The crowd attending Rutgers Business School's 2022 graduate program convocation inside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

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.

Read about the Rutgers Business School-New Brunswick convocation and the Rutgers University-Newark graduation ceremony, which included Rutgers Business School-Newark.

Shield McGrath, a senior managing director at investment banking advisory firm Evercore ISI, delivered the keynote address at the Rutgers Business School graduate program convocation.
Convocation Speaker Shiela McGrath offered the graduating students "relevant advice" to remember as they launch into new careers.

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.”

Rutgers Business School Dean Lei Lei offered elbow bumps to each of the graduating students.
Dean Lei Lei offered celebratory elbow bumps to each student as they were presented with their degrees.
A Rutgers Business School graduate pauses center stage to celebrate his accomplishment.
A graduate pauses center stage to celebrate his accomplishment.
Rutgers Business School professor Rudi Lueschner takes a celebratory selfie with graduate Kathalina Tapia.
Professor Rudi Leuschner, director of the online master's program in supply chain management, takes a celebratory selfie with graduate Kathalina Tapia.

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.”

Rutgers Business School professor Stacy Schwartz embracing a graduating student from her program during convocation.
Professor Stacy Schwartz, director of the online Master of Science in Digital Marketing Program, embraces graduate Melysha Acharya during convocation.
MBA graduate Evan Gerbino ends the graduate program convocation by ringing the school bell.
Tradition returns: MBA Evan Gerbino, who received the dean's Distinguished Leadership Award, rings the school bell to end the convocation ceremony.

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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