The class of 2021, facing its future with optimism, “radical hope” and the promise of “Still”

Students in the 2021 class celebrate their achievements at the Stanford GSB ceremony. | Best Grad Photo Inc.

On June 7, 2021, the Stanford Graduate School of Business honored the 2021 class during a face-to-face masked ceremony. The event celebrated all that the students had achieved, acknowledging the difficulties and triumphs many faced and commended their endurance in navigating a year different from the others.

During a year full of many novelties, the ceremony also started from tradition. Graduate students, families, staff, and assistant leadership listened to Jonathan Levin, professor at Philip H. Knight and dean of Stanford GSB; Jennifer Aaker, Atlantic ’95 professor and general practitioner; and, for the first time, two talking students. 2021 MBA students in the class, Areeba Kamal and Emily Calkins, were selected by a group of fellow graduate work group.

Levin opened this celebration with his theme: optimism. He talked about how the 2021 Class responded with optimism in so many cases, even though the year was not what they had planned or expected.

“You have contributed and have contributed to creating the online learning experience,” he said. “You planned and executed important events. … You created organizations. You are committed to a wide range of incredibly complicated topics, including racial equity and politics. You made strong friends. “

Levin told students that he is graduating at a time of huge change and that it is a time when their education will be more valuable to them.

“You’ve learned to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity and to be adaptable and resilient, an incredible set of lessons for your career and life,” he said.

Aaker addressed the students below and humorously addressed commenting on the absolute shift from a virtual reality to a face-to-face event: “It’s good to see everyone dressed in pants.”


You have learned to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity and to be adaptable and resilient, an incredible set of lessons for your career and life.


Jonathan Levin

From his research and his life, he shared three personal ideas about what constitutes a well-lived life. Aaker encouraged students to adopt their unique dimensionality: “Keep making bold decisions. We often underestimate the advantage and overestimate its disadvantage.” He reminded students to take on the mission of “changing lives, changing organizations, changing world “seriously, but don’t take it too seriously and use humor to share truths. Finally, he stressed how challenge, pain, uncertainty and resilience create meaningful memories, from classmates who take baked cookies to home during quarantine to intimacy and connection in virtual TALK.These are the ones that build lasting love.

Aaker concluded, “How can this knowledge of what’s really important in life drive you to be more daring, to use humor intentionally, and to drive with love?”

Areeba Kamal, a 2021 MBA student, spoke below. Kamal opened up that his world would turn upside down in 2020. First, from the devastating loss of his mother, and then to the emergence of COVID-19, followed by racial injustices, natural disasters and political upheavals.

“What does it take to survive change, survive mourning, survive a pandemic that is wreaking havoc on lives, organizations and the world? We need what the philosopher Jonathan Lear calls radical hope, ”said Kamal. “Radical hope means looking beyond the darkness you have plunged into, into a future so joyful that you are bound to bring it to life.”

Kamal then shared the radical hope he had witnessed among his classmates: in the projects they led in response to COVID-19, in the fear that the Black Business Student Association demanded measurable goals to increase representation. of blacks at Stanford GSB and how the 2021 Class reinvented every aspect of their Stanford GSB experience.

Kamal ended up challenging his peers to use his radical hope to deal with injustices and seize opportunities.

“You and I wake up every day for the rest of our lives and ask ourselves, ‘How will I use my radical hope to bridge the gap between what it is and what it should be?’

The tribute to the Kamal pandemic was followed by words from fellow MBA student Emily Calkins. Calkins spoke of the cornerstone of the Knight Management Center: “dedicated to things that haven’t happened yet and people who are about to dream of them.” This phrase inspired a change in the way she saw the now common phrase “unprecedented time,” from a reminder during the pandemic of how she and her classmates let themselves be tested for what they have learned. from the experience of living the unexpected. .

Calkins shared two lessons with his classmates. The first is that living an unprecedented time together helped the 2021 class prepare for a career and a life of things that have not yet happened. The second lesson is that the most important word, and your favorite word, in the cornerstone is “still.”

“Because it’s a small word with a huge amount of courage, optimism and self-belief embedded in its three-letter walls,” Calkins said.

Stanford GSB students were invited to attend the Stanford University Opening Ceremony for Higher Degree Candidates held on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at Stanford Stadium.

The ceremony celebrated 397 graduates who earned degrees in 2021:

  • 371 MBA
  • 21 doctoral degrees
  • 5 degrees MSx

Of these graduates, 10% obtained a joint degree:

  • 16 Master in Arts in Education
  • 12 Master in Environmental and Resource Sciences (E-IPER)
  • 5 Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD)
  • 3 Master in Public Policy (MPP)
  • 1 Master in Electrical Engineering

Certificates in Public Management and Social Innovation were awarded to 155 graduates.

Scholars Arjay Miller are recognized as the top 10% academic in the graduate MBA class. This year, 41 MBA students have received this award.

Joshua Young Yang was selected as a Henry Ford II Fellow for academic results.

The winner of the 2021 Ernest C. Arbuckle Award was Emily Calkins. Graduate students choose the recipient of this award for having contributed to the achievement of the school’s objectives through their actions within the school and society.

Donald Muir won the Alexander A. Robichek Award for conducting students in finance.

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