David C. Dauch, Chairman and CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing, addressed 94 Spartans at this weekend’s commencement ceremony.

David C. Dauch, chairman and CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing and a 2007 alumnus of the Executive MBA program, addressed 94 Spartans at the 2020 commencement ceremony.

“No doubt about it, when it comes to who will shape the future: Spartans Will.”

David C. Dauch, Chairman and CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing, addressed 94 Spartans at this weekend’s commencement ceremony, sending off the 54th graduating class of Executive MBA students.

Of this cohort, 24 completed the program in East Lansing, 23 in Detroit and 47 in Troy over the course of 20 months. They each made a weekend investment for lifelong returns, pursuing this degree without pausing their professional careers.

Dauch, a 2007 alumnus of the program, inspired students with his story of how he applied his learnings from MSU to restructure his business to become the Fortune 500 company that it is today. “I can tell you firsthand that the education and the insights that I received through the MSU Executive MBA program were tremendously helpful to me personally,” he said.

“How do I know that each of you can look forward to an extremely bright future? I know because 13 years ago, I was sitting in your seat.”

Students from each program location were chosen by class vote to speak at the ceremony as well. Each shared personal highlights and lessons learned from their journeys through the program, with the theme of community prevalent in each speech.

“We weren’t just classmates; we truly liked each other, and we enjoyed each other’s company … What we do with our knowledge and relationships that we have built together is up to us, and I cannot wait to see what we accomplish,” Trevor Friedeberg, of the East Lansing cohort, shared.

Graduates Paloma Montero Lopez, of the Detroit cohort, and Joseph Mannino, of the Troy cohort, present associate professor Kirt Butler (left) with his monetary award as an honored faculty member.

Paloma Montero Lopez, of the Detroit cohort, highlighted the potential for positive impact that each graduate has as they leave MSU. “I’m convinced that this title we are about to receive will not matter if we do not transform ourselves and use it for a higher purpose,” she said. “Teamwork, a skill that we mastered throughout this program, is going to be our best ally and an essential condition to achieve success.”

Finally, Joseph Mannino, of the Troy cohort, summed up the EMBA program as “an incredibly uplifting experience.” He shared, “At nearly the age of 50, earning a master’s degree in business may have been one of the greatest accomplishments in my life.”

Of the entire graduating class, 18 students were recognized as Beta Gamma Sigma inductees, joining a highly regarded international honor society for business students. Academic performance is a key criterion for inductees, recognizing the class’s top 20% by GPA.

“We are truly inspired by your dedication, your effort and your resolve,” Cheri DeClercq, assistant dean for MBA programs, said. “We use this inspiration to continually aim higher and do better.”

In addition, faculty were recognized with awards for years of service and for excellence in teaching, the latter chosen through popular student vote for each program location. From the Department of Finance, Stephen Schiestel, a 1998 alumnus of the program, was honored for East Lansing and Kirt Butler for both the Detroit and Troy locations. Each was presented with monetary awards of $2,000 for each program location, made possible through an endowment from EMBA alumni.

As with each commencement ceremony, there is an overwhelming feeling of excitement and pride as Spartans prepare to embark on their next chapter. DeClercq shared three takeaways for the Class of 2020 as they prepare to make business happen: “We hope that you built relationships for life with each other and with MSU. We hope that the lessons in teamwork go beyond the classroom and help you to change, improve and advance your businesses and your community. We hope you’ll be an active Spartan, stay engaged and continue to reap the benefits of this memorable experience.”