2021 Harvard Business School MBA Section C Diploma Ceremony
Congratulations again to the class of 2021. You are now officially HBS graduates. Graduation day is my favorite day of the year.
I love seeing our students so happy. I love seeing their families and friends so rightly proud of their graduates and so excited about their bright futures. And we now come to my favorite part of my favorite day of the year, the diploma ceremony where we recognize each and every member of your section. As members of the class of 2021 and recognized, you'll hear mention of three kinds of honors. The first is distinction. This is for students who earned academic honors in both the first year and the second year of our program.
The second is high distinction. These individuals not only earned honors in the first year in the second year, they also had a combined academic performance that placed them in the top 5% of their class as a whole. These students are also known as George F. Baker Scholars, commemorating the individual whose generosity in the 1920s allowed us to build the campus.
I invite you to look at the Baker Scholars page on the graduation website to learn more about the legacy of George Baker and this particular distinction. Third and last, but by no means least, the Deans Award. The Deans Award celebrates the extraordinary achievements of graduating students who during their time at HBS made distinctive contributions to Harvard, to Harvard Business School, or the broader community. These students have contributed to the well-being of others through amazing acts of leadership. Students and all members of the community nominate these individuals and then Dean Datar makes the final selection. So please enjoy the diploma ceremony.
Celebrate each and every member of your section. I hope that your section will remain close through the years as mine has. And I hope that these two years at HBS will be just the beginning of an ongoing conversation among you as you enjoy long, happy years of making differences that are meaningful to you and meaningful for the world. Be well and stay close. Whoo.
Hey, there it is. OK, I'm back. Yes. The moment has come. So today, your talent and your hard work are being celebrated, rightly so. And tomorrow, you begin your next chapter, in which your gifts, your passions, your skills, will be put to good use, in serving your purpose.
So I want to spend just a few minutes honoring the fact that this phase of your journey is ending. And of course I hope, as Jan said, that all of us will stay in touch, you with each other, us with you. But this particular way of being together is ending. Our time on this beautiful campus is coming to an end. It has to end to make room for what comes next.
And I think that's worthy of our collective attention. Perhaps we've asked you too often to reflect on the words of poet Mary Oliver. Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life. But today is one of those days where like it or not, the question is terribly salient. I believe that with this education plus your talent comes real possibility, and with it, real responsibility, a responsibility to make the world a better place.
I happen to think this is a joyful responsibility. And I'm confident that all of you will do this in wonderfully varied ways. You'll work to make the world better not from some airy abstract place, but rather in the pragmatic and grounded way that MBAs are uniquely capable of. Teaching at HBS has taught me that business, management, can be a truly noble profession. Management serves as a vital force, a set of activities that truly matter in shaping the kinds of organizations and the kinds of society that we all want to work and live in.
I am in awe at times of what good managers do and what they have done to ensure the realization of bold goals and in the face of unbelievable challenges. So there's no limit to what you're capable of doing if you draw from a sense of purpose and, and this is important, embrace a stance of hope. With this, I think you're poised to play a role in building a different kind of world. And that's worth being hopeful about. I'm talking about hope, not optimism. The optimist treats the future as fate, not choice, and thereby fails to take responsibility for making the world that we want.
So hope is a choice. It's a conviction that it's always possible to make a difference. The most plausible argument for hope that I can think of on this day is the names that you're about to hear. And you're about to hear them read aloud to officially recognize your accomplishments. But I'm mindful of your struggles also and of your courage and your persistence in overcoming many hurdles before you came here and over the past two years.
I remember vividly the day we met, when you put together the section C puzzle in record time. Then we had to figure out what to do with the rest of that time block. And do you remember the reciprocity ring? I knew that you were a special group that day in the hives. Do you remember the hives? I barely do. All of us were blindsided by this global pandemic that altered the course of these two years for you.
But with whatever disappointment that may remain about that, I know that it's also made you stronger and better as individuals and as a group. I know you will not fall prey to thinking of yourselves as victims, but rather as resilient learners who were privileged to meet each other at this moment in time, to navigate this particular challenge together, as well as what comes next. Thinking about this group, section C 2021 gives me hope about the future. But one final thought. Hope requires fearlessness, courage.
Fear of specific and avoidable dangers has evolutionary value. Nobody's here whose ancestors weren't afraid of saber tooth tigers. But resist the temptation to be afraid to bring your full selves to what you do next and next after that.
Resist the temptation to hold back and to fail to offer willingly the gifts that each of you have to give. All of you have a role to play in making our collective future better. You will be practitioners, not theorists, doers, pragmatists, not specialists. You will succeed because you've learned how to use your brains and your hearts to solve messy problems, and because you've learned how to team, to move beyond the outmoded belief you have to do it alone. Resist the pull to worry too much about what people think of you, how you're doing on some score card that you imagine but cannot see. A life well lived is a life full of purpose, and relatively unconcerned about how you look in the eyes of others.
My hope for all of you is that you'll have the confidence that what you do and say matters to your colleagues, to your organizations, to the world. This confidence is vital, not only to your future organization's abilities to achieve results, but also to your own sense of well-being, engagement, and meaning. Now as you listen to each of the names that are about to be read aloud, I invite you to take them in with care and attention. Think about what each one of these individuals has contributed to your time here, some more, and some less to be sure, but all of them beloved members of section C. OK.
Over to the names. Whoo. [MUSIC PLAYING] Silvia Adam. Azeem Ahmed.
Whoo. Iani Alecsiu. Moni Alli. Chichi Anyoku. Mason Barrett.
Distinction. Brittany Becker. Hadas Bergman. Whoo. Ayush Bhargava. High distinction.
Amanda Black. Rebecca Braun. Whoo. Keta Burke-Williams. Tom Chen. High distinction.
Kevin Chenault. Whoo. Kangmin Cho. Whoo. Benita Chumo. Billy Clemons.
Distinction. Justin Coulter. Whoo. Wendy Cyffka. Spencer Dahl. Paul Donahue.
Caleb Donnelly. Distinction. Upoma Dutta. Alberto Elizondo. High distinction. Wow.
Michael Eriksson. Ryan Flamerich. Dean's Award recipient. Alec Forbes. Nimisha Ganesh.
Whoo. John Geagea. Ben Gelinas. Distinction. Nicole Giusti. Wow.
Nicole Granet. Whoo. Alex Green. Distinction. Sofia Guerra.
Whoo. Peter Gumulia. Mickias Hailu.
Travis Hinds. Whoo. Heather Jackson. Christine Jiang. Whoo. Nicole Kruijs.
Dominique Lacassie Viancos. John Lewis. Feiyue Li. Nehemias Luna. Camille McGirt.
Jamie Merkrebs. Whoo. Christopher Miller. Whoo.
Stephen Moch. [INAUDIBLE] Rei Morimoto. Giang Nguyen. Chris Nickelson. Rahim Noormohamed. High distinction.
Allie O'Shea. Jesse Pagliuca. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Max Pakapol. Whoo. Steven Povich.
Suneil Raghvan. Uwais Razack. Michael Ressler. Distinction. Marcus Rocha. Poonam Sacheti.
Anuja Samuel. Whoo. Raquel Schreiber. Jennifer Schultz. Whoo. Alexander Schuster.
Caroline Schwanzer. Jaba Shalamberidze. Mimi Sheng. AW Simmons. Anthony Simonetti. Anamika Singh.
Whoo. Kristian Tran. Bobby Tuohy. Poorvi Vijay. Whoo. Stephane Vukovic.
Nina Walker. Max Wexler. Cooper Williams. Tuedy Wilson.
Whoo. Lucas Yamamura. William Yeo. Whoo. Ryan Yu.
High distinction. Mike Zhai. Whoo. Charlie Zhang.
Yiwei Zhu. Wow. A round of applause for all of you. Spectacular. Those were just magnificent photos.
It's hard to say, but it might even be better this way to see your faces while hearing your names and recognizing your accomplishments. Almost substitutes for not being with you as you walk across that stage. So we have only one more thing to do.
And then I'm going to run out and see some of you on the sports pavilion. But I just wanted to close with some final remarks and then say we'll have a photo montage. And from that, we will end this part of the ceremony. So just some final thoughts about what I wish for you, which is not just hope but also an enduring sense of humility about the challenges that lie ahead, always. You will always face challenges. And a small part of you will always be wondering if you're up to them.
You are. You will be. But please connect with and stay connected with that sense of humility. It's the only rational response to what you face, and to what managers always face. So be curious with that humility comes curiosity.
Be curious about what others bring because your greatest accomplishments will start with skillful inquiry. And that won't happen without curiosity. And never lose your compassion, your empathy for what others are up against. Humility, curiosity, and empathy. Those will be your superpowers in an uncertain and awesome world.
Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for the hard work you've done. Thank all of your friends and family members for bringing you to us. And now it's time to celebrate.
Whoo. [MUSIC PLAYING]