On Friday, April 25, 2014, Smith’s Black MBA Association and Latin American MBA Student Association (LAMBASA) co-hosted the 21st Annual William D. Bradford Awards Banquet in the Samuel Riggs Alumni Center. The dinner and reception has now become an annual tradition at Smith, providing an opportunity to bring together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and corporate partners for celebration of diversity in the Smith community.
The Robert H. Smith School of Business began holding the yearly banquet in 1994 in an effort to support under-represented members of the student body. Over the years, the event has grown into one of the signature events on the calendar, with 100 members of the Smith community attending this year’s banquet. Outgoing LAMBASA President Jose Castro remarked that the banquet “has become one of the most important student-led activities that focuses on the acknowledgement of the importance of diversity in our community and the positive impact it has created along the way."
As part of the celebration of the minority communities’ accomplishments over the past year, a panel of faculty and staff – Dr. Shreevardhan Lele, Dr. Paulo Prochno, and Associate Director of MBA/MS Admissions Kecia Hansard – recognized specific students for their outstanding contribution to the Smith community. First-year MBA students Freddy Chacon and Sasha Smith received the Community Involvement Award and fellow first-years Chavuanne Wills and Milton Vasconez were given the Academic Achievement Award. Regarding diversity in the Smith community, Award-winner and VP of Marketing & Communications for the Black MBA Association, Sasha Smith commented, “as you speak to individuals in the community many folks – White, Black, Asian, Latino, etc. – are here because they want diversity and acknowledge it adds value to their experience and learning. “
In addition to honoring student achievements, the banquet also featured a collection of powerful speakers who spoke to the importance of diversity in the world of business. Sydney Bradford, the daughter of former Smith professor William D. Bradford who initiated the event 21 years ago, began the evening with poignant remarks about the role of diversity in the Smith community and beyond and her father’s vision for the event. Bradford was followed by the night’s keynote speaker, Jose Tijerino, the President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Tijerino, a University of Maryland alumnus, spoke about the obstacles that he has faced as a Latino American and how he has fought to ensure that minorities are fairly and appropriately represented in our society. The speeches set an excellent tone for a night that not only recognized the great accomplishments of Smith students in embracing diversity, but also challenged them to make an even greater impact after their time at Smith.
The event also offered students an excellent opportunity to network with alumni and corporate sponsors in attendance from General Electric, Hilti, Baltimore Aircoil, Laureate Education, Sirius XM, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and M&T Bank. The wide range of attendees made for a dynamic event and a fitting celebration for one of the Smith School’s proudest traditions. "Each year students, alumni, corporate partners, staff and faculty attend the Bradford Banquet. Doing so demonstrates the Smith School Community's commitment to diversity. People here are on board. They want to do more. That's exciting,” said Associate Dean of the MBA & MS Programs, Dr. Ken White.
- Patrick Gillece, Office of Marketing Communications