Northeastern University’s 2018 D’Amore-McKim School of Business undergraduate commencement was held on Thursday, May 3, 2018 in Matthews Arena. Student speaker Suchira Sharma, DMSB’18, encouraged her fellow graduates to change the future with their D’Amore-McKim degrees. Sharma will join Hercules Capital after graduation as an analyst.
This is her speech in its entirety.
Good morning fellow graduates, distinguished guests, alumni, faculty, and family members.
I start today with a humble assertion: Northeastern did not prepare us for the future.
That’s right, the classes you’ve taken, the dialogues you’ve embarked on, the co-ops you’ve completed, and the travel that you’ve experienced, have not prepared you for what lies ahead.
Every late night, long day, and momentous milestone, including the one we take part in today, has done nothing to prepare us for our futures — it’s prepared us to change that future.
The story of Northeastern, is one marked, and driven by change. Change: this constant belief that what we strive to become must be greater than who we are now. But in order to achieve this change we seek, I ask you to remember three things the D’Amore-McKim School of Business has taught us:
1. The first is humility. C.S. Lewis put it perfectly when he said “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” While Northeastern continues to be a leader in the community and in the world, we do so by thinking of ourselves less. Putting others first, and leading by example. We’ve done this on Dialogues, and service trips. Spring breaks, and co-ops. Each opportunity, changing the future for the better.
2. The second is to be a creator. And I’m not just talking about our incredible entrepreneurs here — to every individual who has started a club, led a project, and advocated for change, this is for you. Thank you for engaging in action, not analysis. Punditry has ruined this world. Society’s role has been mistaken for being a gatekeeper of ideas. Northeastern has taught us to seek first to be someone who creates. To make your role in the spaces you occupy additive. And to create things that outlast you.
3. My final, and last charge to you is one that ought to be as everlasting as our great University. Take a stand. Take a stand when you are wrong — and be challenged and humbled in the scrutiny that comes. Take a stand when you are unsure — and seek refuge in those who strive to teach. And take a stand when you are right, for what is right. Northeastern has taught us that the moral imperative of action, falls on our shoulders. That there is no “someone else,” to carry the weight of what’s to come. There is only us, and the faith ourselves and our ability to seek change. So stand up.
I say all these things because I believe that this world that we seek to change, is at a dangerous precipice. Individuals often choose to be the referee, between two seemingly equidistant extremes. Our world does not need referees. D’Amore-McKim has not prepared us to be a referee. It has prepared us to be a crusader of truth. As future business leaders of the world, it is our jobs to ensure that once we leave the hallowed halls of this Institution, we do so with a higher duty to be part of the narrative of change. Not part of the narrative of complacency.
My favorite entrepreneur, Phil Knight, puts it best when we consider this ocean we have waiting ahead of us, “If you’re someone who wants to do something different, don’t be so naive that you assume people will just roll with your good intentions. You will be fought, and targeted and maligned and lied about every step of the way. You will feel like giving up and quitting all the time. If you don’t think you can handle this, if you expect pity or graciousness from people, then don’t even bother. If business is war without bullets, you must commit to being a warrior.”
Northeastern and the D’Amore-McKim School of Business have not prepared us for the future. They have prepared us to “do something different.”
To the class of 2018 — change the damn future. Be a warrior.