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Congratulations, Class of 2021! We’ve made it through another year of this unprecedented pandemic challenge, and you’ve reached your commencement celebration with resiliency, courage, and determination. While many of you will be at Fenway Park to commemorate this milestone in person, my D’Amore-McKim colleagues and I are sad that we cannot have our traditional school ceremony at Matthews Arena. We have done so much as a community to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and I’m extremely proud to be among all of you who have cared so deeply about Protecting the Pack. 

It is so important to me for you to know that you are all an immense source of pride for us. You engaged and challenged yourselves as you explored new intellectual and professional goals, and you have truly persevered through adversity. I am not the only person who believes this and wants to share this message with you. For instance, members of the D’Amore-McKim Board of Visitors have been telling me this every time I meet with them, so I asked them to share some advice and words of wisdom with you on this special occasion. Following are some of the tremendous messages I received that highlight your impact on our college, our university, and the world: 

Congratulations! As D’Amore-McKim graduates, you have the opportunity before you to own your future, lead by example, and change the world. How exciting! Still, I am sure some of you are wondering what that future might look like given the pandemic and state of our world today. Well, perhaps you don’t have to look too far for some inspiration. As I look back at the past 18 months, I think about the comparison between different organizations and how they responded during the pandemic (excluding those who were significantly advantaged, or grossly disadvantaged). And what I have observed is that the organizations and institutions that refused to use COVID-19 as an excuse are the ones now thriving and have leapfrogged the competition. They didn’t pull back or hunker down to weather the storm. Instead, they embraced the opportunity and charged forward. They ‘went to school’ on what it truly means to be a digitally-enabled organization; they embraced social change and diversity; they invested heavily in the wellbeing of their most precious asset: their people. As a result, they emerged stronger and more competitive. 

Maybe this sounds familiar to you as what, you too, have done these past 18 months in your own journey. It certainly seems that way to me, as I have had the opportunity to join you and the team at D’Amore-McKim on that journey and watch you turn adversity into opportunity. (Abraham Lincoln said,) ‘Bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing…’ My challenge for you is to continue to embrace opportunity and be so good at what you do that no one can ignore you!  

William D. Barbo, Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Charles River Laboratories  

As a long-standing member of the D’Amore-McKim Board of Visitors, I extend my heartfelt congratulations on reaching this milestone in your career! For the past two academic years, you have weathered a great number of challenges that have tested your resolve, resilience, and professional maturity. You have risen to the occasion by turning adversity into opportunities for growth and innovation. Your in-depth experiential learning at Northeastern has prepared you well to jump into the workforce feet-first. 

As employers, we face many of the same challenges and hurdles, and (we) need talented new professionals to propel our businesses to the next level (by) leveraging your experience, best-in-class thinking, (and) technology and business intelligence. We also need your social consciousness balanced with meeting business goals and objectives. Your skills and experience, gained via the Northeastern experience, make you highly desirable and viable candidates in today’s employment marketplace. Wishing you every success! 

Joseph N. Gibbons , Managing Director, Hastings Executive Consulting 

As you embark on the exciting journey ahead, always remember (that) it is just that…. a journey and not the pursuit of one clear destination. Be sure to be self-aware and work to understand yourself as much, if not more than, your understanding of the work ahead. Your inner journey is the power of who you are and can be. You set forth grounded in an amazing education, incredible networks of friends and faculty, and a framework that will guide you well into the future. Stay connected with others, since beyond the opportunities that present themselves, the constant will always be the support system around you.

This year has brought so many challenges and realities, but the one to hold most dear is the need for community – the value to support, to collaborate, and (to be a) team is the future. Embrace and lead the way for those who will come after you as well, (while) creating that future. Go forth with a strong back (and) the power of what you know, but also with a soft front that is open to experimentation, possibility, and heart. You have accomplished much, and there is such an amazing road ahead – practice patience and pause to be present amongst all the things that drive us to distraction. Stay true to yourself and be a model for others – we need more great models in the times ahead, and you have the power to lead the way. And most importantly, be a warrior for humanity – our world is depending on you. You are all amazing! 

Deborah A. Hicks, Principal, Deb Hicks & Associates, LLC 

Arguably, this past year has been the most difficult many of our graduates have ever experienced in their learning journey. Having to so quickly adapt to learning remotely without the benefit of meaningful social connection has been a significant emotional burden for so many. But there is the silver lining of sorts. In the past 14 months, you have developed in real-time a new muscle that will serve you well as you enter the world—RESILIENCE. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, to stay strong and focused through change and disruption. Today, every company is being disrupted at an extraordinary pace. All of us responsible for securing the talent our companies need are desperately looking for that resilience in our employees. Without that ability to manage, respond and lead through change, we will be unable to meet the demands of the future. For those of you who have survived, and perhaps flourished, this past year, I can assure you that you are well equipped to respond to what lies ahead. Any company will be fortunate to have you.  Congratulations to you all!

Dolph Johnson, Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Hasbro, Inc. 

As I think of the D’Amore- McKim Class of 2021 (and) as a proud NU alumnus, I have nothing but extreme admiration for all of you. What you have endured in the final phase of your journey at NU is literally unprecedented! Heading into your wonderfully exciting opportunity on Huntington Ave., one could never in a lifetime have painted a picture of what the last year-plus of your experience would look like. For certain you have heard this several times over from loved ones, professors, mentors, and employers during the “pandemic period” of your time at D’Amore-McKim, but it’s worth repeating: you truly will be stronger in many ways for enduring and making the most of an experience we all thought was part of ancient history. As you cross into the next phase of your life, I encourage all of you to attack each day with the same vigor you always have, replete with a touch of humility and a sense of humor. All the best and GO HUSKIES!” 

Brien J. Moriarty, Vice President, BNY Mellon Wealth Management 

You have been given a lifelong gift of an amazing education and experiences. Now is your opportunity to give back to your world, and through that giving, (you) will continue to give yourself ongoing life education and experiences. Be brave enough to challenge and change those things that better everyone or even a someone when you have the ability or even a voice to be heard. Do not wait. They can be major, like questioning and recommending pay inequity fixes to a member of the C-suite, or supporting someone who cannot be heard and giving them a voice. You have more power than you know and can influence at any level with the credibility and passion you have developed, strengthened, and achieved through Northeastern. Be strong. Be game-changing. Think, act, model, inspire, and BE the next level of executive, business owner, and overall human you can be since every day is the future for you.  You have the intellect but always show your passion and heart. That is what every person you meet will remember about you, and will always drive your version of life, love, and success.    

June S. Youngs , Vice President, Corporate Logistics (retired), CVS Health 

I echo all of the sentiments expressed by these great leaders and friends. The D’Amore-McKim education you have received will always bestow upon you the well-deserved assumption that you are smart, hard-working, and well trained for the future of work, which was reflected in many of the messages above. I’m confident you will do great things professionally, and you will be helping to re-write the business playbook as we further embrace digital transformation. You have been trained to do this. You know what it means to change course, pivot, and make the right decisions depending upon the circumstances. As you work to control your narrative, please remember to be kind to others – kindness is a virtue that will serve you well, because the world needs more great kind leaders. 

As always, I wish you and your family best wishes and good health. Thank you for being such wonderful ambassadors for D’Amore-McKim. Make us proud. 

Raj Echambadi
Dunton Family Dean
D’Amore-McKim School of Business

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