Greetings and congratulations Class of 2020! I am honored to serve as the Dean of the NIU College of Business. On behalf of the entire College of Business community, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to you and your families for achieving a major milestone in your journey: graduation.
We applaud you, and proudly so, for successfully completing your journey at NIU. You have reached this important milestone by completing the requirements of our rigorous programs. At any time this is a great achievement but during a time when you had to pivot to a mode of learning and manage unforeseen challenges in your personal lives, your achievement is simply remarkable.
Indeed, yours is a graduating class unlike any other. Throughout your last two semesters, life has thrown an endless set of challenges onto your path. Yet through it all, the commitment you made to bettering yourself and to reaching the completion of your academic journey never wavered. You believed in yourself. You persevered. You emerged stronger.
Your journey with us has been more than academics. It’s just as vital to talk about character building moments and how this year, you were forced to navigate many of those types of moments. Know that the incredible resilience you demonstrated goes far beyond surviving the year. By finding your balance in a constantly and radically shifting environment, you also discovered within yourselves a deep reservoir of great strength, untold patience, necessary empathy, rock-solid conviction, and an energized grace. Realize that these character traits are what define huskies. These traits, along with your NIU degree, will continue to help you navigate the many unknowns of the present along with those yet to come. Because if there’s any constant in life, it’s ‘change.’ So, recognize these powerful traits within yourself and develop them further.
Always remember that the challenges of this year, or any year, won’t define you. But how you face challenges with that Huskie spirit you so beautifully demonstrated will shine like a beacon for many to see and to follow. You have truly faced the toughest challenge of our lifetime and emerged stronger at the other end. This will serve as a powerful bedrock on which to build your life ahead and will propel you to achieve your dreams and to go to destinations you have never imagined. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘what lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.’ Inside of every Huskie is the grit to overcome the toughest of challenges, limitless compassion to help others, and soaring optimism for the future. As you put your talents to work, to change lives and change the world, we will be watching with Huskie pride. Thank you for sharing a vital part of your journey in life with us. Congratulations again and Go Huskies!
Dean and Professor, NIU College of Business