Wednesday Oct 9th was Alaska Airlines Day at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. Walking up to PACCAR Hall, the entrance was decorated with a banner welcoming students, staff, and Alaska Airlines staff the school. The hall was all decked-out with purple and gold balloons and Alaska Airlines colors, showing our pride of being a student at the University of Washington, and to the great partnership with Alaska Airlines.
As I entered the building, the Jiambalvo Hearth was busier than usual. Students were interacting with the recruiters and taking photos at the Instagram booth, boasting their pride for UW. The sound of the UW marching band echoed throughout the entire hall to get students and staff excited. At around 12:20pm, students and staff gathered around the area for remarks from the CEO of Alaska Airlines, Brad Tilden, and Dean of Foster, Frank Hodge, and to welcome Dubs. (Brad Tilden himself is also a Foster alumni!)
After Tilden’s remarks came the highly anticipated activity of the entire day: paper airplanes were tossed from the 3rd floor overlook and one lucky winner would win a free round-trip ticket to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.
Later in the afternoon, Alaska Airlines hosted a guest panel featuring three guest speakers Charu Jain, Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Kyle Levine, the Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer. The panel was at Anthony’s Forum and was titled Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Alaska Airlines. As the title suggested, the panel that focused on how Alaska Airlines has made an effort to build diversity, the success they had and the challenges they faced.
During the panel, all three guest speakers reflected on how they have been working towards making a difference to diversity in Alaska Airlines. Karen opened up about her experience of having gone to a predominantly-white institution and how it had affected how she viewed herself in college. From this experience, she is motivated to bring changes to diversity in the workplace. As an international student from Vietnam, this resonated deeply with me because moving to another country means adapting to a new culture and having to find my own community while bringing my own values to the table.
More valuable advice came about allyship. Karen noted that it is very important for students to find allies. She said to look for someone who will push and challenge you in work but at the same time respect you.
As the panel is coming to a close, Charu had one last advice for students, “Don’t change anything about yourself.”
Overall, this was a day that, for me, was both inspiring and motivated from the reflections that these guest panels have on their career and their advice for students. Like Karen asked “If you don’t advocate for what you care about, and one of which is diversity, who will?”