LeBow Graduates and Speakers Look Ahead with Optimism at Commencement 2022
On June 8, the LeBow College of Business held an in-person commencement ceremony at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts for the first time in three years. From the sound of it, graduates, attendees and the ceremony’s speakers were enthusiastic about the change.
Loud cheers greeted the reading of graduates’ names and punctuated the pauses in speeches by LeBow Dean and R. John Chapel Jr. Dean’s Chair Vibhas Madan, PhD, and others.
“We’re finally seeing the city return to what we know and love,” said undergraduate commencement speaker Rajeev Nunna ’22, encouraging his fellow graduates to remember the resilience of Philadelphia and the support of the LeBow community, which he called “a family,” when encountering difficult times in the future.
In particular, he singled out Dean Madan, Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs Caitlin Brady and custodian Mukit “Mo” Wali for their contributions to LeBow’s welcoming environment.
“Hard times, unlike inflation, are only transitory,” Nunna added, making an economics reference that Dean Madan, a longtime School of Economics faculty member, noted during his own remarks.
Graduate student speaker Spurthi Dodda, MBA ’22, brought an international perspective, noting how readily she was able to feel at home at LeBow as a newcomer to the United States through the academic and career advisors in Graduate Student Services and through her involvement with Drexel’s Graduate Student Association.
“Drexel has brought us together to grow, expand and become comfortable in a new setting, and it has prepared us for a life filled with both adventures and uncertainties,” she said.
Dean Madan encouraged graduates to consider service to society and others as they weigh the course their futures will take.
“Think of your future not just in terms of career decisions, but how it relates to the big, difficult problems you can help solve to better society,” he said. “If you devote yourself to solving the big problems, then your careers will take care of themselves.”
Keynote speaker Raj Gupta, MBA ’72, and now a “Golden Dragon” celebrating 50 years since receiving his degree, was similarly upbeat in his address, though he first looked to the past in noting his humble beginnings: coming to the United States from India to attend graduate school “with eight dollars in my pocket.”
This origin story set the stage for over four decades of great business accomplishments, including a long career at Rohm and Haas, where he served as CEO and chair before the firm’s acquisition by Dow* in 2009. In recent years, he has served on multiple corporate boards and established the Ujala Foundation, through which he and his wife, Kamla, established Drexel’s Gupta Governance Institute.
Gupta encouraged graduates to “prioritize family,” citing the support of his wife, daughters and grandchildren throughout his career and the influence of his parents in instilling core values in him.
“Live by your core values, and do not ever compromise them,” he said. “Although the world is a very different place than when I started my career, the core values remain the same … Pursue your passions, not someone else’s expectations, and give it all you’ve got.”
To close the ceremony, Emanuelle Tulsky, an accounting, finance and organizational management major, delivered a thank-you message from the Class of 2022, expressing gratitude to family members for the sacrifice and support they have offered to all of the graduates throughout their lives.
*Correction: Rohm and Haas was acquired by Dow NOT DuPont as previously stated.