By Karen Guzman
Even a pandemic could not stop Tarini Mohan’s classmates and friends from gathering to celebrate her impending graduation from the Yale School of Management. They just did it online.
“As soon as we found out graduation was canceled, it was a no-brainer to throw Tarini a virtual celebration,” said Christine Chen ’18, who helped organize the April 18 Zoom “commencement.” “It actually ended up even better, since people around the world could join without even having to leave their living rooms.”
And more than 80 people joined. Classmates from Mohan’s undergraduate institution, Wellesley College; Yale SOM alumni; family; and former co-workers celebrated Mohan and the impact she has had on the Yale SOM community and the outside world. Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi ’80 delivered brief remarks.
Mohan, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010, completed an MBA over the last four years.
“To me, Tarini graduating from SOM was not just a milestone after her years of hard work,” Chen said. “It is also a tribute to her recovery and resilience.”
Mohan thanked the classmates who planned the event and everyone who attended.
“My ‘commencement,’ with 87 attendees, provided me with much-needed vindication for always putting people first,” she said. “Human connections are my lifeblood. It was a real blessing to be shown such love in the time of Corona.”
Mohan sustained the injury in a 2010 motor vehicle accident in Uganda, where she was working with an international NGO to help smallholder farmers increase their incomes. The accident left her in a coma for three months. Her rehabilitation was long and difficult, with years of grueling therapy.
Admitted to Yale SOM in 2011, Mohan deferred enrollment until 2016. She and her family credit Yale SOM with providing the flexibility to enable her to continue her education.
“My four years in pursuit of an MBA, instead of the usual two, was such a blessing,” Mohan said. “Without a doubt, I believe that SOM’s unique community is its competitive advantage, and truly sets it apart. SOM’s values attract a very particular breed of student, who is, first and foremost, driven by the school’s mission of attending to both business and society. They are compassionate and inclusive.”
Chen said that Mohan has had a profound impact on her classmates, illustrating for them lessons in perseverance, resilience, and inclusivity.
“When I was a student, planning events or sitting in a classroom, Tarini rewired my brain to think more inclusively, to make sure everyone felt included and able to participate,” Chen said. “Her story opens up possibilities for others who have always wanted to pursue a higher degree—and the way that SOM supported Tarini since the moment she applied makes me very proud to be part of this community.”
Tarini’s father, Rakesh Mohan, gave the closing toast at her celebration. “It’s been her incredible love of life that’s made this day possible,” he said. “And this is just the beginning.”
Watch Tarini Mohan’s classmates perform a musical number in her honor: