Full-time, Langone MBA students share personal stories through Stern Speaks series

On February 13, Stern Speaks, the popular student speaker series for full-time MBA students, launches its part-time counterpart.

The Oppy caught up with Francois Anderson, who co-leads the full-time series, and Dalia Shteinhauz, co-founder of the new Langone program, to find out more about what’s ahead this semester.

Abby Horowitz: All the details! What is Stern Speaks? When did it get started? 

Francois Anderson: Stern Speaks is a space where students can get to know their peers beyond the typical business school conversations surrounding our professional aspirations. Stern Speaks provides a space where speakers can be raw, honest, and vulnerable as they tell their stories in an intimate, judgment-free setting. It was created by Stern students who saw the value in learning more about the classmates that we spend two formative years with.

Dalia Shteinhauz: Stern Speaks has been around for a few years now, as a full-time only program. The idea is to get to know our fellow classmates for who they are, and not what they do. Nominated (or volunteer!) students will have 20 to 25 minutes to speak in front of their classmates and share anything that makes them unique. A version of Stern Speaks exists in most business schools, so we really wanted to incorporate this into Langone life as well.

AH: What is your past experience with the program and why did you decide to get involved?

FA: I was invited to give a Stern Speaks presentation last year. I enjoyed telling my classmates about aspects of my being that they would not have known or heard about otherwise. I decided to get involved because it restores a certain level of humanity to the community that seems to get lost in the hustle of recruiting for summer internships and full-time jobs.

DS: We knew that Stern Speaks was a popular event among full-time students, and we wanted to find a way to execute it for Langone students as well. [Langone Stern Speaks co-founder] Patrick [Leary] and I attended a Stern Speaks full-time session, and the attendance was overwhelming. Students turned out to a packed M1-70, filling every chair and even sitting on the floor. We spend a lot of our MBA in class, studying, and networking but perhaps not getting to know our classmates as well on a personal level. Everyone has an interesting story to share—we wanted to make that an important part of the Langone community as well.

AH: What types of topics do students choose to talk about? Is there any common thread that unites these events? 

FA: Students are free to talk about anything that they want to as it relates to their life. Speakers choose the topics, we help them to develop their story to make it as impactful as possible. One common thread that unites the events is the vulnerability that each speaker displays.

DS: Some stories have ranged from living abroad experiences, coming out, overcoming personal obstacles, or a formative person or experience in life—anything that makes your story unique.

AH: If I don’t know the speakers, should I still attend? What do you hope attendees will take away from these events?

FA: Students don’t only come to Stern Speaks because of the individual who is speaking. We all go because we get to learn more about a person who is a part of our community. It helps to remind us of how incredible our peers are and how rich and diverse the experiences of our peers can be.

AH: Programs are not recorded and the sessions are not open to faculty or staff. Why is this important? 

DS: It’s already a vulnerable situation, to stand up in front of your classmates and open up about a part of you that may be very personal. By having the sessions only open to our fellow students we can create a special, trusting environment.

AH: What have been your most meaningful takeaways from past events you’ve attended? What have you learned or what has surprised you?

FA: One of the biggest takeaways is to be quick to listen and be slow to judge. Every person in our community has something interesting to say and every single person in our community is incredible in his/her own way.

DS: We spend so much time together as classmates and

sometimes colleagues, but we rarely get to know each

other’s personal stories.

We may have preconceived notions about each other based on our experiences together in the classroom, and Stern Speaks is meant to break down some of these barriers. I’ve learned that my classmates have gone through a lot of different life experiences, many personally relatable as well. You may find out that you have much more in common with your fellow students than you know.

AH: What’s your long-term vision for the program? Is there any way for students to get involved?

FA: My long-term vision for the program is for it to continue to be a place where students come every Thursday to be amazed by the stories that their classmates tell. If you have any recommendations for speakers, please feel free to pass them along!

DS: We would love to see Langone Stern Speaks become an integral part of Langone life. Anyone who is interested in planning, speaking, coaching, or nominating a speaker should email Dalia Shteinhauz (ds4904@stern.nyu.edu) and Patrick Leary (pl788@stern.nyu.edu). We are always looking for students with great stories.

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