Business School Congratulates, Welcomes Newest Alums

December 15, 2017

Kendra Parks

University of Miami Graduates filled the floor of the Watsco Center on Thursday, December 14, listening to words of wisdom from retired baseball star Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez, who was the Fall 2017 Undergraduate Commencement speaker, member of the Board of Trustees, and Business School benefactor.

“Now is the best time to be an entrepreneur, an athlete, an artist,” said Rodriguez.

These words resonated with Management professor and UM Business School alumna, Susy Alvarez-Diaz, who teaches Entrepreneurship to her students.

“A-Rod’s words served as a great example of what happens to us in spite of our best efforts, and we must all have the courage to press on. Xavier Cortada’s words also set the tone perfectly for what our new alumni can expect as they go out into the world as ‘Canes,” said Alvarez.

Xavier Cortada was the Alumni Association speaker at graduation. Cortada is a triple-Alumnus from the University of Miami, with one of those degrees being an MBA from the Business School.

Rodriguez’s advice resonated with Adriana Espinoza as well, who received her Bachelor’s degree yesterday in Entrepreneurship and cognate on STEM.

“When A-Rod said that he wants people with a Ph.D. around him – poor, humble, and driven – he described exactly what entrepreneurship is: starting something from nothing, finding out what you don’t know and learning to ask for help but also believing in yourself. I believe that as a student at the University of Miami, I had the privilege to learn those ‘soft skills’ that will not only help me through my career, but also in my personal life,” said Espinoza.

“As a young person entering the workforce, do not think in a limited way; think in big possibilities, and – no pun intended – swing for the fences,” said Rodriguez.

From 30-year-old college student to now UM alumnus, Blake Tekotte also related to Rodriguez’s words.

“My journey at the U wasn’t the so-called ‘normal’ route, but walking across the stage at the age of 30 to receive my diploma was something that I take great pride in. I left school after my junior year to pursue my dream of playing professional baseball for 9 years and couldn’t have had a more appropriate commencement speaker. The part that really touched home for me was when A-Rod said he has his ‘Ph.D. in failing, but had a Master’s in getting back up.’

“My journey as a professional athlete gave me a completely different perspective on my last year of school as I am incredibly grateful for the University of Miami and all it has given me in life,” said Tekotte.

Braxton Berrios, a wide receiver for the University of Miami Hurricanes, is also now a proud alumnus of UM and the Business School. Not only did he excel in the field, but also the classroom. Berrios graduated Summa Cum Laude, with an almost perfect GPA and double-majored in Entrepreneurship and Finance.

“The School of Business was just as much a valuable experience as it was an opportunity. To be exposed to the likes of the incredible faculty and students throughout my years at Miami provided me with priceless connections and knowledge that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. I believe every university can teach you in the classroom, but not all universities push you to better yourself as a person and a student; I’m pleased to say the School of Business did just that. I’m walking away from Miami with an abundance of knowledge in my field, contacts I can count on, and an overwhelming appreciation for the School of Business,” said Berrios.

“To see our undergrads grow from excellent students into confident professionals, and to be part of that journey is a special privilege. ‘Canes, Class of 2017:  Remember, be humble, make your mark, and always ‘swing for the fences,’” advised Vice Dean of Undergraduate Business Ann Olazabal.

Not only is the Business School proud of its 121 Undergraduate students that graduated yesterday, but also its large, diverse class of Graduate students who are now proud alums.

“Our Executive MBA students entered as a high-caliber class eager to learn, who now graduate as principled leaders with ideas that will transform health and health care,” said Health Sector Management and Policy professor, Dr. Karoline Mortenson.

Vice Dean of Graduate Business Programs, Patricia Abril, was especially moved by the commencement celebrations.

“There is nothing like watching our students, full of pride, walk across the stage with their family and friends cheering them on. We are so proud of our 127 graduate business students,” said Abril.

The futures of these alumni are boundless, and their determination will surely carry them far, continue to open doors, and make the University and the Business School proud.

“As you transition from students to alumni, remember your ‘Canes family is here to keep you connected,” said Cortada.

For all alumni who wish to stay involved with the Business School, please call our Alumni Relations department at (305) 284-4052 or businessalumni@miami.edu.

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