As the calendar flipped from summer to fall, 96 new Professional, Executive and Trans-Global Executive MBA students gathered in the Soda Activity Center to meet their cohort for the first time and take their first steps towards a Saint Mary’s MBA.
The day began with welcome speeches from Director of Academic Services Kathy Warren and Interim Associate Dean of Graduate and Global Programs Yung-Jae Lee in Claeys Lounge. Brother Michael Murphy, director of the Mission and Ministry Center, also addressed the new students, sharing with them an introduction to the Lasallian Mission that is at the core of a Saint Mary’s education.
Brother Murphy briefly spoke of the life and vision of John Baptist de La Salle and the saint’s commitment to education and service before sharing his own story of a life dedicated to study and action. Murphy discussed his time living on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and how he felt he was called spend a life studying and improving the lives of immigrants.
Full of enthusiasm for the incoming students, Brother Murphy welcomed the newcomers to campus and to a program that will push them in ways beyond academics. “When we are thrust outwards,” said the Christian Brother, “it forces us to look inward.”
“Everybody has a home at Saint Mary’s,” said Murphy in his closing remarks.
Students were then addressed by Jennifer Lin, a career and advancement coach who asked students to pair off and talk about their dreams and how they plan on accomplishing them. Partners would turn in their chairs to face their new classmate, while the other would listen intently. Heads nodded and hands gestured in the air while each of the new students exposed a bit of the future they hoped to see. Through their moments of vulnerability, the newest Gaels pulled closer together.
Stella Zhang, Trans-Global Executive MBA ’15, had only recently moved to the United States from China prior to orientation. After participating in the intimate exchange, said she would have to adjust to this more personal style of learning.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. It was very different from how we did things in China, but at the same time it’s very exciting,” said Zhang.
Lin’s address was followed up by lunch and overviews of the specific MBA programs. The final event of the afternoon was a creative team building activity, again led by Lin. In groups of nine or ten, students were given a basket full of pipe cleaners, plastic basketball goals, markers and other disparate objects and asked to create a new product and give a pitch for it in front of their colleagues. The inventions were as varied as they were creative, ranging from a dream catcher to an automated fish catcher to a portable grill.
By the end of the day, many new students felt bonded together, often times by the very thing that brought them to Saint Mary’s—the vision of the school.
“I think we are fundamentally driven by similar things,” said Tammy Debord, Trans-Global Executive MBA ’15, speaking of her classmates. “We want to be global citizens. I’m excited about the people I’m working with. We’ve already started commiserating about the work we have [laughs].”
Julia Ma, also from the Trans-Global Executive MBA ’15 cohort, agreed. “I came to Saint Mary’s because of the college’s emphasis on social responsibility; it really resonated with my values. After hearing the stories of my colleagues, I’m thrilled to start working with them.”