In this edition from Fridays from the Frontline, we get a look inside the African American Student Union at Harvard Business School from current MBA students.
Meet the HBS African American Student Union
Founded in 1968 by 5 Black students at Harvard Business School, the African American Student Union (AASU) is a community for all Black students at HBS inclusive of all backgrounds, familial situations, and social preferences. Our goal is for all Black students to have the support and tools needed to thrive academically, socially, and professionally from the moment they get admitted to HBS, to when they graduate, and beyond. Our membership includes more than 200 students and partners who engage in social events, cultural activities, and academic and professional development workshops.
New members are first welcomed to the AASU family at our annual fall retreat, full of community building and bonding. From there, they are supported throughout their first year with workshops, panels, and socials. These events primarily focus on academic excellence, recruiting and career support, and community building. One event we are proud of is our well-being series, which is focused on helping students find effective ways to cope with stress, such as journaling and breathwork.
One of the highlights of the AASU experience is our annual H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference. This year, in partnership with the Black Investment Club, AASU will host Black business leaders, professionals, and students for a 2-day conference in Boston. The conference gives admitted and prospective students an opportunity to engage with the current AASU members, it facilitates networking between current students and alumni, and provides a platform for the club to honor industry leaders — many of whom are AASU alumni.
Part of the conference also includes the Black New Venture Competition, an annual pitch competition for Black founders to win more than $200K in non-dilutive funding. The competition also provides exposure to VCs, mentors, and advisors. Held at the end of February every year, the conference and pitch competition serves as a culmination of our club’s Black History Month programming.
“My first exposure to AASU was in 2020 through the H. Naylor Fitzhugh conference. I admired the student leaders who moderated panels, excelled professionally, and welcomed me to campus. They inspired me to know that Harvard was a place where I could succeed. It’s been amazing to serve as one of the leaders of AASU and continue its legacy at HBS.” – Kristen Shipley (MBA 2024)
“AASU was more than a student organization; it was my home, my community at HBS. It nurtured my holistic growth, fostering professional, academic, and social development. AASU served as my launchpad, empowering me to explore what HBS has to offer with unwavering confidence.” – Nahum Seifeselassie (MBA 2024)
“AASU has been an amazing support system, community, and family at HBS for me. I was welcomed by members with open arms as soon as I stepped on campus for the Admitted Students Welcome event. I have truly appreciated the mentorship, guidance, and friendships I have been able to build through AASU! I feel fortunate to be able to serve as a VP of Admissions this school year with Alliyah Gary (MBA 2024) and look forward to seeing all of the ways AASU will continue to thrive at HBS in the future.” – Chloe Sharp (MBA 2024)
AASU would not be what it is today without our leadership team, advisors, first-year volunteers, and the greater HBS community.