“I want to go to Babson because I want to help my community progress,” shared Arleny Suarez ’24 within the first two minutes of meeting me, virtually.
Focused on finance, this bright-eyed and inspirational 17-year-old, first-year Babson student wishes to soak up every last bit of financial literacy she can to ultimately share it with the community she loves in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and her home country, the Dominican Republic.
Similarly motivated by cause, fellow Diversity Leadership Scholar Zarvon Rejaee ’24 from New York City is on an urgent mission to get young people to vote this fall.
Both students are hopefully optimistic, already in service to others, and place great emphasis on the pursuit of a meaningful life.
Suarez and Rejaee are two of 14 new Diversity Leadership Scholars at Babson. Each earned a four-year, full-tuition scholarship for their leadership potential to create diverse communities.
Fostering diverse communities takes deliberate effort, both shared. It means creating a home for diverse perspectives, and a place where experiences are valued and voices—from all backgrounds, origins, ethnicities, and identities—are amplified.
“I want to see diversity, I want to experience diversity. I want to know people that have very different experiences than me, and I want to better understand them,” said Suarez. “You have different thoughts than me? I want you to share them with me.”
Part of the Top Notch Scholars program in her hometown, Suarez helped other students prepare for college, all while doing so herself during one of the most challenging years yet.
“I help others the same way this program helped me,” she said. “It means a lot to give back to my community.”
“I want to see diversity, I want to experience diversity. I want to know people that have very different experiences than me, and I want to better understand them.”
Arleny Suarez ’24
Rejaee wants to continue what he has been advocating for at his high school—young voters.
“I want to use my business knowledge to impact the world of politics,” he said. In the immediate, “I want to focus on voting. Unfortunately, I’ll be 17 during the election, but if I can get 10 people to vote in my place, that has way more impact. One hundred people? Incredible.”
Quick to share their hopes and dreams, each reflected on a year that many are calling a defining moment for Gen Z.
“It has been a good year,” said Suarez, despite everything she has been through as part of the high school Class of 2020.
“It’s definitely been hard to find the right mental space, but our experiences this year will hopefully help make (my generation) more aware, and better able to find solutions.”
“The way entrepreneurs think progressively and outside of the box, that’s what we need and that’s what we’ll do.”
Zarvon Rejaee ’24
Speaking not only about the unfortunate way this pandemic has unfolded, but also about racial injustice, worsening environmental issues, and a country divided—Suarez and Rejaee agree that change is needed. With the right entrepreneurial mindset, their generation’s life experiences and recent hardships have the potential to help them solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
“The way entrepreneurs think progressively and outside of the box, that’s what we need and that’s what we’ll do,” said Rejaee. “Let’s take the bureaucracy out of politics so we can get things done, work together, and expand our thinking.”
“We will be problem solvers,” said Suarez.
On a closing note, Rejaee stressed the importance of taking action on what is within our control.
“Every time I start to feel bad for myself, I remember that every single person in the world is going through this pandemic. Everyone is suffering,” said Rejaee. “Beyond wearing a mask and being safe, the rest is out of my control. So, I’ll focus on what is doable: supporting Black Lives Matter, fighting for equality and the environment, improving healthcare …” and he reiterated, “and wearing masks. Just wear a mask.”
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