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From Bagpipes to Ping-Pong: Commencement 2014

There were bagpipes, colorful academic robes and even references to Porter’s five forces in the Commencement speech. Nothing you wouldn’t expect at a business school graduation, perhaps.

But then came the elaborate student fist bumps with Dean Snyder, the tongue-in-cheek a cappella salute from the Economies of Scale—and an epic post-ceremony ping pong match, pitting faculty against students and parents.

Because after all, this is Yale SOM.

Last Monday, despite initial reports of rain, sunshine greeted the Class of 2014 of Yale SOM’s full-time MBA, Master in Advanced Management and Executive MBA programs for the school’s inaugural graduation in Evans Hall. Countless spreadsheets, PowerPoints and group projects later, my classmates and I walked across the stage, shook hands with Dean Snyder and hi-fived one another, diplomas in hand.

Even as I write this post, I struggle to articulate exactly how I feel about our achievement. Certainly, the expected feelings of elation and gratitude are there, but the last two years have been far from a mere walk in the park. For me, they have been full of professional and academic growth, to be sure, but there has also been tremendous emotional and personal growth—which often arises out of failure, conflict and loss. When asked about my experience, then, the word “crucible” most readily comes to mind.

Thankfully, I will have more time to process and share my reflections on and lessons learned, particularly as I begin my next steps in San Francisco. In collaboration with the alumni relations and communications offices, I will be continuing to share about my post-graduation engagement with the school and real-world applications of SOM-derived insights. I also hope to shed light on the alumni community and events in the Bay Area, one of the top two destinations for graduating SOMers.

In the meantime, however, congratulations to all of my fellow graduates from Yale SOM—where no one bats an eye when your development economics and healthcare strategy professors take off their shoes to swap aces with your parents across the ping-pong table a mere two hours after the diploma ceremony.

Like I’ve said before, when it comes to community, no school beats SOM.