Hundreds of students celebrated the completion of graduate programs during a ceremony at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Hundreds of students celebrate new degrees at graduate program convocation

Rutgers Business School celebrated the graduation of nearly 800 graduate students who completed a Master of Business Administration, a specialized master’s program or a doctoral degree in business administration.

Inside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the graduating students of the Class of 2024 were encouraged to be authentic and confident in their ability to succeed by Keith Banks, an alumnus of the Rutgers economics program and a former vice chair at Bank of America.

Banks, a first-generation college student, focused his convocation remarks on his earlier self, when he was learning the value of hard work by the examples set by his parents and the parents of friends. After achieving academic success at college and earning his MBA, Banks went on to fulfill his ambition of working on Wall Street.

Keith Banks, a Rutgers economics alumnus and former vice chair of Bank of America, delivered the 2024 address to Rutgers Business School students completing graduate programs.
Convocation Speaker Keith Banks, an alumnus of the Rutgers economics program.

His career included leadership positions at JP Morgan, FleetBoston, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. He retired in February.

“If me, why not you?”  Banks said.

MBA student Anju Thottakara rings the school bell, a Rutgers Business School tradition. Thottakara served as president of the Student Government Association for graduate students in the Class of 2024.
MBA student Anju Thottakara rings the school bell, which traditionally opens and closes the graduate program convocation. Thottakara served as president of the Student Government Association for the Class of 2024.

Banks told the crowd that nothing separates them from the graduates of Ivy League schools who they might be competing with for jobs or working with in the workplace. “All that matters is getting results,” he said. “Rutgers students know how to deliver results. For all of you, it’s game on.”

“Your competitive advantage is you,” Banks said.

Vice Dean of Academic Programs Shen Yeniyurt taking a selfie photograph as the convocation ceremony opened.
Shen Yeniyurt, vice dean of academic programs and learning assurance, takes a moment to capture the crowd of graduating students with a selfie.

Before the ceremony officially began, finance professor Morris Davis and his band Porch Pirates provided a high-energy, mostly 80’s rock musical backdrop. The band continued performing during the event with a rendition of the national anthem and pomp and circumstance.

Dean Lei Lei reminded the graduating students of the challenges they overcame as they pursued their studies – a global pandemic, a shift from online courses to in-person classes and the introduction of new technologies as part of their classwork.

RBS Dean Lei Lei congratulates one of hundreds of graduate students who celebrated the completion of master's programs.
Dean Lei Lei congratulations one of the hundreds of students who received degrees for completing graduate programs .

“Remember,” she told them, “You carry the strength of the RBS brand. You are expected to be team players. You are expected to be leaders and life-long learners.”

“You won’t be measured by how much you make, but by the value you create for others,” she said. 

Graduating student Abhi Vyas was marking the completion of a Master of Science in Digital Marketing – his third master’s degree and one he pursued to enhance his skills as a marketing professional.

Professor Stacy Smollen-Schwartz congratulating a student.
Professor Stacy Smollen-Schwartz congratulates a student graduating from the Master of Science in Digital Marketing Program.

“I believe you should never stop learning,” Vyas said. “I think this degree makes you someone who has authority, a subject matter expert.”


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