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At the Gabelli School of Business Graduate Diploma Ceremony, Future Business Leaders are Filled with Hope and Determination

Featured Events | May 26, 2023 |

“Don’t give up; keep going, keep trying. It is not whether you struggle but how you recover,” was the message to graduates who attended the Gabelli School of Business Graduate Diploma Ceremony held on May 23 at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus. Valerie Irick Rainford, FCRH ’86, who is a Fordham University Trustee and served as the keynote speaker at the ceremony, shared how her own struggles shaped and defined her life and career, offering inspirational advice to graduates as they prepare for the inevitable challenges ahead.

“Do what you can from where you sit in service of others. By helping others, you also help yourself. Many of the world’s challenges today are because our leaders care more about themselves than those they lead,” she asserted. Then, she asked, “What kind of leader will you be?”

No stranger to adversity, Ms. Rainford spoke about stories of struggle and resolve. She overcame devastating setbacks early in life and eventually rose to become the youngest individual promoted to officer at the Federal Reserve Bank, and the first African-American female to achieve the rank of senior vice president. She credited the support she received at Fordham during her darkest times, following the death of her mother, for helping her to overcome the many obstacles she faced on the road to achieving her ambitions.

Those being acknowledged for the completion of their degrees at the ceremony also celebrated their many accomplishments, while embracing the passion and fortitude that is a common trait of Gabelli School students and alumni. They have been all been readied to answer the call to become changemakers and responsible, compassionate, and innovative business leaders who are committed to serving as catalysts for change. Although they are graduating during a time of unprecedented disruption and economic uncertainty, they are prepared to use their talents to have a positive impact on society.

Amplifying upon this theme in her own address to the graduates, Dean Lerzan Aksoy stated “What I can say with certainty is that following this path will make you and your world better. If you never stop actively pursuing what you know to be your purpose on this planet, I can assure you that you will succeed. The key is to keep moving forward.”

Aghya Goel, president of the Student Advisory Council and a graduating full-time M.B.A. candidate, addressed her fellow graduates by echoing the sentiments of the day. “We have evolved and grown to understand that success is not just about personal achievement, it is also about using our education to create a more just and equitable society—one that encourages us to work together in harmony to achieve our goals,” she said.

Specialized Master’s Student Leadership Award recipient and M.S. Business Analytics degree candidate Lilianne Liang captured the spirit of her graduating class in her moving remarks stating, “Today is the day that we thank each other and all of the people who have shown trust in us to do well and to do the right thing, and those who have encouraged us to move forward even during the very difficult times we have endured. We may encounter setbacks and disappointments, but they will only serve to make us stronger and more resilient. As graduates of Fordham University, we possess the knowledge, the skills, and the moral compass to navigate the complexities of our world.”

Congratulations to all the graduates!

Written by: Michelle Miller, Associate Director of Communications, Fordham University Gabelli School of Business.

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