The SA and MBA Program are pleased to announce that Elsa Sze is the SAMBA Award recipient for November 2013. Elsa was nominated by Mike Murphy, Associate Director, Student & Academic Services, for demonstrating personal initiative on a number of occasions to make a positive impact on the community around her, all without title or formal role.
Arguably Elsa’s most noteworthy contribution to the HBS community is the SA Presidential Elections Virtual Forum. She perceived, not incorrectly, that the existing elections process for SA Co-Presidents provided limited opportunities for 900 classmates to meet the candidates or achieve a meaningful understanding of their positions on issues important to students. In response, she created a blog where important questions were asked, and complete and thoughtful answers were provided by the candidate teams. Elsa’s drive is eloquently expressed in the ‘About the Moderator’ section on the blog, where she describes growing up in a place where there was no democracy, and elections are small but important, so the opportunity must be taken seriously. In response to Elsa’s creation of the virtual forum, Mike Murphy states, “I had never seen this approach taken in 17 years working in higher education- and I’ve never seen a more effective approach to providing information to students prior to a class-wide election.”
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings, Elsa created the Facebook page, Msg4Boston, to provide an outlet for members of the HBS and Boston Communities to give expression to their feelings that emerged from the tragedy. She set out on campus and around Boston with a small white board and a camera and invited people to write a message, posting the photos on the Facebook page. Elsa also worked to have a white board stationed in the Spangler Lounge with post-it notes for students, faculty, and staff to leave simple messages about the event and their reaction to it. Our community, rocked by the tragedy of the bombings, needed to come together, and Elsa provided a meaningful way for us to do that.
In October 2012 as an RC, Elsa took the risk to speak up about the perpetually controversial Priscilla Ball and authored a front page opinion piece in the Harbus. Fast forward to fall 2013, the event team from the ANZ Club engaged in an unprecedented level of dialogue within the community (LGBTSA, WSA, faculty & staff), and provided better context for the Priscilla Ball by hosting a screening of ‘Priscilla- Queen of the Desert’ for to the entire community. In his nomination for Elsa, Mike Murphy states,” Elsa contributed to elevating the nature of the conversation between clubs, which shouldn’t go unacknowledged.”
Elsa has a resolve to identify needs within the community, and do her part to provide for those needs. She is a leader without a title and is a member of the community who exercises leadership when she feels called to do so. Where others might say “I feel like I should do something”, Elsa decides, takes action, and leads. She does so with both passion and humility. She embodies all of the qualities that the SAMBA award seeks to recognize and we are thrilled to announce her as an award recipient.