When Rafael de la Rosa was preparing his MBA application he made a life-changing decision. “I took the opportunity of applying to an MBA program as an opportunity to think about my life as a whole,” said Rafael. “The one thing that was also missing was coming out to everyone.”
He knew that starting this new chapter was the chance to be out to everyone — not only to friends and family — but it didn’t come without apprehension.
Rafael became more confident that he could be openly gay at Wharton after researching online and found Wharton’s Out4Biz LGBT student group. “I was sure that during the MBA and within Wharton I would have a safe space to be my full self. And I’m happy to say that I feel safe here and that everybody should be.”
Now as Co-President of Out4Biz, Rafael is leading programs to generate discussions, build relationships, and welcome new students. One way Out4Biz carries out this mission is through visit days tailored for LGBT prospective students. “They have the opportunity not only to meet the Out4Biz group but also to visit the campus, get in touch with other resources, and see if they are comfortable being in Philadelphia and at Wharton.”
The visit days can be enriching for attendees even if they decide not to pursue an MBA in the end. “The person may not be fully out or not out at all, but when they come here they have the opportunity to learn from us what has been our experience here.”
For students who can’t make the trip to Philadelphia, Out4Biz regularly answers questions from prospective students online through their website. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to ease doubts — whether by email or conference call.” Out4Biz also keeps a confidential email for students who wish to remain anonymous. This commitment to future students is personal for Out4Biz members. “The group is very supportive because we feel that somehow we need to pay it back. The caring and supportive environment from the club and from the community is reciprocated to the prospective students.”
In addition to admissions, Out4Biz hosts regular programming and events for current students. “All of our initiatives and campaigns have been directed to show we are just like everybody. It’s about generating awareness and connections with other students,” said Rafael.
Last year, Out4Biz helped to bring Martine Rothblatt, SiriusXM founder and CEO of United Therapeutics, for an on-campus discussion on her rise to be the highest paid female CEO in the U.S. The annual White Party is attended by 60% of Wharton students and the annual Rainbow Pub is a highlight of every fall semester — the must-see drag performances by Wharton staff certainly help draw a crowd. This spring, Out4Biz collaborated with Return on Equality to design the programming for the weeklong events series on diversity and inclusion.
After graduation this May, Rafael will return to Brazil and join Bain & Company full-time as a consultant. From the beginning of the recruiting process and throughout his summer internship with Bain, Rafael was open about his sexuality with colleagues and supervisors. In fact, he became involved with Bain’s global LGBT employee group, BGLAD, and has continued to stay in touch with its leadership. When he joins the company this summer his goal is to help BGLAD expand its presence and resources in the Latin American region.
Out4Biz initiatives hope to leave an impression that lasts beyond the years spent at Wharton. “The discussion about diversity that I see at Wharton is going to enable this generation of students to be better businessmen and women,” said Rafael.
— Mike Kaiser
Posted: March 24, 2017