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Most students arrive at HBS full of anticipation and eager to embark on their two-year MBA journey. Heather Thompson (MBA ’07) wondered whether she should pack up and go home. Not that she had a home to return to. That was the problem.

The day before Thompson moved into Chase Hall on August 30, 2005, Hurricane Katrina had flooded the New Orleans home of her childhood, filled with heirlooms and memorabilia, turning it into an uninhabitable ruin. Her immediate urge was to leave HBS to help her parents put their lives, and their home, back together. They balked at the idea, insisting that they would be fine without her. Nearly two years later, Thompson recounted her inauspicous start at HBS as the student speaker at the seventh annual Fellowship Dinner on April 11.

The dinner culminated a day of campus activities for 150 alumni who sponsor fellowships and some 300 students who directly benefit from them. In his after-dinner remarks, Dean Jay Light noted that one important measure of alumni generosity has been the School’s ability in recent years to grow fellowship aid at a faster pace than the rise in tuition and fees. “Fellowship aid has doubled over the past five years, so the real cost of attending HBS has actually gone down,” said Light.

While Thompson, a recipient of two fellowships, stayed to complete her MBA, New Orleans remained front and center in her thoughts and actions. She soon joined a committee that planned the Student Association’s Hurricane Relief Trek in January 2006, which included over fifty students and several faculty.

This year Thompson participated in a pilot Service Immersion Program that sent 45 students, faculty, and staff to New Orleans to assist with recovery efforts over winter break. The School is looking at making faculty-led serviceimmersion programs an option to traditional treks. “The creation of this program illustrates that there will always be students at HBS who think it’s worthwhile to spend their time helping others, rather than helping themselves,” she said.

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2007, Section G

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