Photos: Jim Block
Evening & Weekend MBA Brandon Middleton’s Commencement Rap
Dearly beloved as we close this last chapter
It’s appropriate to be sent off by the class’s favorite rapper
When I heard I’d been elected to give to you this message
I knew I had to try to do it big and make it epic //
For the record this was the last assignment I accepted
First commencement rap ever … Guinness Book of World Records? … hmm
Student Always, Beyond Yourself … forever
Questioning the Status Quo so we can change the world … together//
DCF, SG&A, and WTP,
LBO, IRR, and EVC
All foreign concepts to Brandon at the start
Thousands later though they’re tattoed on my heart//
MBA equals marriage babies and academics
Manifestations from all three I’ve seen from the beginning
I’ll miss a lot of things like taking naps on that shuttle
Like sometimes not reading a case and somehow not getting in trouble//
Like rich case discussions, the insights and lessons
Not getting to the insight because we asked so many questions
Like Jim the photographer and Dean Lyon’s dances
Like Saturdays not checking and showing up at the wrong campus//
Y’all never did that right, probably wasn’t your struggle
But you must admit that being EW teaches you how to juggle
It teaches you how to hustle, my look at how we’ve grown
Multitasking homework, family, and watching Game of Thrones//
So thank you Haas for the challenge and thank you for the love
We did more than what we thought we were capable of
Congrats to the spouses, professors, and the staff
On a job well done filled with lots of fun and laughs//
And finally my hats off to the class of fifteen
You’re a good looking group … you’re So Fresh and So Clean
This for gold and for oski to axe and to blue
It’s B. Middleton signing off I will now bid you adieu//
Full-time MBA Sandeep Pahuja’s Commencement Speech
My greatest fear in life is that I won’t live up to my potential. And two years ago it seemed more certain than ever that I would have to settle for a life I didn’t want to lead. There was that nagging voice of self-doubt in my head telling me, “You’re not ready.” Round 1, rejection email. Round 2, rejection email. Round 3, rejection email. Each time, every successive round that voice screaming louder and louder in my head “I told you so.” In those moments of intense self-doubt, when all that I had worked hard for seemed futile, my family and friends picked me up—because they knew that I could. And they believed in me when I stopped believing in myself. And they gave me the gentle push to go after the life I wanted and I applied to Berkeley in Round 4.
I remember getting the phone call, and being so afraid of the possibility of what might happen that I let it go to voicemail (sorry Stephanie), because something I worked so hard for was about to happen and it was scary. I like to think that I was the last person the school let in, the one that Haas took a chance on, the one with below average GMATs, but above average facial hair growing ability. I wanted to come to Berkeley not only because Haas creates leaders, whether in investment banking or non-profits, but because Berkeley teaches us how to think differently, find the right problem to solve, and most importantly, helps us find the right path for us.
But we never would have gotten here today if it weren’t for all of those people that believed we could even when we were sure we couldn’t. To the partner who told you that you needed to go across the country to go to Berkeley-Haas even if it meant a long distance relationship, the friends that continued to ask you what you really did at business school since all they saw on your Instagram feed was pictures of HaasBoats and VegHaas and HaasLoween and HaasDogs and #HaasTag and #Haasome and every other event we like to combine with Haas, the professors who’ve dedicated themselves to teaching us to recognize the pitfalls of the leaders that came before us, and the amazing staff that does all of the little things with no fanfare and makes this place better year after year. THANK YOU.
But I want to especially want to thank our families who made us we are—I am thinking of my family today, that couldn’t be here today because my mother needed emergency surgery yesterday, who thankfully is doing okay—love you Mom. Hopefully the livestream is working better than AirBears2. But most of all, thank you class of 2015. Because if you happen to be by yourself today, I want to remind you that you have 250 family members sitting with you today in this audience. We’ve spent the last two years growing into this family, and we’ve accomplished amazing things. And we did it because we pushed, challenged, and supported each other.
Take my friend Gordon Yu, who pushed me to join Ben Killmer’s Lean Launch Pad team. A push and a challenge that’s changed my path and led me to co-found a startup. Together we won 12 case competitions, started 10, soon to be 11, companies, raised over $170,000 for charity and volunteered the equivalent of 155 days, had more than 5,000 people attend the 9 conferences we organized, created our own signature cocktail, and incredibly had 9 babies born in two years. We were all admitted to Haas because they saw who we could be, we’ve spent the last two years pushing each other to reach new highs, and now it’s our time to go out into the world and live up to that potential.
I want to turn my fear into an asset so I am going to leave you with a challenge today. Find your own path. Don’t go follow someone else’s because it’s what you are supposed to do. Associate to engagement manager to partner—throw it away. Make your own—skip around, skip ahead, go backwards, but do it because it’s yours and it’s the one you want to be on, not the one you think you should be on or the one that’s going to give you the most money. You have to. You’ve given so much of your heart and soul, and frankly, your bank account, to become the leader Berkeley believed you could be. You know right now in your gut if you are on the right path or if you aren’t. I want you to make calendar invite for one year from now, and invite the classmate that has pushed, challenged, and supported you the most. If you haven’t found your right path yet, spend the next year doing what you’re passionate about in all of your free time. On May 22, 2016 call that person up, and talk to them about where you are at because you’ll need a push to walk away from a comfortable life to go for one that holds meaning for you. And if in a year you don’t get the push you need, call me because we’re family, and I know you can.
Our lives are short, and our time is fleeting. Spend it with the ones you love, doing the things you want, with the people who matter the most. We are ready.