UB MBA community in the face of COVID-19

Elizabeth Lepertine, MBA ’21 candidate, Student ambassador

Elizabeth Lepertine
Elizabeth Lepertine

Prior to arriving at UB in August, I thought I had a clear understanding of the UB MBA program: it would be challenging, but the value it would give me when I began to market myself as a job candidate would make it worth it. What I was entirely unaware of would be the most valuable aspect of the program—the community.

Though this community includes the program’s faculty, staff and alumni (who are always willing to speak with or otherwise help current students), I’m specifically talking about the community built among classmates.

Sharing the experience of the MBA program forms authentic friendships from the get-go. How could it not? The program is hard—believe the alumni who tell you that. It takes all the time management and teamwork skills you thought you had and really puts them to the test. It challenges your old ways of thinking and working, forcing you to grow beyond your comfort zone, while forming strong bonds with those growing beside you.

Plus, the people who best understand what you are going through are often those who are going through it with you. Your peers provide comfort in a way that outsiders are not able to. You can talk to them about your experiences and stress and they will immediately understand.

The core of the program is built on a balance of skills and experiences, and this serves as a foundation for our tight-knit community. You will always find classmates working together in the School of Management to help each other understand assignments. Bonds are formed through the shared experiences of many late nights together in the Alfiero Center, on Sunday afternoons helping one another with stats homework while streaming the Bills game, and on the nights before exams when someone stays awake just to help you understand finance concepts. These people become your confidants when you’re overwhelmed, your counsel when you need clarity, and your rocks when the stress becomes too much to handle on your own.

Before you know it, your first semester comes to an end and you find yourself at home during winter break, having survived a semester-long endurance test, and not knowing what to do with yourself. You want to feel relieved with all of your newfound free time, but you’re missing the people you have been with for every moment of the last few months.

At least with winter break, we knew we would be reunited in a month.

If COVID-19 has shown me anything, it’s how much I value the built-in support system within the UB MBA program. Social distancing takes on a new challenge when the community you rely on is only accessible virtually. When you are in need of your support system, or are stuck on a project, you can’t just wander around Alfiero for comfort or help.

I never thought I would miss the long nights in Alfiero.

UB MBA 2021 students during ADVANTAGE
UB MBA 2021 students during ADVANTAGE

When this picture was taken at MBA Advantage in August, I had no idea that the people I was about to meet would become some of my closest friends within a matter of weeks. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the relationships I have built through this program have already changed my life.

Yes, the knowledge and experience gained through the program is invaluable, but the community built and the friendships gained are without a doubt the greatest thing the program has given me. There’s no one I would rather spend long nights with—be that in Alfiero or on Zoom.

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