By Guest Contributor S. L. Huang; originally published at slhuang.com
At my sister’s graduation Sunday, they flashed up on a screen the name and city of origin for each student in the roll call.
My mother and I were both very impressed at the number of international students. There were students from Nicaragua, Guatemala, Malaysia, Luxembourg, Canada, and Japan. We saw Colombia, Australia, and Singapore more than once, and quite a few students came from China, Taiwan, India, or Turkey.
The gender ratio appeared to be about 50/50. And even among the American students the diversity was staggering. We saw a huge number of South and East Asian-American graduates, a decent group of African-American Whartonites, and quite a good chunk of Hispanic names. In fact, the class was far, far more diverse than the statistics for America as a whole. And as far as I could tell, every (or almost every) name called as winning a student award—for leadership, for philanthropy, for general excellence—was the name of a POC, which means that not only does Wharton accept a large percentage of nonwhite people, but those people succeed there.
This isn’t affirmative action. Wharton is probably the most exclusive business school in America; they would have no reason to dilute their student body in order to be more diverse than the American population, when simply coming close to the demographic curve would allay any criticism.
I kept thinking that if this were a movie, the extras would never have been cast with this much diversity. Yet here it was in real life.
The other reason I find all this notable is that Wharton is arguably releasing the world’s future CEOs and other business leaders into the world. This is a group often identified as coinciding with Republican party ideals, and yet, as seen in the 2012 election, the GOP has a long way to go in attracting the votes of nonwhite citizens and women who are swayed by concerns other than their tax liabilities. If the Wharton graduation is any indicator, the face of business in America might be changing, and political powers would do well to take note.