As she made her way through high school, Shruti Jain ’24 strived to watch out for her classmates. She became a peer mentor, and she formed a group for students, many of whom like herself came from low-income communities. That group gave students a place to support each other through their challenges. “It was such an important space,” says Jain, a resident of Richmond, California.
By the time she neared graduation, Jain carried with her values that are foundational to who she is as a person. She believes in the power of community and the importance of making sure people are heard. She believes in trying to make the world a better place.
As she searched for a college to attend, she soon found a home for herself and her defining values. “Babson reflects many of the core values I hold,” Jain says. “Babson reflects this idea of helping one another and finding new solutions that better the world.”
This semester, Jain is one of the six inaugural Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership Scholars, a scholarship program established by Babson’s new Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The recipients of the four-year, full-tuition scholarship were selected not only for their outstanding academic achievement, but also for their potential as entrepreneurial leaders and by how they embody the values that The Blank School is built upon.
The scholars arrive at Babson with the potential to shape The Blank School’s future, as well as serve as living examples to the College community of the values they hold dear. They will learn to lead change and create scalable solutions to global problems.
“Being a Blank School Scholar means we hold the value of using our entrepreneurial education and experiences to better our community at Babson and beyond,” says Jain. “I’m excited to see what we will come up with over the next four years. It’s unknown what we will accomplish, but I know we will accomplish great things.”
The Blank School was established through a landmark $50 million gift from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which is founded and chaired by Home Depot co-founder Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98. In its work, the foundation endeavors to embody six core leadership values, and those values, in turn, also serve as keystone values for The Blank School.
The six values are: Put People First, Listen and Respond, Include Everyone, Innovate Continuously, Lead by Example, and Give Back to Others. Cheryl Kiser, interim CEO of The Blank School, has seen firsthand how the foundation lives by them. “Their values are very important to them,” says Kiser, also the executive director of Babson’s Lewis Institute for Social Innovation. “They are very intentional about everything they do. Their values matter. They’re not just something on paper.”
“Being a Blank School Scholar means we hold the value of using our entrepreneurial education and experiences to better our community at Babson and beyond. I’m excited to see what we will come up with over the next four years.”
Shruti Jain ’24
Babson, of course, is a place with its own deep-rooted beliefs, about social responsibility and entrepreneurial leadership, and Kiser believes Blank’s values align well with them. “These core values allow you to create, to innovate, to entrepreneur in ways that are so powerful,” Kiser says. “When you put the entrepreneurial mindset and these values together, what emerges is an entrepreneurial, valued-based leader. That’s what the world needs now.” From the pandemic to climate change to the fight for racial equality, these are times of crisis that call out for entrepreneurial leaders guided by empathy and morality. “When the stakes are high, you see why these values matter,” Kiser says. “They are the only true north we have.”
Kiser anticipates the Blank School Scholars having a lasting impact on Babson, particularly in how they demonstrate the importance of staying true to your beliefs. “Today more than ever, we need to put our values out front,” says Kiser. “The scholars will be seen as examples. They will make these values alive to our community.”
Meet the Scholars
The scholars have taken the Blank leadership values to heart. Oliver Bustos ’24 has started a string of businesses in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. Of the six values, he particularly identifies with the call to Innovate Continuously. “As an entrepreneur, I have had to constantly find new ways of innovating to make not only my products more appealing but also to stay in business,“ Bustos says.
Include Everyone is the value that most resonates with Michael Agard ’24 of Atlanta. Agard is the founder of a designer streetwear company. “I’ve been in sports my entire life, so working with a team is definitely something that I love doing,” he says. “I love solving problems together, because I think that it’s better to do it together than to do something alone.”
“When you put the entrepreneurial mindset and these values together, what emerges is an entrepreneurial, valued-based leader. That’s what the world needs now.”
Cheryl Kiser, interim CEO of the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership
A North Smithfield, Rhode Island, resident, Kate Lapierre ’24 co-founded an eco-friendly lip balm company. Lead by Example is a value that she thinks is essential. “When creating my business, my goal was to encourage others to become more environmentally conscious and switch to alternatives that were better for the environment,” she says.
New York City’s Charlotte Cole ’24 is the president of an organization that brings the arts to underprivileged children. She is struck by how the value of Listen and Respond reminds her of theater. “It is a whole thing that we learned in acting,” she says. “We always repeat back to the other person what we had said, just to get better at listening and responding.”
Madison Grogan ’24 of Fountain Valley, California, hopes to create a business that analyzes generational trends and predicts how business will shift in the future. She seeks to Put People First. “I care a lot about other people, and I try to make connections wherever I am,” she says. “I always try to help people and uplift them and inspire them every day.”
Finally, Shruti Jain ’24, who always watched after her high school classmates, identifies with the values of Give Back to Others and Include Everyone. “Inclusion and support are so important,” she says. “Communities I have been a part of have given so much to me. It’s my responsibility to give back to them, and to students who weren’t given the opportunities I was given.”