Graduate students take center stage during convocation at NJPAC
Hundreds of Rutgers Business School students who pivoted dramatically when their graduate programs were impacted by a global pandemic, including many who juggled full-time work, childcare and remote course work during the COVID lockdown, graduated during a ceremony inside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
The May 19 convocation marked the return of tradition – the first in-person graduation for Rutgers Business School’s graduate programs in two years. While some 1,800 people, including nearly graduates, attended, more than 2,400 viewed the ceremony remotely via a digital live-streaming.
Sheila McGrath, senior managing director of Evercore ISI, opened her remarks by connecting with the crowd of graduating students. Thirty-three years ago, she said, she completed her MBA at Rutgers. “It provided me with the education in finance that proved to be so valuable,” she said.
McGrath provided highlights of her career in corporate real estate, including her attraction to REIT IPOs, a market which boomed through the 1990s. She was one of the first research analysts to co-head a new REIT research effort at UBS.
Based on her experience, McGrath shared a short list of career insights with the graduates. The first: target opportunities, especially in growing or new industries. She also encouraged them to continue learning, to make positive change within their companies, to network and to stay positive. "A good attitude is contagious," she said.
McGrath, who is a founding board member at the Rutgers Center for Women in Business, also encouraged the students to network and give back “through internships, introductions and advice.”
The graduating students from each of the school’s 16 graduate programs, including the MBA and Executive MBA programs, went to the stage one by one to accept their degrees and receive a celebratory elbow-bump from Lei Lei, dean of Rutgers Business School. Before they left the stage, each student received a handshake or an embrace from their program director.
Dean Lei acknowledged that the students had experienced challenges during their studies and reminded them that the qualities Rutgers Business School aims to instill – resilience, resourcefulness, and responsibility – had helped them and would continue to be differentiating qualities as they advanced through their careers.
“Be confidant that you have been fully prepared,” Lei said. “You can compete with any graduate of any business school in the country.”
As the ceremony came to an end, Can Uslay, vice dean of academic programs and innovations, asked the graduates to stand. He congratulated them on their new status. “Welcome to the 50,000 strong RBS alumni family,” he said.
And then a final roar of applause and cheering filled the theater.
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