Introducing: Random Walk New Orleans

Why am I here and not somewhere else?  I think this question is my constant reminder to keep striving toward my goals and to create change.  I came to Chicago Booth, because I truly felt that only here could I explore my ideas and have the resources necessary to ensure their success.  The ability to follow your passions and to create new initiatives is endless so long as you have the drive to see the work through.  I knew that Booth would give me both the opportunity and the toolkit to create and lead in the capacity that I wanted whether instituting a student group, launching a business venture, or establishing a never before visited Random Walk destination.

For me, this type of leadership involves constantly affecting change.  I believe that when I see a problem, I can and should work to implement a solution to solve for the problem.  It is up to me to be the change—not someone else. 

As a co-founder of Random Walk New Orleans, I had the opportunity to do just that.  I chose not to participate in a Random Walk prior to coming to Booth, because it simply was not a feasible option for me coming from my nonprofit background in education.  Because of this background, one of my core values is to strive to give back to others in my community.  Therefore, I wanted to create an opportunity for Booth students who also want to give back during Random Walk.  So, with fellow students Kiswana Browne and Melody Johnson, we decided to fill this need by forming a Random Walk with a community service focus:  Random Walk New Orleans.

To make the trip a reality, I first spoke with Jessica Jaggers, Senior Director of Student Life & Diversity Affairs. I explained my desire to provide students with the opportunity to participate on a Random Walk that is more financially feasible and that allows students to give back to the community through volunteer service.

Through discussions with my co-founders and Ms. Jaggers, we realized that our trip would solve for even more constraints of incoming Boothies than we had initially thought by providing more flexibility in the trip.  First, there is no group departure from Chicago as this is a domestic trip, which allows students to arrive in New Orleans via any method of transportation.  And, international students do not have to fly to Chicago just to turn around and go to another international destination.  Secondly, RW NOLA allows all students to explore another U.S. city.  Thirdly, the trip is only five days, which can be very helpful for those students who cannot be away for the length of a typical RW. 

Finally, the integration of community service is one of the trip features of which I am most proud with RW NOLA.  Our group will provide 100 hours of service to young people in New Orleans to ensure that they have better financial literacy and the ability to use different financial tools for money management.  This is not only a key skill of the 21st Century, but it is also expertise directly aligned to what Boothies do best!

From initial conversations with classmates, partnership with Student Life, and support from the Dean’s office, the beginning of a more flexible Random Walk was launched! 

Booth has now become the business school that affords incoming students the flexibility to participate in a pre-MBA trip that not only meets their needs across multiple dimensions, but directly institutionalizes the core values of the Booth community: to give back.

I am excited for RW NOLA because it stems directly from a desire to meet a community need.  Only at Booth do I feel that I would be able to see an unmet need, identify the key stakeholders necessary for institutional support, and get the green light to go ahead and run with my idea. 

Therefore, this is why I am at Chicago Booth and not somewhere else.  

Kristin Nordeen is a 1Y in the Full-Time program. Prior to Booth, she worked in urban and rural education as a Science Curriculum Manager, Coach, and Teacher. This summer, Kristin is transitioning to Deloitte Consulting where she is looking to expand these skills while having a broader impact on an organization. Kristin is further involved in the Booth community as a MCG Co-Chair, Boxing and Veg Club member, and Education Consulting Practicum team member. 

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