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Home Away from Home: Finding Community at HBS

Updated: Apr 3

Adhitya Raghavan (MBA ’25) asks: What does community mean to you?

If you ask Google the definition of community, it returns “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Unfortunately, reality indicates that this definition might not be a sufficient condition to find community, especially in a place like HBS.

From a theoretical lens the possibilities of finding community are many – join one of the million student clubs or better yet, create your own. Section can be a core community. Beyond the physical HBS walls lies the vast alumni community waiting to welcome you with open arms. Despite this multitude of possibilities I hear voices in the halls whispering “I feel alone!” or “I don’t know if I belong here.” So, I wonder, can we find community through an arbitrary assignment like the HBS dorms? Through a shared culture or ethnicity? While I will always stand with pride for my section (J), it is almost comical that this social construct was an algorithmic assignment that happened roughly six months ago, and yet lead to such strong bonds. Is it something we magically become a part of, or is it something we consciously create for ourselves? 

These questions were beyond me and my 5-year-old brain. So I decided to ask a few classmates what community means to them here at HBS.

Ben Hsieh (MBA ’25): Community to me is best when it’s truly authentic. I’ve found my closest friends when I’m genuinely pursuing my hobbies and interests – tennis, climbing, journaling, government, education, etcetera. Especially as I get older, I’m also cognizant that community is, for me, more about depth than breadth. While I really do want to be friends with all 940+ people in our RC class, I’ve really found joy and connection by focusing on slightly fewer relationships but trying to deepen them. Lastly, I’m really trying to figure out how to balance community and our jam-packed schedules. It feels weird, but a recurring calendar invite is actually the best indicator of closeness sometimes – letting “autopilot” help build that consistency which strengthens ties.

Anonymous (MBA ’25): Community means having a safe space to be completely myself around people who love me and embrace me unconditionally. People who celebrate my wins and support me in the downs, who allow me to be unapologetically myself. I’ve found it in my friendships from yacht week. Friends who I feel I’ve known forever who always find little and big ways to support me, whether that is showing up to events that matter to me or cheering me on in doing things that maybe I’m nervous about. Or in LASO, doing celebrations with them that honor my Latino culture. Friendships in my sport, and also people who have just made the everyday grind a little better who are also unapologetically themselves.

Subham Rajgaria (MBA ’25): For me community is a sense of belonging. It can be through means of common hobbies, food, TV shows or just liking to hangout. Community to me is also an opportunity to grow, celebrate, get encouragement and inspiration. At HBS, I have found community in several ways: the Section, the South Asian community, and finally all batchmates in general. They all inspire me, motivate me, and make sure I am heard. During tough times they are also there to support me. I look forward to building deeper relationships within the community and becoming a better person by the end of HBS experience.

Anonymous (MBA ’25): Community means a group of people with mutual trust and shared experience. I have found it somewhat -- but not fully -- at HBS: I was able to find people I trust, but it takes more time to build trust among them to create a community.

Alyssa Yu (MBA ’25): Community is finding commonality in cities lived, food craved, and humor shared, while enjoying the process of discovering all the parts that fall beyond those intersections. As an introvert, it’s being able to spontaneously text a friend to go to a free food event on campus where I might not know anyone else. Taking in the novelty of strangers and contexts knowing I have the safety of familiarity in a person and the kind of silence that doesn’t feel awkward, for me, makes the act of being vulnerable and repeating that cycle of finding commonality and difference in new people all the more wonderful.

Personally, seven years living away from my first community (family) have taught me to find community in shared activities and experiences, big or small. On Flag Day, standing amidst the broad cultural differences represented in the classroom made me feel like I truly belonged in this international HBS community. So does sitting in the i-Lab, writing furiously on a whiteboard and knowing that I am surrounded by like-minded peers. I also believe community can be created through shared traditions like Saturday night board games and weekly cookouts sessions.

So I leave you with my definition of community: a state of mind in which you feel like you are wholly accepted and belong. With that, I warmly welcome you to the HBS community.

Adhitya Raghavan (MBA ’25) is originally from Chennai, India. He learned about rockets during his undergrad at Princeton, studying Mechanical and Aerospace engineering. Adhitya loves playing sports and attempting to write poetry, and hopes to build his own energy company post-HBS.

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