The 2021 D’Amore-McKim School of Business class high-five each other and congratulated each other at a graduation ceremony that encouraged them to build an inclusive economy, think beyond boundaries, and seek purpose beyond a paycheck.

“Always remember that money is the reward, never the end,” said Emery Trahan, Interim Dean of the Business School and Professor of Finance. “Excellence in what you do will bring you everything you need and more.”

The resilience built during the pandemic, he added, will encourage graduates to solve problems after leaving a university where they have studied with and from a wide variety of people.

The graduates moved to the Matthews Arena to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by a five-person live brass ensemble. Photos by Matthew Modoono / Northeastern University

“Please continue to raise awareness of the importance of diversity, inclusion and belonging, and continue to work to remove systemic barriers to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy,” said Trahan at the ceremony on Friday.

Masters degrees were awarded in areas such as accounting, taxation, finance, international business, and business administration. When the students were called on stage to take their degrees, parents and family members held phones up to capture the moment. One graduate wore a US flag satin sash around her shoulders.

Speakers at the 2021 graduation ceremony encouraged future business leaders to build a more inclusive economy that works for all. Photos by Matthew Modoono / Northeastern University.

The recurring theme of resilience was a hallmark of Wenjun Zhang‘s comments as a student speaker. She shared how the coronavirus turned face-to-face gatherings upside down, ended valuable networking opportunities and forced everyone online to continue their studies.

“I am in awe and have great respect for you in these difficult times,” she said.

Zhang added that a Northeastern degree is an “invaluable asset” that will empower her and her fellow students to drive change and innovation in society. “It is now up to us to use the knowledge and friendships we have developed to work together, face challenges, find opportunities and create solutions for a better future.”

Keynote speaker Venkat Srinivasan, a former Northeastern economics professor who invests in business today, took up the theme of a brighter future when he gave graduates three pieces of advice: thinking without limits, entrepreneurship impact, and tolerance.

“Don’t accept a new normal. Build your new normal, ”advised Venkat Srinivisan (top left), a former Northeastern economics professor turned serial entrepreneur. Photos by Matthew Modoono / Northeastern University

Srinivasan, who has built several knowledge-based technology companies as well as companies focused on education, health, and the public sector, encouraged graduates to look beyond the naysayers and focus on achieving goals by surpassing everyone else. “The world is full of people who quickly tell you that you can’t. I have my part in it. Perseverance and hard work will get you there, ”Srinivasan said in a recorded message that was played on the big screens hanging from the ceiling of Matthews Arena.

“Don’t accept a new normal,” he advised. “Build your new normal.”

Friends and family share the joy with the graduates after the ceremony. Photos by Matthew Modoono / Northeastern University

Many of the messages from the speakers at the Graduate School were well received by students such as Sneha Jhawho is only a few months away from her master’s degree in business analytics.

“The most important thing is your effort and your ability to change the world with the learning we have done,” she said after the ceremony. “And you shouldn’t always think in terms of money.” She wants to change the world by getting a job in artificial intelligence.

For independent real estate entrepreneurs Brian Allenby, who completed a Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Business Innovation, encounters and networking were a highlight of his time at Northeastern. “Making the connections, the friendships, that was the key,” he says.

The real estate profession, he says, often gets a bad rap from brokers who are driven by a large commission. “I always think that the money comes when you help people first. That applies directly to my role, but also to any professional career. “

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