On May 6, Carlos Conrad, graduating supply chain management senior, will address his peers as the Broad College of Business’ 2023 student commencement speaker. The opportunity is a dream come true for many Spartans and one that Conrad says he’s become prepared for during his time at Michigan State.
“I can’t even put into words how much this opportunity means to me,” Conrad said. “I could not see myself doing this back in high school — my younger self would not feel comfortable enough doing so. At Broad, I have gained experience that shaped me as an individual and empowered me to become a better communicator and storyteller.”
Conrad noted how the Class of 2023 has had an unconventional four years at MSU, which he plans to highlight in his speech. He hopes to inspire his peers to embrace change and adapt as they continue ahead in their careers.
“Our experience in college up until this moment has been unconventional, so we adapted to become unconventional,” he said. “I want my peers to never forget to be unconventional and flexible. We all have goals and plans, but life always happens. We must let our unique and personal stories define us and inspire our purpose in life.”
While studying along the banks of the Red Cedar, Conrad has been an active Spartan, kicking his time off on campus as a member of the Broad College’s Residential Business Community. He has been involved with several business-focused student organizations, including the Supply Chain Management Association, Native American and Hispanic Business Students and Multicultural Business Students, where he served as the organization’s secretary for two years.
Passionate about developing his skills further, Conrad has also participated in the SCMA internal case competition, the Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference at Emory University, the MSU Women in Business Students’ Association leadership conference and more. Currently, Conrad is an engagement ambassador for the college’s Undergraduate Student Engagement office, where he helps plan and coordinate collegewide student events and engages his peers outside of the classroom.
“What I have taken away after four years is this: You’re not going to grow here if you’re just going to classes,” he said. “You can grow academically, but real, personal growth comes from your college experience outside of classes. Real networking and lasting friendships are fostered in student organizations and communities. And when you take an extra step and become a student leader, you reach a whole new level of personal and professional development.”
Outside of Broad, Conrad has served as a resident assistant at McDonel Hall for two years and worked for MSU’s Student Life and Engagement team in three different positions. He has also been an active member of ASMSU class councils, Campus Choir, Culturas de las Razas Unidas, Running Club and Orchesis Dance. Through it all, he has enjoyed bonding with peers and fellow Spartans.
“Making connections — that was the main theme of my Broad journey. I always make the effort to connect with my classmates, even during our virtual sophomore year. Connecting with faculty members through office hours, my on-campus jobs and my organizations has been invaluable and rewarding as well.”
Conrad, an honors student pursuing two minors in environmental and sustainability studies and peace and justice studies, noted that much of the inspiration for the speech he’ll deliver from the stage at the Breslin Center comes from his late father, Charles Patrick Conrad.
“My father is the reason why I am here. He did thorough research to suggest a major and a college for me, which led me to Broad. He was an unconventional man, too — he ventured out of his home state and came to New York, where he settled down and met my mother,” Conrad said. His father passed away in 2021, which was difficult for Conrad to overcome. “It was the first taste of reality that taught me life was not going to be a picture-perfect journey. Life will always have bumps and challenges along the way, but rather than letting them take me down, I learned to cope with them in a healthy way.”
He also expressed gratitude for the people he has met at Broad, including everyone he has crossed paths with or built relationships with at all levels. Conrad gave special thanks to Mike Behan, fixed-term faculty of finance, and Paulette Stenzel, professor emeritus of finance, who taught him business law courses that inspired him to study international law in the future, along with Ken Horne, director of undergraduate student engagement, and Simone Peinkofer, assistant professor of supply chain management.
“My success is much accredited to the support from faculty and staff members in the Department of Supply Chain Management, Multicultural Business Programs and the Residential Business Community. Being part of MBP has shown me how important DEI and multiculturalism are in our world. I have learned to be more empathetic and understanding and apply that to my professional life and personal relationships.”
This summer, Conrad will be studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. Upon his official graduation in August, Conrad will join United Airlines as an associate analyst in global procurement. Excited to join Chicago Spartans, the Windy City’s local MSU alumni club, Conrad plans to stay connected with his alma mater through the Broad alumni network and the alumni office.
“I will miss being in college so much when I graduate,” Conrad said. “Every morning when I wake up in East Lansing, I feel eternally grateful for everything MSU continues to give me. Enrolling here was the best decision I ever made in my life, and I seriously wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“My Broad experience has been amazing, and I am passionate about the college, the people within it and everything it embodies,” he continued. “I am surrounded daily by Broad Spartans that are resilient and eager to make a difference in the world and faculty and staff that truly care about their students. Throughout my four years, I enjoyed everything that Broad has to offer: organizations, research opportunities and the wonderful physical space we have to learn, work and connect. On top of everything, we are given various opportunities to connect with world-class employers. We as students in Broad are lucky to have all these resources.”
Commencement is often a bittersweet time; although it marks the end of students’ journeys at MSU, it also signifies the start of a new chapter. For the Class of 2023, the memories and connections they have made as Broad Spartans will remain strong as they move forward to inspire the future of business. For more information on commencement ceremonies, visit commencement.msu.edu.