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Best wishes to the Executive MBA Class of 2023

By Chelsea Stein
Friday, May 12, 2023

“The Executive MBA program has equipped you to become visionary leaders, innovators and C-suite occupiers, just to name a few. My EMBA led me to become a CEO, so I know it will be valuable to you.”

Jeffrey Benson, president and CEO of Case Credit Union, addressed 110 Spartans at the Broad College of Business’ Executive MBA commencement ceremony on May 7.

Over the course of 20 months, these EMBA students in the program’s 57th graduating class made weekend investments to gain lifelong returns, pursuing this degree without pausing their professional careers.

Benson, a 2011 alumnus of the program, inspired students by quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and emphasizing how leadership is about using influence to bring positive change in the world.

“Here are three simple truths, things you currently possess to help you on your way,” Benson said. “First, your mind is a powerful tool. Always exercise your mind, stay curious and remain agile in the face of change. Second, your heart represents passion, purpose and your values. It guides you in making decisions to not only benefit yourself but also all those who are connected to you. And third, your hands represent your ability to act, create, innovate and make tangible impact. The world is in your hands, and you have the power to shape it for the better.”

Three student speakers, one from each of the program’s three cohorts, were chosen by class vote to speak at the ceremony. Each shared personal highlights from their time in the program, emphasizing the strength of the Spartan community and the lasting relationships they made.

“The best aspect of the program was learning from each other,” Tyler Wheeler, of the East Lansing cohort, shared. “We intentionally sought out to build a community, so I know our relationships will last a lifetime.”

Prenella Semma, of the Troy cohort, noted the Class of 2023’s support system and how that enabled them to be successful. “Our family and friends committed to making sacrifices while we were in this program. You have been our biggest cheerleaders while putting yourself on the back burner. I am incredibly proud of my classmates and of my classmates’ friends and family.”

And Shane Cowger, of the Flex cohort, pointed out how graduates’ time at MSU has prepared them for what’s next: “The next is now. . . . The world needs leaders unafraid to fail. The world needs Spartans.”

In addition, faculty were recognized with awards for years of service, including Michael Behan, fixed-term faculty of finance, and Frederick Morgeson, Eli Broad Professor of Management, for 10 years each, and Brian Pentland, Main Street Capital Corporation Intellectual Capital Professor, for 15 years.

Finally, excellence in teaching awards were chosen through popular student vote for each program cohort. Pentland was honored by the East Lansing cohort, Stephen Schiestel, Frederick S. Addy Professor of Practice and a 1998 alumnus of the program, was honored by the Troy cohort, and John Wagner, professor of management, was honored by the Flex cohort.

As with each commencement ceremony, there was an overwhelming feeling of excitement and pride as Spartans prepared to embark on their next chapter.

“You inspire us to aim higher and do better,” Richard Saouma, associate dean for MBA, EMBA and professional master’s programs, said. “What makes this program magic is you and the 4,000 EMBA alumni who came before you.”

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