My INROADS Journey to Babson
My journey is one of many options and opportunities.
Writing about my INROADS scholar experience is a walk down memory lane. INROADS opened doors to a world of opportunity for me, ultimately leading me to an MBA at Babson College. This journey started during my adolescence when my parents, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, decided to move back home. We left our life in Massachusetts to settle in a rural village in northern Haiti, where many of our neighbors were impoverished.
I had the honor and privilege of watching my mother, an enterprising woman, turn the challenges we faced into opportunities. She was the first social entrepreneur I ever met, long before I even knew what that term meant. She ran an affordable primary care clinic from our home that served the community and created a revenue stream for our family. Through her example, I saw how powerful business can be when it serves others. I returned to Massachusetts in my last year of high school knowing that I, too, would someday use entrepreneurship to serve my impoverished Haitian brothers and sisters.
Against the counsel of my guidance counselor to take a safe path and attend a community college, I instead applied to private schools including Bentley University, Babson College, Boston University, and Boston College. I received five college acceptances in all, but I still had no idea how I was going to afford tuition even after factoring in financial aid. Luckily, another high school counselor informed me in passing that an INROADS recruiter would be visiting the next day.
I recall the day I met Terry Carter, the INROADS representative. He had a wide smile and kind eyes. Terry shared INROADS’ vision and programs: it was all about helping students like myself who were interested in business careers secure local summer internships. INROADS also awarded one full four-year scholarship a year to a student starting at Bentley or Babson. I applied for the program and scholarship and was awarded both! I spent my four undergraduate years at Bentley University and had two INROADS internships at Pitney Bowes Management Services and at Fidelity Investments. I gained a great appreciation for corporate America.
Shortly after earning my degree, I started a for-purpose venture called Communities for Haitian Entrepreneurs and Startups. CHES exists to foster economic development in rural Haitian communities, much like the one where I lived. After several years of learning and making modest gains with CHES, I realized I needed an entrepreneurship education to complement my undergraduate management degree.
Ready for Babson
Enter Babson. I began the part-time evening MBA program while working at my full-time day job and continuing to run CHES on the side. It was stressful, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to test and apply the concepts I was learning in class to my venture! So many of my Babson MBA classes directly impacted our operations and services at CHES. Standouts included finance, operations, cost analysis, negotiations, and conscious capitalism with professor Raj Sisodia. I did an independent research project with Professor Sisodia, reflecting on my CHES journey and exploring what was and wasn’t working in my field.
I participated in the Entrepreneurship Intensity Track with Associate Professor Julian Lange and Adjunct Lecturer Craig Benson, and it was especially valuable. There was a rigorous application process to get into the class, which included pitching, submitting my résumé, and developing an opportunity feasibility report. At the start of the class, I felt out of place in the group because my venture was in the business of social impact and our ROI was different from everyone else’s. Luckily, it didn’t take long to bond with my cohort. I learned so much from them, the guest speakers, and the faculty.
Thanks to the Schlesinger Fund for Global Healthcare Entrepreneurship and its faculty director Wiljeana Glover, I traveled to southwestern Uganda. We worked on a hackathon competition with local students and healthcare practitioners to explore the intersection of entrepreneurship, health, and low-resource communities. Who would have thought? My mother was thrilled!
Since earning my Babson MBA, CHES has more than doubled its revenues and its reach has doubled. We have now worked with more than 200 rural entrepreneurs, of whom more than 60% are women. When I reflect on how my journey started, I sometimes still find it hard to believe that I have walked my path. I am energized by the excitement that lies ahead, and I am committed to being for others what INROADS has been for me: opportunity.