Mendoza School of Business

Call forward: An MBA gift sends a message

Published: December 1, 2020 / Author: Carol Elliott

students studying

MBA student Jenna Schiemer in the phone booth located at the southwest end of the MBA hallway at Mendoza College of Business. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/ University of Notre Dame)

The epithet for any Class of 2020 practically writes itself:

The year of COVID-19, when celebrations were canceled, the economy tanked and people were forced to avoid contact with even close family members out of fear of spreading the disease; a dark and difficult year that everyone wants to put behind them.

But the Notre Dame MBA Class of 2020, whose degrees were conferred virtually in May, decided to rewrite their legacy.

“Being the Notre Dame MBA Class of 2020 will always be associated with the hardships and the uncertainties of COVID-19,” said Fernando Quijano Franky (MBA ’20). “But we didn’t want our legacy to be of a class that just got dealt a bad hand. We wanted to be a class that was able to realize this situation and still follow our mission to ‘grow the good in business’ and pay it forward to future classes.”

The students found a way to communicate this message of service and goodwill through an apt gift to the classes to come: phone booths.

student on a phone in the phone booth

MBA student Jenna Schiemer in the phone booth located at the southwest end of the MBA hallway at Mendoza College of Business. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

While the Clark Kent version of the phone booth might be archaic, the new models are increasingly popular in offices and public venues as small, private spaces to take or make a call. The three booths made possible by the MBA gift — two of which are installed in the Mendoza College of Business and one in the Stayer Building — are essentially single occupant soundproof rooms with ventilation systems and power for laptops and USB devices.

The need for private spaces for phone calls is apparent to anyone walking through Mendoza’s soaring atrium or busy hallways.

“For MBA students, networking is very important,” said Quijano. “Even for quick calls with recruiters, there was not an actual quiet space for you to take these calls in Mendoza. Many times, you would see people running all over the place, trying to take the call with a lot of noise around them.”

The booths are positioned in the hallways and lounge space most heavily trafficked by MBA students. With COVID still a concern, each booth is equipped with sanitizers and cleaned daily by the building facilities crew, similar to the protocols for the College’s team rooms.

The funding for the booths was raised as part of an annual MBA tradition of the graduating class gift, which is meant to enhance the student experience for future classes. For 2020, the effort was led by Quijano as the Notre Dame MBA Association vice president of alumni relations. He and a committee of eight classmates surveyed fellow students and compiled an initial list of 21 ideas. As they worked with the College administration, the choice narrowed to two: the booths and a contribution to the COVID relief fund established by Mendoza’s O’Hara Society. They ended up supporting both.

Quijano would have liked to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony or something more public to celebrate — not just the booths, but the thought, goodwill, future hopes and partnerships that brought together the funding to make them possible.

It hasn’t been easy for the Class of 2020. Some graduates saw their job starts delayed or even withdrawn. But Quijano sees the class gift as something empowering because it arose out of a difficult time.

“We wanted something that would be beneficial and that showed that together, we made the most out of it,” said Quijano. “So that’s where our message was. Even though our situation was not the best, we made the best out of the hand that we were dealt.”

Notre Dame MBA Class of 2020 Gift Committee:

Fernando Quijano Franky
Peter Zanca
Nick Tawse
Stacia Giese
Sydney Bailey
Annette Soloveichick
Kyle Ragan
Ally Norell
Joe Phumthanaphat

Special recognition to these ND MBA students for supporting the effort to redefine the Class of 2020 legacy:

Fernando Quijano Franky
Jacob Mazurek
Jiamin Gao
Ryan McNamara
Ally Norrell
Adria Griffin
Rachael Emerick
Stacia Giese
Richard Wells
John Chao
Jake Dillon
Erin Bierbusse
Kevin Gore
Gina Guzzardo
Peter Zanca
Daniel Noonan
Nick Tawse
Colin Black
Krishna Vasudevan
Ian Vanic
Chuck Schappert

Topics: Features, Mendoza

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