2021 Harvard Business School MBA Section E Diploma Ceremony
Section E, welcome to each and every one of you, your families, your friends, and all of your loved ones near and far for your virtual diploma section of today. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Tsedal Neeley. And I had the privilege and honor to be Section E's faculty for the leadership and organizational behavior course, affectionately called LEAD. And so we're here to celebrate your amazing accomplishments as newly-minted HBS graduate, which means that you're also about to join our alumni community. And I am just so grateful for it. And I want to make sure that I thank all of your friends, your families, your loved ones, your mentors, your cheerleaders who are here today.
Thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for the grace that you had to show when two, three months into HBS your loved one started to speak a different language-- skydeck and protagonist and jargon after jargon.
You didn't know what they were talking about. But you knew it was kind of an HBS thing. But most of all, we know how much sacrifice, support, and love it takes to make it through this place. So we thank you so much.
And graduates, if your loved one is near you, can you please give them a big hug right now-- a big hug and say thank you right this moment, because you're graduating, but they facilitated. And, Layla, your little guy could be part of that too. So we want to just take a moment and love the ones who love us to get us through this place. And if you're with your loved ones, let's just take that moment. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you, mom, dad, everyone. So Section E-- E for exceptional-- I have some images that I'd love to share with you as we think back to how you started at HBS. And, Edgardo, if you can help with these images, that would be awesome. And the thing that I love is your friendship, your support for one another, your time in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I love how every single time Brendan had to make a comment, he brought Jamal into it.
Remember that? I don't know if it went away eventually. Look at the laughter. Look at the connections, the exploration's. This is how you began.
And I have no idea what Brett was saying on that day. Nick, Erica, David, this is how you were before class. This is how you were after class. But if you remember this image too, Section E, you are also a YouTube sensation. And it's in fact-- you can unshare, please-- in fact, the interesting thing for me is that I didn't become cool in the eyes of my children until that YouTube video came out.
And so it was also incredibly important, because at that time when we filmed this, and you agreed to give the world a peek into what the HBS class discussion looked like, early in your time, no one had any idea that this would be the only real and current footage that we had to show prospective students and faculty of what HBS would be like. You therefore, not only became so important to demonstrate what HBS was about, but I'll tell you this. Our applications to HBS exploded in numbers.
The most diverse pool of applicants we'd ever seen. We had students who said, I want a seat at HBS, thanks to you. We had faculty who said, I want to teach in that classroom, thanks to you. And so 4 million almost, and it's going to continue. And I know many of you have gotten all sorts of unsolicited notes and mail through social and other things. But that's part of what you're leaving behind at HBS is this glimpse into what the classroom can be like.
And we so needed it. So that's another part of your step to this amazing journey and institution. But little do we know at that time that there would be this microscopic agent, COVID-- COVID-19 that would just show up and turn our world upside down-- a global pandemic, the type that none of us ever witnessed in our lifetime. And everything changed.
Everything changed. At the same time, we saw all sorts of social, economic, and political upheaval here in the US and around the world. The world that you are entering today is not the world that you started out with. And there's been a loss. There's been grief. But there's also been a ton of opportunity.
And this section-- boy, we usually say, go do amazing things. But many of you started to do amazing things while you were at HBS. And my deepest, deepest hope is that you'll continue to do that with courage, with boldness, without any fear, even while there's so many questions that are unanswered for yourself and maybe for many others you'll be guiding, questions about how we're going to work are at the forefront of our minds. Questions about how we're going to live are very much at the forefront of our minds. Question about purpose-- what we do should matter.
Questions about how do we contribute, not only for now, but for later. But what I know is that you showed up with such large aspirations two years ago. And I hope that you continue to have those aspirations, have big ambitions, not small ones. And go for it, in knowing that you actually have each other. You have each other forever.
When you need support, when you need a friend, when you need an investor, you have each other, and you should remember that. In just a minute, you will each hear your names and your diploma. And before we do that though, you will hear a word from Jan Rivkin, who will have a message for some of us and will continue with our program. So let's watch Jan and come right back and continue. Congratulations again to the class of 2021.
You are now officially HBS graduates. You know, 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 are recognized, you'll hear mention of three kinds of honors.
The first this distinction. This is for students who earned academic honors in both the first year and the second year of our program. The second high distinction. These individuals not only earned honors in the first year and 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 Dean's Award. The Dean's 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 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. Can we unmute and make some noise? We have so many awards in this section. We have Baker Scholars, Dean's Award recipients, high honors recipient.
Unmute and let's give everyone a real applause. I want to hear some noise. [CHEERING AND APPLAUSE] Congratulations for those of you who are among the ones with the honors. And now, we're going to watch the diplomas. And what I'll ask you to do as you watch this and hear your name, remember this moment.
Remember this moment. Remember who you're with. Remember who you're texting, who you're laughing with.
Remember this moment so that 5 years, 10 years, 15 years from now you remember the moment you heard your name as you graduated with your loved ones. Let's play this. Claire Ahn, Nicholas Almeida.
Spencer Anderson. Kimberly Bacon. Javon Bea. Andrea Bertoni. Niharika Bhargava.
Drew Bloom. Maria Blumenfeld. Claire Branch, high distinction.
Lauren Buchanan. Brendan Buckley. Yvonne Cardenas. Will Chavey, distinction.
Jamal Cherry. Ellen Chisa. Kristen Clifford, distinction. Danielle Cosentino.
Sophie Critchfield-Jain. Audrey Croci. Parker Davis. Grant Demeter.
Eddie Eid. Miguel Furian Campos. Vemi Giwa-Amu.
Ian Gutwinski. Dio Handoyo. Sam Harris.
Sayed Hassaballah. Allison Hung. Siyar Isik. Izosa Ize-Iyamu.
Vinamra Jain. Lakshmi Kallambettu. Katherine Kamis.
Jason Kingdon. Ravi Kurani. Joao Paolo Laager.
Lincoln Lamberton. Maria Lappas. Jack Lawson.
Maxine Lewinz, distinction. Reshma Lutfeali. Alejandro Martinez.
Jake Meister. Dominic Mitchell. Nick Murlo. Ryan Newell. Martha Obasi.
David Odell. Junga Park. Woo, Junga. Erica Payne. Daphne Pham. Tuka Rentsen.
Ryley Reynolds. Nicholas Rosenbaum, high distinction. Muhammad Safdari. Efraim Saltzman. Jack Smith, high distinction.
Robert Stallard. Michael Stocks. Mari Tabata. Josephine Tan.
Carla The. Lailah Thompson. Kristie Tom. Marie Vasseur, distinction. Patrick Vocke, high distinction.
Lydia Wang. Jake Weisenthal. Kamal Wheeler. Ronnie Wimberly, Dean's Award recipient. Shelly Xu, distinction. Wendy Zhao.
Jane Zhu. Congratulations, everyone. Wasn't that amazing to see? Shelly, how's my hat, by the way? It's a weird hat I have to wear every year. But, Shelly, maybe you can help me [INAUDIBLE]..
If you all can mute, that will be terrific, because we actually have-- I started out by saying hug and thank those who helped you get here. So what we're going to do next is actually watch a montage of your families and loved ones [AUDIO OUT].. I think the host muted me. I don't know how long ago that is. But what I was saying is that we're going to watch a montage of your families and loved ones, which is a spectacular place to bring our time together to a close.
Here's what I'll say. We are going to leave this Zoom room open so that you can connect with one another. And so Jack, your last presidential task-- we'll make you host. And so you can keep it open, and folks can get a chance to say hello and meet your family members, and your loved ones, and your friends, and your little cousins, and your boo before we part ways today.
So let's watch this montage, and we'll come to our conclusion. [MUSIC PLAYING] Well, this is the time where we conclude the formal part of our time together. What a privilege, what an honor to spend this time with you as you transition into our alumni group. And here's what I'll say to you. Think of HBS as a place for lifelong learning, lifelong friendship. So I hope you'll stay in touch with HBS.
Stay in touch with me as well. Keep me posted on all that you're doing, big or small. Hopefully, all good, nothing bad.
And ultimately, take time for yourself too. Take care of yourself. The last two years have not been simple or easy. And the world is still where it is. Take care of yourselves so you can take care of others. And as I closed the Cynthia Carroll case, here's what I'll say.
I know you're going to make big contributions to the world, not only because you can, because I know you will. Bye, everybody. Take care.
[INAUDIBLE] all you now.