Meredith RolenAs a Consortium Fellow, MBA Ambassador (with two buddies), Co-Social Chair for GBA, President of Luxury Business Decisions and GMN board member, I had a unique view of the 2017 On Wisconsin! Weekend. And by unique, I mean every view that you can imagine.

Thursday morning of On Wisconsin! Weekend started with sitting on a panel for the 2019 Consortium class. Consortium students come in a day earlier to prepare for “OP” (Orientation Program), an intensive week long interview process developed to help introduce minorities to business. Wisconsin was one of the first 3 schools that began participating in The Consortium and has continued its commitment to diversity ever since. Only a year ago, I was in their same shoes. And in only a year, I seem to have accumulated enough insight and perspective to sit on a panel and help make the next class better than the last.

That same evening, we reconvened with the rest of the incoming MBA class and the other Ambassadors for a meet and greet. After months of phone calls and emails with prospective students, it was great to put faces to names. The relaxed setting was perfect for introducing the incoming students to UW-Madison, Wisconsin cheese, Spotted Cow and the MBA program. Immediately following the meet and greet was the Arts Showcase Reception.

Every year, the Bolz Center for the Arts Administration and the Artful Business Collective student organization host a reception and showcase that features all of the artistic talents of our MBA students. The exhibition shows that not only are UW-MBA students business minded, but artistically inclined. During the reception, guests were able to peruse works like the impressive ink skyline of Bethany Kasper and the “Humans of Grainger” series presented by Diversity in Business. Afterwards, was the performance showcase. I remember being impressed by the talent last year, but this year was different. The people that I watched on the stage this year were not just MBA students, they were now close friends and peers; with amazing skills and talents. Joseph Robele and Alex Grinsell made an amazing guitar and violin duo, Sam Weigley performed a hilarious stand-up act and the men of *No Data, well, I’ll just say that Finance and Marketing Research can count more than numbers. They can count steps.

As is tradition, the last item on the agenda Thursday was T.A.P.S. (Thursday after practical studies). Every Thursday evening, the MBA classes get together for socializing and relaxation. As Co-Social Chair, this weekly highlight is one of my responsibilities. There was added pressure to impress the incoming students, but the sheer number of people that came out to celebrate was more than enough to impress anyone. A tight squeeze, like any place housing almost 150 MBAs, allowed us to be face to face and interact on a personal level. So personal that I was able to convince a few people to stay in town a day longer for the Spring Ball; the culminating event of the weekend and my favorite part of On Wisconsin! Weekend.

It was 7:30pm when I got to Monona Terrace, the event venue of choice for the 2017 Spring Ball. I had a bright red flower in my curly up-do and flames in my eye. As co-social chair, I’d planned the event with one other member of GBA, Marc Wendt. We walked around to turn on all the flameless candles that adorned the tables. The candles, along with the blue and green spotlights that lined the walls, the tables with palm leaves and Iris’s, and the smell of coffee and pineapples set the stage for “Havana Nights”.

Annually, the Graduate Business Association, along with a private donor, sponsor and host the MBA Spring Ball. Incoming new admits and their significant others, as well as our current students, faculty and staff gather to celebrate. We celebrate the new admits beginning their Wisconsin journey, the first years making it half way, and the second year’s culmination of 2 years of hard work and an internship.

Guests started arriving right at 8pm. Soon women in florals and men in fedoras, along with their mojitos lined the hall. The room filled with laughter, music, conversation and excitement. As the host, I roamed the room ensuring that every mini Cuban sandwich was warm, every mojito had an umbrella, and that every person had been greeted with a smile. Along with a full bar, buffet and passed apps, guests could enjoy blackjack, craps and roulette tables, a photo booth and photographer and dancing. At the end of the event we raffled off several gift cards, t-shirts and 2 work bags donated by Lo & Sons. When people left, they left with smiles.

Then, just as quickly as the weekend began the festivities ended leaving the second years with memories that will carry them into their careers, the first years to their internships, and the incoming students into their first years. As for me, I am quite sure I will carry these memories forever.

On, Wisconsin!