Congratulations Class of 2016

by John on May 9, 2016

CMS Change the WorldThe gardenias are in bloom again. It’s a reminder that the short spring season has arrived here in Miami, and with that it’s time for graduations.

Spring graduation is a fun time on campus.

As an administrator, I get to see the full range of emotions on the faces of our freshly minted alumni. Joy, accomplishment, relief, pride, are all on display and it’s great to see the families of the alums as well. You can see how mothers and fathers are elated that all the sacrifices thy made to see their son or daughter graduate, as well as the awe of younger siblings wondering how they too can accomplish such an amazing feat.

Me? I sit quietly and wish them nothing but the best. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and felt the exact same way before.

This time around, as my students enter the fray, the world of work is at yet another crossroads. Positions are a bit more plentiful than in previous years, salaries are up, employer confidence is remaining steady but not wildly upbeat. In short, the only certainty is uncertainty.

To the Class of 2016, congratulations, you’ve earned it! The next steps in your journey are probably going to be the most amazing, nervewracking, and scary you’ll ever have to take, but you got this. Go forth with the confidence that you’ve grown into over your time at the university.

It’s time to change the world, and I know you’ll be great partners in that endeavor.


I just returned from five days in New York City with 10 of FIU Business’ top students. This was the third time in 6 years that I’ve led students to the city and every time I go, I learn something new. Now it’s nothing earth shattering, but still, learning is truly a life-long process and this trip was no different.

During the first trip in 2012, which was by all accounts done by some very heavy lifting, the theme was about alternate careers in the financial word. You didn’t need to be an “I-banker” to be truly successful in the space. The best quote from one of my former students was rather striking: “I don’t know if I want to dedicate my life to working hours and hours for a bank that may not value my hard work and contributions” Poignant thoughts indeed.

In 2014 it was all about managing risk and maximizing Alpha. For the HR pros who are wondering just what the heck I mean by that it’s simply a performance metric of an investment compared to a market index. The greater the Alpha, the greater the reward in for an assumed risk.

This years trip theme centered around relationships. I found it to be a recurring theme from the presenters at the various firms, and the conversations that the students were having amongst themselves.

“Relationships Matter” one student commented. Interesting observations from such young and impressionable minds that have yet to enter the workforce full time. They weren’t just saying the words, they truly meant it. They hustled, networked, shook hands, and were incredibly driven to achieve their dreams of working in the world of finance.

Me? I made some notes, networked, and was in the background smiling. I was incredibly proud of how they were learning not only those very visible lessons, but also the ones not so visible. Here was a group learning how to navigate a big city, show up on time, wearing the appropriate attire, and asking very pointed and direct questions. I’m convinced that even my youngest students (sophomores with really high GPAs) learned the value of time and place.

There are days when I wonder if I’m making a difference in the lives of our students? If all the hard work will eventually pay off for them and for the College? Will the students be able to bounce back with a resiliency that will not deter them from achieving their goals?

This trip answered all of my questions and yet prompted an entire series of new ones. But I do know that my first question was answered…

I am making a difference. One crazy day at a time.

And that my dear friends, is one hell of an Alpha.


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