This is part of Das Tor’s ongoing series, “Club Spotlight,” in which the leadership of different Thunderbird clubs describe their mission, goals, and why students should consider joining their group. In a special Das Tor Club Spotlight in honor of Pride Month, Robson Correa da Silva shares his journey to leverage a career full of diversity and inclusion awareness.
When I woke up in my apartment in São Paulo (Brazil) on a Saturday morning, I approached the door to our home office. My partner, Bruno, was completing his second undergrad program and told me excitedly from his desk, “You are a well-known and respected professional, but you aren’t keeping your skills fresh. You haven’t touched a book since you were done with your MBA almost 20 years ago… I have chosen some graduate programs for you to check out. See if you have any interest.” So, I had two options after that very true piece of advice – disregard it or check what he had carefully picked for me to investigate. I chose the second option, but no course really caught my attention.
Honestly, I have always strived to continue my career abroad. Whenever I applied for a position abroad, I was unable to move forward in the hiring process. Typically, the headhunter or employer found other candidates with the same background and experience locally, as work visas are expensive when making a bet on hiring international talent.
After browsing the programs Bruno had suggested I look into, some links inviting me to attend student fairs showed up when I was browsing the internet, and I decided to go and see what all those international schools from the US and Europe had to offer. That is how I got to know Thunderbird, and a couple of weeks later, there was an alumni meeting to present the plans of building up the new hub in São Paulo, which was held by Dean Khagram. What an honor and joy I felt when I was welcomed by him on that night, even as a “To Be Bird.” After my admission to three schools, I decided on Thunderbird, because of its global program, and, as a Brazilian, I thought I would adapt more easily to the sunny Phoenix weather.
I was about to start my program in Fall 2020, but I couldn’t sell my apartment in time to improve my finances. I also couldn’t attend in-person visa interviews because of the pandemic. As a result, Thunderbird approved my deferral request to Spring 2021, which was for the better, as I had no idea that I would face one of the most difficult times in my whole life. Exactly one year ago, Bruno had strong headaches for about a week in a row. We then found out he was very ill with fungal meningitis. We received this diagnosis on the day after Brazil’s Valentine’s Day (June 12th). He needed to be hospitalized promptly and never came back home, passing away on August 5th after 7.5 weeks of suffering on bedrest. Although he was only 35 years old, his passing was a relief from his pain. For me, however, it was a tough situation to undergo, as I lost the hope he would recover and come back home and needed to go on without him.
Bruno was my great supporter for my dream to come true, which is studying and living abroad to build up a better professional future. I knew he wanted me to follow my heart in pursuing this program. So, that is what I did! I changed apartments, traveled to heavenly places in my country to bid farewell to Bruno surrounded by nature, saw a holistic counselor for 3 months, and held tight to the hope that I would get the visa and be able to come to the US. I needed to attend a visa interview and quarantine in Ecuador for 3 weeks before finally I arrived in Phoenix on December 12th to embrace my new destiny: to become a global leader.
As soon as 2021 started, I devoted this opportunity to God, my family, and Bruno. Without my studies, I would remain an outdated professional. Bruno used to research Gender Sociology and share a lot of his findings, such as the concept that the struggle for equal rights is the same for women, people of color, disabled individuals, and all the other underrepresented groups in society. When I had the opportunity to take on a leadership role at the LGBT-Birds+ Club, I felt my “A-HA” moment. It was time to bring more diversity and inclusion to Thunderbird students’ mindset, as global organizations are also following this path towards achieving a more sustainable business through innovation, differentiation, and acceptance. I’m taking advantage that it is Pride Month to share that the club is about to bring great opportunities for personal and professional growth not only to the LGBTQ community, but also for those who self-identify as allies as well.
The essence of this article is this: Never give up your dreams! There is a saying in Brazil: “Who stands still is a pole.” If you believe that life is not treating you well, there is always a way to make it better – be positive, because you are worth it! Do you really know what that means? It is a beautiful reminder to us all that we have reason and are unique. There is value in each and every one of us, including you. Even on the days you might not feel it, you never depreciate in value. Forget the naysayers and silence the critics even if the harshest words are the ones you say to yourself. Do not doubt yourself, and the next time you hesitate before going after something you want, the next time you brush off a compliment, the next time you doubt your place in the world, in the workplace, in your home, or in your skin, say these words to yourself like you mean it: “I’M WORTH IT!”