Spring 2021 Commencement Celebration | UF Warrington College of Business
[Pomp and Circumstance playing] [Bloom-Lugo] Greetings, UF Warrington Graduates, families, friends, and loved ones! Welcome, to our Spring 2021 Warrington College of Business Virtual Celebration, where we will recognize our Warrington students graduating this semester. Today we celebrate you …and applaud the resilience and determination you’ve shown as you’ve completed your UF degree. This celebration was created to individually recognize Spring 2021 Warrington graduates who chose to be recognized virtually. As each of you are individually recognized, we encourage you to celebrate with those surrounding you on this special day. On behalf of the faculty and staff, we’d like to congratulate you and wish you continued success as you embark on your next chapter. Greetings and Congratulations, Gators! [Mitra] My name is Saby Mitra, and I am the Dean of the Warrington College of Business.
I am delighted to welcome our graduates, and their families, friends and loved ones from around the world to today’s commencement ceremony. Graduates, today we celebrate you and the completion of this part of your UF journey. As graduates who will soon embark on your next chapter, you may have feelings of excitement, anticipation and even apprehension.
Nine months ago, I had similar feelings when I came to the Warrington College after spending 27 years at my previous academic institution. I came to the Warrington College because of the many bright futures I see here. As the flagship university in a large and growing state, UF and Warrington attract the best students, who bring their diverse backgrounds and experiences into our classrooms and community. Like others before them, I know that our students will have rewarding careers as leaders of all types of organizations around the world.
We are also surrounded by a renowned faculty, who are true experts in their disciplines, with stellar research that elevates the reputation of the Warrington College of Business. Throughout my time at Warrington, I have been so impressed by our talented staff and the incredible commitment of our alumni. There is something special about the Gator Nation.
The future of the Warrington College is very bright, and I look forward to what we will continue to accomplish together. The past year has been challenging for all of us. Even during these challenging times, Warrington students have worked diligently to make the world around them a better place. Some Warrington students helped Accenture Federal Services create a tool to detect bias in AI systems, while others created a certification process that allows businesses to show they are following federal health guidelines in the time of COVID-19.
Our students also created a new student organization to provide professional development and community engagement for African-American students, thus contributing to Warrington’s mission of providing a more diverse and inclusive environment for all our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. While these are just a few of many examples, they demonstrate that innovation and progress are always top of mind for Warrington students, even during these unprecedented times. Through Warrington’s own unique career coaching program, our students are heading off to begin their careers with employers such as: Microsoft, Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Raymond James, and many other national and international organizations. Our faculty and staff have played a key role in helping our students achieve their academic success.
During the last year, our team at Warrington has been engaged in countless conversations about how we can continue to deliver a world-class experience and education to our students while facing a constantly evolving situation. Our faculty and staff have shown some of the greatest skills, expertise, and dedication that I have seen anywhere in my career. We thank them for their contributions to our students, and to the University of Florida. Graduates, during your time at UF, you have balanced the rigors of a demanding academic program, extracurricular activities, a job search, your social lives, and for some of you, a full-time job and family. But here is the good news.
Many years from now, the hard work and sleepless nights will be a distant memory. However, you will surely reap the benefits of the knowledge you have gained and the connections you formed here for a lifetime. I would also like to commend you for completing your degree at a time when the world has been confronted with unprecedented challenges. In the face of great adversity, you have cleared a major hurdle on the road to success and made us all proud. You have done it by showing flexibility, resilience, understanding and compassion.
You have a lot to be proud of and celebrate. Now let’s take a moment to hear a few words from one of our Warrington alumni. [Madhani] Welcome faculty, parents, friends, relatives, and most importantly, welcome graduates to the 2021 commencement ceremony of the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. Graduates, you did it. You’re finally here on your commencement day, a day you’ve been looking forward to for years.
For the next 24 hours, I ask that you mute the world. Set aside the craziness and uncertainty of what comes next, and soak in all of your well-deserved glory. My name is Suneera Madhani, and I was given the honor to be your commencement speaker today because years ago, I was just like you – a UF Warrington College of Business student with big dreams, aspirations and a vision to change the world in my own way. You see, I’m an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur that just like you today had every card stacked against them, and against all the odds, I turned a rejected idea into Florida’s most successful startup: Fattmerchant, a payment technology company now doing billions in payments. I became an “overnight success,” eight years in the making.
I became the most influential woman in payments in a completely male-dominated industry. I raised over $100 million in venture capital, when less than 1% of venture capital goes to minority founders. It’s hard to win against the house when the odds are stacked against you, but I want you to know it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
It’s possible – if you play your cards right. Here are a few of the top lessons I learned in business that can help you beat every odd that comes your way. Number one: know your why.
Your why is the reason you worked so hard to get here. It’s what keeps you motivated, consistent, and showing up; your why is mightier than the challenges ahead, and your why is what keeps you going on days when there is nothing left to give. When you show up for that why, you will win every single time. Number two: bet on yourself.
Even when others tell you no, don’t be afraid to be confident in your vision, and you’ll be surprised at how soon others will follow. Number three: you can’t be committed to your dream and your comfort zone. Comfort is the enemy of growth.
Anything you want is life is waiting for you on the other side of consistency. There are zero shortcuts to hard work: hard work is the shortcut. Number four: You need people who will celebrate with you when you’ve crushed the odds, who will hype you up and remind you of your why, and who will bet on you when you may forget to bet on yourself. Nurture these relationships and future ones.
Number five: As you become a great leader, become a great leader in every aspect of your life and lead. Lead with an open heart, with vulnerability, and most importantly, lead with empathy. Let go of resentment, be kind and stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Winning is fun, but winning with friends is even better. UF Class of 2021, remember that there is no such thing a billion-dollar idea, only a billion-dollar execution. As you figuratively and literally close the book on this chapter, know that tomorrow is day one, and the real work begins to know your why, continue to learn, and to of course bet on yourself and your superpowers.
When you do that, the odds will always be in your favor. Go Gators, and congratulations to the UF graduating class of 2021! [Mitra] Graduation is a time of special significance when we celebrate the academic and personal achievements of our graduating students. We are here today to honor those individuals, who through their academic talent and perseverance, are receiving degrees from the University of Florida. We also recognize that this is an important time for your family and friends.
Graduates, please take this opportunity to give gratitude and respect to those in your lives who have helped you reach this important milestone. At this time, we have come to the part of the program you have eagerly awaited, the individual recognition of our graduates. As a college, Warrington embraces this opportunity and we eagerly applaud your accomplishments. We will now begin the recognition of our graduates. The graduates who are individually recognized in today’s celebration are those who self-selected to be included.
All degrees have been officially conferred at prior in-person ceremonies this weekend. It is my pleasure to congratulate the entire University of Florida, Warrington College of Business Spring Class of 2021. [Name Reading: Jamie Kraft] [Mitra] Welcome to the Gator Nation, graduates! The faculty and I wish you happiness and success in all your future endeavors. Your success is vital to the future of the Warrington College of Business.
As alumni, your alma mater expects you to be engaged and involved. Whether on campus or in cities around the globe, you serve as a powerful voice for Warrington. No matter where your Warrington degree may take you, we wish you all the best. As always, Go Gators! [Alma Mater playing]