Breakout Sessions

Thanks to the time, openness, and insight given by QuestBridge Scholars and Alumni, we are excited to offer breakout sessions around the following themes: family, relationships, and identity; work and career; wellness and self-care; social impact; and money and financial literacy. The theme of community will be infused throughout the entire Summit.

Here is a sampling of some of the sessions we may offer at QB25. Get ready for some great conversation and real talk!

Family, Relationships, and Identity

  • “Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here”: How New Class Identities Change Perceptions of Who We Are
    Many of our class identities have changed over time. But having a new socioeconomic status doesn’t always mean that we’ve changed culturally. In fact, we often hold onto many of the behaviors and values we had when we were “low-income,” even though we’re now financially secure. How do we navigate the tension between our “new” and “old” class identities? How do we reconcile feelings of frustration when our peers speak freely about wealth, when we still don’t take pride in it? In this session, we’ll talk about how changing class identities can change how we’re perceived, even if we don’t feel like we’ve changed internally. Most importantly, we’ll discuss what this means for how we navigate relationships in our “new” world, while still maintaining roots in our “old” one.
  • “I Just Don’t Have The Money.” Being Comfortable With Being From A Low-Income Family
    The hardest part about being in the QuestBridge community is admitting that you come from a low-income background. Being low-income, in many situations, is an invisible identity, something we can hide from others. Thus, we do not need to identify with being low-income if we don’t want to. Through a panel discussion, we will show how powerful it can be to actively engage with your low-income identity. We hope to answer questions about how to have conversations with friends and colleagues about being from a low-income family and how to talk to others about challenging events.
  • Revealing the “Hidden” Me: Sharing Our Class Backgrounds with the World Around Us
    Sometimes, we cover an important, but not always visible part of ourselves: our class. We find clothes that look expensive, but are actually cheap; we speak fondly about exquisite foods we never had growing up, but learned about recently; we talk about attending incredible colleges, without mentioning how much need-based financial aid we received. But at what point does this covering go too far? When we order a cheap plate at an expensive restaurant and our friends want to “split the bill,” do we explain why that’s a problem? When our colleagues ask us to travel to [insert faraway countries], do we tell them the real reason why we can’t go? In this panel, we’ll consider how public we should be about our class background – and how that changes depending on where we are in life and who we’re surrounded by.
  • Avoiding Poverty Porn: Sharing More Than a Story of Struggle
    Let’s face it – many of us are the “poster child” for our home communities because we “made it.” Compelling as our stories may be, we can easily fall into the trap of promoting a narrative that hard work alone can help any child succeed. People can become obsessed with our stories of struggle and hold us up as examples that meritocracy is real. How can we share our stories authentically – struggles included – without reducing our identity to, “Former poor kid who worked hard and made it”? At the same time, are there moments when it’s OK for us to reduce ourselves to that story, if it gets us access to spaces we’ve never been in before? In this session, we’ll think critically about when, if at all, it’s justified to play up the “poor kid” story – and conversely, we’ll discuss when we need to be vocal about the fact that more often than not, our stories represent the exception, not the norm.
  • Our Voices Matter: Advocating for Ourselves and Our Communities
    Many of us have found ourselves in situations where we wanted to say something, but simply couldn’t. And this is understandable. The reality is that we live in a world where some of us, simply because of how we look or where we come from, are viewed as “too emotional” or “too forward” or “too aggressive” when we speak up. How can we work through these challenges to better advocate for ourselves and the communities we care about? How can we develop a voice that resonates with people who are different from us, while still remaining true to who we are? We’ll explore these and related questions during this session, as we get one step closer to unleashing the power of our voices.
  • Let’s Have a Conversation About Difficult Conversations on Identity & Inclusion
    It’s not easy to call out problematic behavior at school or at work, especially when the behavior comes from a professor or supervisor. And sometimes, it’s even harder when it’s a peer. How can we best acknowledge unsettling behavior/comments that we see and hear? How much should we focus on making the person who made the bad comment feel comfortable, when they’re actually the one who discomforted someone else? In this session, we’ll have a conversation about difficult conversations. We’ll consider specific steps we can take to engage in difficult, yet important conversations, with the goal of helping individuals and institutions become more inclusive for everyone.
  • I Feel Like a Fraud: Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
    Sometimes life can feel like we’re walking delicately on eggshells: one wrong step and the world realizes that we’re not as smart, not as creative, not as impressive as they thought we were. So we freeze. We’re afraid to move – to speak up in class or take lead on that work project – because we fear messing up. We fear being exposed as “the fraud” who doesn’t deserve a seat at the table like everyone else. These feelings are normal. But they also limit our potential. In this session, we’ll figure out how we can fight that internal voice that says, “You’re not as good as the rest.” We’ll start by having a conversation about when and why we start to feel like an impostor. Then we’ll explore what we can do, specifically, to manage these feelings, so that we can go out and show the world just how much we have to offer.

Work and Career

  • Networking: It’s Not As Slimy As We Think
    We all know the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but sending cold e-mails, having coffee chats, and attending networking receptions can feel artificial and unnecessary. Still, social capital is needed to thrive in today’s world. What does it look like to network for good? How can we build and maintain real, meaningful relationships where everyone benefits? We’ll use this session to discuss the value of social capital, and the risks of taking networking too far. More importantly, we’ll consider how and when to leverage our relationships to advance our careers and make a greater impact on the world.
  • When My Career Path Makes a Pivot: Positioning Myself for Success
    The path to success is everything but linear. As we learn more about what we like and what the world needs, we’ll need to make pivots in our careers. But change is scary. What if we don’t know exactly what we want to do next? Should we test something that may be great at the risk of losing something that’s good? When is the right time to make a pivot at all? In this session, we’ll discuss criteria we should keep in mind when making career changes. We’ll also explore some non-traditional career paths to highlight how making a pivot (or 2 or 3!) can help us make a greater impact. Let’s figure out how to embrace – and more importantly, prepare for – the inevitable change that lies ahead in each of our careers.
  • Up or Out?: Crafting a Career Path That Works For You
    We all reach a moment in our careers when things are “good, not great.” Perhaps we’re doing good work for those around us, but not necessarily what’s good for ourselves. What do we do when we feel like we’ve stopped growing? Advocate for a promotion to move up in our current organization, or find a way out to pursue something different? In this panel, we’ll share ideas on how we can avoid stagnation in our careers – not just in terms of pay, but also in terms of our performance. Ultimately, we’ll aim to figure out how we can get the most out of our careers, and in turn, give the most we can to the world.

Wellness and Self-Care

  • From Ashes to Phoenix: Exploring Burnout
    As first gen and low income individuals tend to overwork to prove themselves, the topic of burnout has become increasingly relevant. We want to explore the ramifications of burnout in various stages of life. We hope to discuss how burnout happens, how to recognize it, prevent and mitigate it.
  • The Myth of Effortless Perfection: Acknowledging Our Failures and Growing From Them
    On social media, we see countless photos and posts about graduate school acceptances, job offers, and happy relationships. Stories of success dominate our newsfeeds, while stories of struggle are often invisible. At times, we end up comparing the worst of ourselves to the best version of someone else we see online. But many of us are struggling – with academics, work, relationships, and more. It’s just harder to talk about these struggles because they don’t fit into the image of “effortless perfection” that society has of us. How can we be more open about our setbacks and failures? In this session, we’ll have an honest conversation about the silent struggles many of us face, and think critically about how to reframe our failures as opportunities to grow.
  • Y’all, We Got This! Designing Your Life One Step At A Time
    Using the framework of New York Times Bestseller, “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, this workshop will include an internal audit and reflection of our personal and professional goals, and a mind mapping exercise of the next ~5 years of our lives. We’ll also analyze the effects of our past, our families, our traditions, our values and belief systems — and how those translate into our daily lived experiences. Finally, the workshop will encourage setting daily habits that will make it possible for us to create and attain our wildest dreams. Let’s do this!

Social Impact

  • Change from Within: Making a Social Impact from within Profit-Making Organizations
    While working in lucrative industries whose “bottom line” is making a profit, how can we advance our own “bottom line” of making a social impact? What’s the best way to leverage the immense financial and social capital within profit-driven organizations to improve outcomes for the communities we care about most? In this session, we’ll explore how to compel corporations to support social impact. At the same time, we’ll interrogate the idea that “doing good is always good business” and discuss the reality that there is often a tradeoff between making a social impact and making a profit. Let’s figure out how we can work “within the system” to change the mindset and practices of profit-driven organizations – for the betterment of the very communities that have shaped who we are today.
  • Tough Choices: Deciding Between a Lucrative Career to Help Loved Ones and an Impactful Career to Help the World
    We may not want to be millionaires, but we may need some extra money to support our loved ones. They spent years investing in us so we could gain access to great schools and careers, so we arguably must consider how we can use the privilege we’ve acquired to invest in and give back to them, too. But what if the more lucrative career is the less impactful one? Career decisions alone are not easy, and they become even more complicated when we consider how much of a financial obligation we have to the people that propelled us to where we are today. In this session, we’ll discuss how to strike the right balance between helping our loved ones and helping the world at large.
  • When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough: Exploring How to Make a Real Impact on the World
    “Effective altruism” has become a hot topic in recent years. The idea is simple: use evidence, data, and reason to determine which causes we should spend our time and money on. In this way, effective altruism challenges us to think critically about how to allocate our resources to have the greatest impact on the world. Still, while simple in theory, effective altruism may not be so simple in practice. What if there’s no data to support a cause that we care about? What happens when what’s “objectively” most effective doesn’t sit right with us? We’ll use this session to discuss the potential promise and perils of effective altruism, deepening our understanding of the best way to make a real impact on those around us.
  • Creative Social Impact: Innovating New Solutions in the Social Space
    People tell us that there’s no one way to make the world a better place, that we don’t have to work for the government or an existing nonprofit; that we can chart our own path; that we can be creative. But what does that actually mean in practice? For starters, what is a “nontraditional” or “creative” social impact path look like? How do we decide if that path is for us? And how do we go about pursuing it? In this panel, we’ll hear from individuals who found creative, compelling ways to improve the world around us – starting their own organizations, investing in innovative ideas, and so much more. Join us for an exciting conversation about how we can define and pursue the road less traveled to advance social good.

Money and Financial Literacy

  • Money Matters: Making “Cents” of Salary Negotiations and Negotiating the Salary You Not Only Need, But Deserve
    We know we want to make more than we had growing up, but just how much more? Should we settle for a salary that’s twice as much as what we had growing up, even if that’s just half of what some of our co-workers are making? How do we ensure that our salaries not only meet our basic needs and wants, but also reflect the amount of time and effort we’re putting into our jobs, as compared to our co-workers? Money talk isn’t easy, so let’s tackle some of these tough questions together. In this session, we’ll explore how to interpret a complicated compensation package, negotiate a salary, and ask for a raise. We know that if we don’t ask, the answer will be “no,” but let’s explore how to make the right ask to get the money we need and deserve.
  • More Money, More Problems: Navigating Difficult Conversations Around Finances With Our Loved Ones
    Money doesn’t affect just us; it affects our relationships too. When we have more money, our family and friends may expect us to support them more financially: sending money for utilities, helping a younger sibling pay for college, covering the bill at dinner, and the list goes on. But what happens when our family and friends define “needs” differently than we do? When we’re doing well financially, should we always spend money on – or send money to – our loved ones when they say they need it, even if it’s for something we wouldn’t spend money on ourselves? How do we create appropriate boundaries in our relationships when it comes to money, without making those that we care about dearly feel like we’re being “stingy” or “unfair”? In this session, we’ll discuss strategies for navigating uncomfortable conversations and situations around money, so that we can maintain healthier, more sustainable relationships with those who matter most to us.
  • Learning More, Spending Less: Making Graduate School Affordable
    Let’s face it – many of us are worried about going into debt for graduate school, especially after having most, if not all, of our undergraduate expenses covered. Are there full-ride scholarships for graduate school too? Can we get paid for doing research? How else can we cover the costs? During this panel, we’ll talk about some smart, creative ways we can save (and perhaps make) money while in graduate school. But we’ll also confront the hard truth that sometimes, spending money or working less is worth it to get the most out of the graduate school experience. Perhaps spending money on that research conference or joining a student trip isn’t so bad after all? Join us for an open conversation on how to make the most out of graduate school, while spending the least amount of money along the way.