As the Thanksgiving Holiday approaches, I couldn’t help but start to think about all the things I am thankful for. After an incredibly inspirational day with Section C, many of these things came to light.
First, we were fortunate to have two Summer Search students visit our class, as well as one Summer Search alumni who is now an HBS applicant. Summer Search’s mission is “to find resilient low-income high-school students and inspire them to become responsible and altruistic leaders by providing year-round mentoring, life-changing summer experiences, college advising, and a lasting support network.” As part of the program, each section in the Class of 2007 welcomed a few Summer Search students to visit a class and join the group for lunch. The students each presented a brief personal introduction and fielded questions from HBSers. It was truly inspiring to hear their stories and the obstacles they have overcome. I am certain other sections were equally amazed with the humility, maturity, and determination of these students. Therefore, I was not surprised to learn that 93% of Summer Search students go on to college and 95% of them are the first in their families to do so. (For more information on Summer Search, you can visit their website at www.summersearch.org.
This same day, the Section C veterans shared with us some of their experiences in the armed forces. Just to give you a brief background on each of them: Frank Monterisi graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and has served in the Marines since 2000. Matt Morgan served in the military since 1999 as an Army intelligence officer and most recently served in Afghanistan. Robert Niemeyer served in the U.S. Navy protecting oil pipelines in Iraq. Matt Scherrer has served in the U.S. Army since 2001 and was also involved overseas “fighting the bad guys.” Yair Schindel served as a Navy Seal Chief Medical Officer for the Israeli Defense Forces. All of these veterans served in turbulent, high-risk areas, most right up until joining us for classes this fall.
In addition, another one of our classmates, Ajmal Ahmady, served in the Peace Corps in Kumba, Cameroon, for two-and-a-half years. These individuals have sacrificed their personal well-being and put their lives on the line to protect the freedom and democracy we all enjoy. The subtleties of a hot shower or a hot meal were often foregone as they faced unknown danger.
Regardless of your views on the war, I think we can all agree that these heroes deserve our support and recognition for all that they have done. I recognize there are several other heroes among us, throughout all of the sections, and people who have made dramatic differences in the world through means outside of the military. To all of you, I thank you.
So this Thanksgiving, when I enjoy a traditional dinner with my family, I will be grateful. Not only for the tremendous opportunity to be here on this campus, surrounded by bright, motivating, and inspirational leaders, but also for the things we so often forget. As many families have suffered the loss of their homes through devastating hurricanes and earthquakes or the loss of loved ones, I am ever more grateful for the health and safety of my family. As we never know when we may be the ones in need, I am touched by the outreach shown by fellow HBSers to lend a helping hand wherever they can. I have no doubt this is a group who will make a difference in the world, and which already has.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!