Currently viewing the tag: "Commencement"

Of course we’re happy for our graduates!  How could we not be, after they’ve put in two years of hard work, capping their experience with marathon thesis-writing sessions?  But there are so many people we’ll miss!  As a result, these few days are marked by an atmosphere that is genuinely bittersweet.  We’re looking forward to Commencement weekend, while regretting that many of our favorite people will be moving on.

Every graduating class includes students who are special to the Fletcher faculty and staff.  Either they’ve made a strong mark on the School — inside or outside of the classroom — or, for the Admissions staff, we may have known them since their application days.  In any year, I could highlight any number of students who will be remembered long after they graduate.  Today, I want to give a moment of recognition to all the students who contributed more than their share of time to the Admissions Office.  I’ll call them the Friends of Admissions, and they are abundant in the Class of 2011.

Among the Friends of Admissions are those who have worked for us at a pay rate that could best be described as “partial compensation,” including Amy, Andrew, Chris, Cheney, David, Eddie, Sabah, and Vincent.  There are two-year interviewers, including Anthony, Barbara, Eugen, Fabian, Patrick (who, I believe, is everywhere at once), and Raquel.  And there are those who always make themselves available when we need them, including Fatema, who set the bar for School involvement by LLM students.  I’m sorry that a comprehensive list would be longer than this blog post will allow.

But while it is absolutely true that students help us get our work done, we value them even more for their enthusiasm, engagement, intelligence, kindness, and that sense we have that they’re building toward the time (coming soon) when they’ll be off doing wonderful things.  No matter how bogged down we may be, a day is always brighter when a Friend of Admissions strolls into the office to find out what we’re up to, or provide an update on the baby (Vincent), or ask whether one of their favorite interviewees has been admitted (Chris), or grab a piece of chocolate (Cheney).  We’ll miss you, Friends of Admissions!

To the Friends of Admissions and all other students who will graduate on Sunday, we wish you copious good luck in your post-Fletcher lives.  Please keep in touch!

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Every Fletcher Commencement features speeches by two graduating students who have been selected by their peers.  On Sunday, we heard from MIB graduate Poomsanti Wairith from Thailand, and MALD graduate Joshua Gross.  Both of their speeches included words of reflection and inspiration, simultaneously humorous and serious.  I asked if I could include a sample from each speech in the blog.  First to speak was Poom:

Do you still remember the first week, the orientation? I was constantly amazed and humbled.  With classmates who speak multiple languages, who have worked abroad extensively, and who have ambitious goals to “save the world,” I knew from the start that, “Wow! This will be the best two-year learning experience in my life.”  And you know what?  My time here has proved I was not wrong at all.

My first team was composed of a Thai economist, an American air-force veteran, a Singaporean navy captain, an Indian software engineer, and myself, an accountant. This became a common theme with all my teams throughout the past two years.  Working with such diverse groups has not only allowed me to gain broader and different perspectives, but also enabled me to learn about different cultures and how to work within a highly diverse environment. For example, did you know that not everyone puts fish sauce in everything they eat? I did not!

This two-year experience has been extremely satisfying for me. I came to Fletcher for the promise of a high quality and relevant education, an actively involved intellectual community, the opportunity to develop my personal and professional skills, and to make life-long friendships.  I received all of that.

Next up was Josh.  He started with an apology to the Office of Career Services for failing to perfect his “elevator speech.”   You know — the pitch you give to a potential employer when you happen to catch the same elevator.  He explained:

I have suffered from two years of elevator speech writer’s block. And to be honest, I don’t think any of us can explain WHO WE ARE in 30 seconds. We have too many interests, too many doubts, and too many plans to stuff into that awkward elevator ride….So I’m going to do you all a favor. I will attempt to compose an elevator speech for Fletcher. It will be an elevator speech for all of us, collectively, the MALDS, MIBs, LLMs, GMAPs, MAs, PhDs and MAHAs, one and all.

Josh then described how he boiled his experience and understanding of Fletcher into a simple answer, one that will serve future generations of students well.

“So, Fletcher, tell me about yourself…”

We are Fletcher. We doubt. We question. We Change Our Minds.
We are Fletcher. Nothing is black and white. Bring on the grey.
We are Fletcher. We are not strangers to sacrifice.
We are Fletcher. Our friendships have no borders.

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All the Admissions staffers are proud of this year’s graduates, but none more so than Kristen, who has a personal connection to every MIB student.  I asked her to share her feelings, as her first graduating class heads out.

Sunday’s graduation ceremonies marked an important milestone, not only for the graduating students, but for me as well. I have had the pleasure of working with the inaugural class of MIB students since they first expressed interest in the School. The first I can remember meeting, Alvaro Gimenez Gil, came by one summer day, just a few months after I started at Fletcher in 2006. He was so excited about this unique program that he actually put off his graduate school plans for one year, and waited until the program began in September 2008. Now he has officially graduated and is off to an exciting job in investment banking in Chile.

I have a story like this for each and every one of the 35 students in the first graduating class of MIBs, and I can’t imagine a more entrepreneurial, energetic, professional, and engaged bunch. They have been the best possible supporters of the program. They have taken the time to stop by our offices to let us know what has gone well, and what could use some improvement. Because of their input, the students who followed in the class of 2011 experienced a more refined curriculum, better class options, and a stronger advisory network. This is very much the Fletcher way — to respond to student feedback — and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Like Jessica mentioned in her last post, graduation can be a bittersweet time. It allows me to reflect on the work I am lucky to do here at Fletcher, and the people I am fortunate enough to work with — students, staff and faculty alike. It’s also sad to know that these students are about to scatter to the wind. Still, the pride I felt in seeing the culmination of four years of work, as embodied in the parade of MIB graduates across the stage, is undeniable, and I look forward to staying in touch with them to see what lies ahead.

Congratulations, class of 2010!

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Yesterday’s early-morning clouds disbursed, providing the Class of 2010 with a day that was both joyful and dry!  The University has already posted some quick photos and stories, describing the “all-University” portion of the event.  (You’ll find happy (and tired) Fletcher students in photos 16, 26, and 30.)  The Fletcher ceremony that followed included:  a welcome from Dean Bosworth; the awarding of several student awards; the introduction (by graduating-student Beka Feathers) of Prof. Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, the winner of the Paddock Teaching Award, and her speech; congratulatory and instructive words from elected student speech-givers Joshua Gross and Poomsanti Wairith.  And then, the happy moment when each graduating student was called up in turn to receive a diploma.

Commencement is always a lovely day, with just a bit of sadness mixed in.  I enjoyed seeing students in their spiffy finest, and meeting their parents, spouses, and friends.  I also noted just how many people I really could have (or, even, should have) included in Friday’s blog post.  What a great bunch of people!

By the time I arrived this morning, there was already a graduate waiting for a taxi to take him out of town.  The office has had a few early visitors, as they pull everything together before their travels.  A few graduated students will be around for part of the summer, helping us to weather the transition.  We’ll miss the members of the class of 2010, but we’re excited for what they’re about to achieve.  It was a great pleasure to send them off on such a beautiful and happy day.

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In just two days, the Fletcher class of 2010 will graduate.  Every class includes a few people for whom I feel a particular fondness or connection.  Sunday’s cap-and-gowned group is loaded with special people, many of whom you may have read about in the blog.  Allow me to mention just a few.

Going back two full years, there’s Hania Bekdash, who started work in the Admissions Office before she even started classes, and has been a member of our Admissions family ever since.

Then there’s Jessie Evans, who didn’t turn up at Fletcher until Orientation, but was a regular pre-matriculation presence on the blog.  During her two years here, Jessie helped bring us an annual bone marrow registry drive, a simple but invaluable means of engaging with the wider world.

Joshua Haynes visited on the day we set aside in February ’08 for admitted students who had applied by the Early Notification deadline.  He was the first real-live MIB student I had met.  (This is less strange than it sounds, since he is a member of the first MIB class.)  Not only has Joshua made as much of his time here as we ever could have hoped, but he holds this year’s unofficial record for languages in which he has passed the proficiency exam:  six (I think), including Mandarin and Arabic.

Another Admissions Office student staffer:  Jessie Smith.  As far as I can tell, there’s nothing she didn’t do while she was here!  Ski trips, Student Council, Ambassachords….The final confirmation that she had a hand in literally everything came when the first emails went out about the Diplomat’s Ball.  Surely she couldn’t be organizing that, too!  Oh, yes, she could.

Among other high energy students, Han Kim, who made the School proud when he whipped a Fletcher flag from the pack he carried all the way through the Boston Marathon last spring.  Han is heading out to a PhD program — apparently his Fletcher experience left him wishing for more reading and writing.

Rounding out the roster of graduating students who worked in the Office is Kristin Mencer.  Kristin could always be counted on for her good cheer and contagious laugh, even when she worked in the morning, which, she acknowledged, is not her favorite time of day.

The list of great members of the class of 2010 could go on and on. There’s Reuben Levy who, like Hania, started working at Fletcher before he was even a student; Greg Bertleff, who seems endlessly cheerful; Lola Adeyemo, whom I first met when she was a member of a group of undergraduates who came for a visit.  There are those I saw regularly, those I barely met, and those I learned about through their application and then kept a quiet eye on, always interested in learning what they would add to the community.  And, of course, there’s the long list of students to whom we feel truly grateful:  on behalf of the Admissions Office, they interviewed, on-line chatted, housed admitted students, and generally made our jobs doable.

The soon-to-graduate students in two-year programs (MALD and MIB) started their application process not quite three years ago.  Around that same time, my son, Josh, started his applications to college.  Watching/helping Josh, as he anguished over essays and anxiously awaited responses from his schools, helped me relate to Fletcher applicants.  Is this why I’ll especially miss the 2010s?  Or are they just an uncommonly special bunch of people?  Hard to say, but I know that I hope to hear from them soon, and often, as they go off to change the world.

Congratulations, graduates!  We’ll miss you!

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