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Maddie Reese (2Y 2022), VP of Engagement for Pride@Kellogg, shares her leadership journey, her experience at Kellogg as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and her reflections during Pride Month this year.

Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to Kellogg.

Hi everyone! I’m Maddie Reese. I’m a rising second year at Kellogg and am a VP of Engagement for Pride@Kellogg. For the past decade, I’ve been trying to find ways to blend my creative side (and my love of theater and the arts) and my entrepreneurial and business side. My path has been far from linear: I was an English major and Theater minor in college, then an investment banker on Wall Street, then a published book editor, and now, I’m an MBA student at Kellogg.

As I thought about which MBA program was right for me, I thought about the experience holistically: What school would allow me to be me — an enthusiastic, theater nerd/business person, who wants to get involved with all the activities and learn from and meet amazing people? When I visited Kellogg’s campus, I fell in love; the energy buzzed around me as students converged on Gies Plaza in the Hub during lunchtime. Everyone was saying “hi,” bopping around, with some people on laptops working together. Soon, I was baked into the fold of people. I was hooked.

That feeling of belonging and the vibrancy of the student body combined with all of the creative and self-affirming spaces (Special K!, Kellogg bands, Kellogg’s Women’s Business Association, and P@K), I felt I could bring me to school and that I would grow tremendously. Since getting here, Kellogg has provided me with an incredible launching pad to not only discover what I want but to challenge my assumptions about what I can do. Having the space to do the tough, introspective work has led me to where I am now. This summer, I am blending all parts of my past in my internship at North Shore Entertainment (a musical and film production company).

Tell us about your experience in P@K so far.

I remember ticking the box “bisexual” on my application to Kellogg, and I was terrified (and excited) because it was all so new to me. Up until this point, I had never “ticked the box” in any work spaces or in college, and when I sought out the LGBTQ+ centers, I literally sprinted away as I saw someone walking down the hall. I couldn’t even imagine what my life might be like being openly out in a community. Would I be accepted? Imposter syndrome was always gnawing at me. Was I “queer enough?” When I spoke to my P@K admit buddy (the incredible Emily Nicholson), I knew I had found a home in Pride@Kellogg. And I leaned in. I started joining various slack channels, doing distanced park hangs and Facetimes with my new P@K friends. Then I wanted to make sure others felt the freedom and liberation that I did being involved with this amazing community. I applied for Director of Engagement and Community, and I then started planning events that we could do in a virtual world to connect. I haven’t looked back!

What does Pride at Kellogg mean to you?

P@K is my family here. These are the people I go to when I have a great day, when I need to vent or a hand to hold, the people I want to be with as I navigate the uncertainty of life, identity, career at Kellogg and beyond. I’ve learned so much from this community, and we’re working to build a more inclusive, intersectional experience for Kellogg students and are looking at the ways in which we can prop up other communities. P@K is my home base.

As this is Pride Month, are you reflecting on anything in particular?

I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity and about how I’m striving to bring my full self to what I do. Some people mistake authenticity for always being open about who you are, when for many, that full openness is not available or perhaps the setting is not right. I know that I am immensely privileged to find myself in communities at work, Kellogg, and in life where I can not only openly proclaim who I am, but have others accept, embrace and champion me, as well.

Coming out is not linear, and I am privileged to be able to be openly out (and I know how long it took for me to get here). For those who are struggling, for those who can’t come out for whatever reason or don’t want to do so, for those who are questioning, you are not alone. Know that somewhere in the ethers of the internet, there is someone in your corner. Xo Maddie