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Binghamton University School of Management Class of 2023 encouraged to never stop learning

SOM Commencement ceremony celebrates 452 students earning their bachelor's degrees

Students celebrate at the the Binghamton University School of Management 2023 Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 14, 2023. Students celebrate at the the Binghamton University School of Management 2023 Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 14, 2023.
Students celebrate at the the Binghamton University School of Management 2023 Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 14, 2023. Image Credit: Binghamton University.

Students in Binghamton University’s School of Management (SOM) gained complex problem-solving skills from analytics and management courses, developed task priorities through case competitions and learned the value of teamwork while completing capstone projects.

The lessons gained from each of these experiences and more, Dean Shelley Dionne told SOM’s Class of 2023, has prepared each student for a successful future.

“SOM Class of 2023, you did the hard work and are ready to graduate from one of the top 10 public business schools in the country,” Dionne said. “You are becoming employees and future leaders of some of the world’s most recognized companies. Thank you for allowing us to partner with you on your educational and career journey.”

The SOM Commencement ceremony awarded 452 students with bachelor’s degrees Sunday, May 14. SOM master’s and PhD students received their degrees at the Doctoral Hooding and Master’s ceremonies earlier in the week.

Partway through a speech reminding the graduates of their many accomplishments during their time at Binghamton, University President Harvey Stenger paused and set his prepared remarks aside. Shifting course, he walked the graduates back to the bleak onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Then he praised the graduates, along with the rest of the Binghamton University community, for facing this challenge with courage and determination.

For members of the Class of 2023, the shutdowns forced by the pandemic occurred in their first year on campus.

“We tested, we made restricted social rules, we delivered thousands of meals per week to students living in isolation and quarantine in Digman and Hillside and even hotels along the parkway,” Stenger said. “And yes, we made mistakes, but we quickly tried to correct them. But somehow, some way, we ended up here. You ended up here. Nice job, Class of 2023!”

Lara Kaplan, the Commencement ceremony’s student speaker, summed up her SOM experiences in three words: learning, curiosity and pride.

In January 2020, after a 30-hour journey from her native Australia, Kaplan arrived outside her residence hall at Binghamton and was just settling into college life before the COVID-19 pandemic forced her and so many other students to return home. But these hurdles didn’t deter Kaplan, a business administration major with a concentration in finance who plans to return in the spring to pursue an MBA, from embracing everything Binghamton has to offer.

As a student-athlete, Kaplan had to carefully manage her time and schedule balancing her studies with a very disciplined Division I tennis schedule while also making time to enjoy University life. She urged fellow graduates to seek out challenges and take calculated risks, but also to embrace the pride that belongs to those who call themselves Binghamton graduates.

“We have a degree from one of the best universities in the world. We have benefitted from insights and opinions other than our own,” Kaplan said. “Let’s remain curious and remain open to ideas of others and continue to learn.”

She continued, “In Australia, we don’t have the bond of being an alumnus. We don’t have students walking around town showing off their college shirt that they are so proud of. Here in the USA, we wear our sweatshirt — or jumper how I like to call it — with pride; it’s a badge of belonging to a school that has given us life skills, fun, excitement and a great education.”

Alumni speaker Michal Katz ’87, head of the Investment and Corporate Banking Division at Mizuho Americas, told graduates the best way for them to grow is to push their limits. You can follow the path others might expect you to take, she said, or you can blaze your own trail.

“Entrepreneurship was certainly not in the ‘expected’ category of careers I grew up with, nor was the field of investment banking. And yet it is where I ultimately found my passion and blazed my own trail,” Katz said. “So, remember this: there will always be societal or cultural expectations of what is possible, what is appropriate or what is best for us. Today, I am here to tell you … to explore new interests rather than use the map others charted for you.”

In her parting words to the Class of 2023, Dionne encouraged each graduate to remain connected to their SOM community in Binghamton and that each is welcome to stay involved with the school as alumni.

So it’s goodbye, Dionne said, but “just for now.”

“If you are willing to invest a little time in our classrooms, or mentor a student, or hire an intern or graduate,” Dionne said, “then we elevate an already terrific management school even higher.”

Posted in: Campus News, SOM