that the Class of 2020 will build on these initiatives and develop new, creative ways to continue the legacy of fostering a cohesive, collaborative community at HBS. Things at HBS get accomplished through teamwork and the courage to introduce new, bold ideas. I hope that as the Class of 2020 takes the torch, they think as big as possible when it comes to how to mold our institution into the community that they would like it to be.
Sana: I hope the HBS experience is a catalyst for them to know themselves better. I hope it gives them the time and space to understand and define their dreams, to face their fears, and to accept themselves—their strengths and weaknesses—fully. I hope they leave with friendships that will last a lifetime. I hope that each person in the Class of 2020 leaves HBS with more love, gratitude, compassion, and wisdom than they walked in with.
What excites you about the future of HBS?
Triston: I am particularly excited to see how HBS integrates with the broader Harvard community, particularly with the opening of the Engineering School across the street from Harvard as well as the newly launched MS/MBA joint degree. I am continually impressed by HBS’s ability to remain competitive and relevant as the world around us constantly changes.
Sana: I am excited to see how the School continues to leverage the new building, Klarman. There’s a lot of opportunity to use the space to host in-person and digital speaker events for the entire HBS community that can contribute to the expansion of our knowledge. It’s also an incredible space to showcase the student body’s creative pursuits. I hope we can continue using the new building to enhance the student experience and build community on campus.
How will you carry this experience on as an alum?
Triston: Our HBS experience should not be defined solely by what we accomplished in our two years on campus. Far more important are the myriad of ways that each of our classmates will continue to interact with HBS and each other over the course of our lifetime. This is truly just the beginning. Wherever life takes me, I will carry with me the many cherished memories at HBS. My time as SA Co-President has given me a tremendous amount of opportunities to think creatively about how I can create more of a family feel amongst communities of which I am a part. I’ll look to have the same impact within the HBS alumni community as well as all other groups that I find myself within moving forward.
Sana: As a freshman in college, I never would have imagined I would be at Harvard. It’s not something I believed was an option. I built an artificial limitation in my own head of what I was capable of and what my future looked like because of my background, my gender, etc. It was through the help of countless individuals, friends and acquaintances, that I was able to tear down this narrative and even get the courage to truly chase my dream of coming to HBS. This experience has been life-changing, and I want to help others tear down their perceived limitations and chase their dreams as well. I also hope I can serve as a resource for other American Muslim women who aspire to develop a career in the business world.
Sana Mohammed (HBS ’19) worked in marketing and sales for a major energy company in her home state of Texas before coming to HBS. Outside of work, she mobilized her passion for community building and professional development by serving as the Director of Local Engagement for Muslim Urban Professionals, a global non-profit. This summer, she interned at an international hospitality startup called blueground developing their corporate sales strategy. At HBS, her love for community building brought her into the role of Student Association Co-President (2018–2019).
Triston Francis (HBS ’19) is from Jamaica, Queens, New York. He graduated from Wharton with majors in Finance, Legal Studies and Business Ethics. Prior to HBS, Triston worked at Morgan Stanley across Company Management, Human Resources, Investment Banking, and Sales & Trading. This summer, he interned with the Boston Consulting Group, and he will be joining their Singapore office full-time. Long-term, he has professional interests in being an Executive Coach and would like to one day return to HBS as a Professor. Triston’s love for HBS and desire to remain connected to this institution for a lifetime led him into the role of Student Association Co-President (2018–2019).