Masters and doctoral graduates in the School of Business were honored in the Smith Center Friday.
Speakers urged business school masters and doctoral graduates to focus on a balance of achieving personal gains, like salary raises and promotions, and remaining kind and generous during their next phase of life.
Keynote speaker and alumna Susie Selby, who runs a winery in California, said graduates should be open to finding their passion after graduation. Selby said she did not fall in love with the wine industry until years after she graduated, when she swapped her marketing career for wine making.
“To those of you who haven’t yet found your passion, be open to life and let your passion find you,” Selby said.
Selby recalled a piece of advice from a former professor, who said degrees give graduates the ability to problem solve and the confidence to “pursue any and all endeavors.” She said the professor’s insight stuck with her when she decided to open a winery.
“I found myself thinking of what our professor said here to us on our last day of school: there are two things that this degree can give you,” she said. “Now I remember this well because I thought one of them would be a job.”
She added that graduates should seek to be kind amid any future success. Selby said she once spent several hours helping a customer learn about different types of wines and learned that he had just landed a job as an usher for former President Bill Clinton. Since their interaction, Selby’s wine has been served in the White House during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, she said.
“Kindness has its own reward, sometimes even the smallest acts can be far reaching and have unexpected consequences,” Selby said.
Student speaker Atima Shahi encouraged students to engage with people who are different from them and to value interpersonal connection.
Shahi said she moved from India to the United States two years ago with a couple of suitcases and a backpack, and students from the business school welcomed her as soon as she arrived.
“My single greatest takeaway from my time at GWSB is that people define your experiences,” she said. “If you are willing to open your hearts and minds to those around you, there is no limit to how much you can grow.”
She encouraged graduates to prioritize ethics over monetary rewards and to advocate for issues like equal pay in their future careers.
“I have no doubts that we will succeed no matter where life takes us, but today’s world does not need great bankers, great consultants or great researchers as much as it needs kind, considerate individuals,” Shahi said.
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