Celebrating Pride: Finding Each Scientific Measure of Happiness at UC Davis

Being involved with the LGBTQ+ community fuels my passion and engagement

According to an annual Gallup world poll of people in 140 countries, there are three measures of happiness in the world:

  1. Community engagement and passion
  2. Hard work and accompanying satisfaction
  3. Positive emotions

As it turns out, I found all three at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM).

Through many community events, one-of-a-kind work opportunities and lots of late study nights, I had the chance to complete the trifecta—achieving a special sense of joy. When I look back on how I did it, here’s what I found.

Community Impact—Locally and Nationally

June is PRIDE month and a time to celebrate and recognize our LGBTQ+ community. With this in mind, I spent some time thinking about my work and how it paid dividends personally.

Through various initiatives and events, I have impacted the LGBTQ+ community in many ways. Being involved with these events has helped me feel passionate and engaged, which is the first measure of true happiness.

2022 ROMBA conference team examines a conference room in Washington D.C.
Bagla and ROMBA's national steering committee tour facilities for the 2022 ROMBA conference, which will be held in Washington D.C. Bagla says, "The conference will take place in the same hall where the White House Correspondents' Association dinner takes place."

About a year ago, I started working as a member of the national steering committee of Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA). This provided me with a great platform to meet and learn from fellow students and LGBTQ+ MBA professionals. I also get valuable experience by moderating panels and workshops at the largest LGBTQ+ MBA conference in the world.

I am also working with Dean H. Rao Unnava to set up a ROMBA fellowship at UC Davis. This fellowship will provide $10,000 per year to a student in each year of their MBA journey and will grant access to a ROMBA retreat with fellow MBA students from other top schools. We plan to establish this fellowship for the 2023-2024 academic year 

It’s been incredible to see the support of Dean Unnava and the GSM community to help students and create solutions for LGBTQ+ issues. He was instrumental in helping me find alternatives when we met hurdles.

Finding Satisfaction Through Hard Work

My background is in agri-food and life science. I chose UC Davis because it is the world's premier food and agriculture research university. Academically, I decided to push my comfort zone and take on new, and sometimes intimidating, classes at the GSM.

The small class sizes at UC Davis became a blessing in this regard because I often had significant office-hour time with the world-renowned faculty.

It was hard work, but I had support along the way—leading me to find the second global measure of happiness.

I was also lucky to receive enriching work opportunities both on and off campus thanks to UC Davis connections, which I would not have found at any other b-school.

Institute of Food and Health partners with the GSM
This past year, Bagla (front, middle) had the chance to help the UC Davis Institute of Food and Health partner with GSM students and faculty to advance health initiatives.

This past fall, I worked with Davis-based venture catalyst, Biotech Innovation Gallery to develop an executive summary and pitch deck materials (market research, IP strategy, regulatory strategy, financial model, target product profile, branding and messaging) for startups selected to be a part of the Accelerator program.

In the winter, I worked with the UC Davis Innovative Institute of Food and Health to conduct market discovery forums that bring together leading scientific researchers on food-health topics to help commercialize products and services to achieve health outcomes.

In the spring, I enjoyed working as a teaching assistant for an undergrad immigration course. This was very relevant to my experience of being a student ambassador of Enterprise Ireland. And it helped me to further develop my skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience by leading weekly class discussions.

In addition to my co-curriculars, the skills I was able to develop in these roles helped me secure a summer internship with a major global consultancy firm.

Taking Control and Becoming a “Path-breaker”

As I’ve learned, there are two ways to go through life—you can passively work through avenues already set up for you, or you can be a path-breaker and create new opportunities. I realized that at the GSM, if you have the will, there is a way.

Rotman School of Management
Courtesy photo from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

I wanted to gain more international business experience. To further this goal, I worked with GSM to set up a new exchange program with the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. Through hard work and persistence, we were able to add this international program to the list of already great university partners.

I knew I would find unique benefits and advance my career prospects from this partnership, so I worked diligently with Sr. Director of Student and Academic Services Inger Maher to set this up record-time.

This partnership will help future UC Davis MBA students as well, and it was heartening to note that students in my cohort are already interested in pursing the exchange program with Rotman.

Globalizing My Experience

It was important to me to build on my international experience because my undergraduate and postgraduate were both completed in Ireland via University College, Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. This led me to the final measure of happiness—positive emotions.

Through collaboration, I’m excited for this next chapter of my educational journey. I have experience living and working aboard and thus look forward to another international opportunity with Rotman’s exchange program this coming fall.

As I reflect on my time at the Graduate School of Management, it’s become clear—no matter what happiness means to you—you can find fulfillment at UC Davis. An MBA is worth more professionally if, in addition to an academic foundation, you’re able to “get stuff done.” That could be through community engagement, partnerships or co-curriculars. It all pays off.

I’ve found worldly happiness here, and I know you can too.