FSB commencement speakers tout graduates' accomplishments, skills, and future

Annika Fowler, Collin O'Sullivan, and Marc Rubin

Like most things this spring, the Farmer School of Business Divisional Recognition Ceremony was unlike any previous year. Made virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event allowed thousands of graduates, friends, and family to watch the virtual ceremony, interact with the graduates in designated chat rooms and post congratulations and words of encouragement.

Student speakers Annika Fowler and Collin O’Sullivan, and Farmer School dean Marc Rubin, acknowledged the strange way the school year ended, while remarking on how little it changed the outcome.

“Many of us, myself included, probably find ourselves, ‘all dressed up, with nowhere to go.’  While this weekend certainly looks different than how we pictured it four years ago when we first arrived in Oxford, it by no means diminishes all that we have accomplished as Miamians,” Fowler said.

“While we were unable to experience several traditions, both those sanctioned by the University and those that were not, we leave the Farmer School of Business with the ability to flourish in the unknown,” O’Sullivan noted.

“Last September, Forbes published a list of the most important skills needed to succeed. Top of their list were resilience, agility, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. They should sound familiar to you…they are same skills you have learned and used in your classes, your internships, in teams and organizations …and over the last few months, you took them to next level,” Rubin remarked. “In so doing, you leave here ready to change the world in ways I cannot even imagine, and I could not be more proud of you.”

“We were part of student organizations and missions bigger than ourselves. We served our communities and engaged with some of the most pressing societal issues of our time. We found ourselves with an unconventional end, but not before we learned how to find unconventional and innovative solutions. We were ambitious not for ourselves, but for higher causes and purposes. In short, we achieved without being conspicuous, precisely Miami’s motto of 'Prodesse Quam Conspici,'” Fowler said.

“Change will happen; none of us are immune to it and it will often cause disruptive consequences in our lives. However, our ability to leverage our community and skillsets enables us to reframe our thinking and ultimately improve the world around us,” O’Sullivan said. “We have navigated through our trials and tribulations with the help of an extensive network of our peers, organizations, staff, faculty, and family. This has given us the propensity to drive forward, reach beyond our comfort zones, and overcome obstacles with unmatched resilience.”

“There are two words that should be familiar to every Farmer School student – “beyond ready.” It’s our promise that you will be more than prepared to succeed as you graduate and make your mark in the world. And while I am certain that these last few months, and this Miami sendoff are not the ones any of us would have chosen, the way that you responded to the hand you were dealt, clearly proves that you are, indeed, beyond ready,” Rubin pointed out.

“One thing we have in common – choosing Miami for a critically important phase of our lives – although for me, that phase has lasted quite a bit longer than yours has. But I have never questioned my choice to attend Miami or return as a faculty member, it has been a wonderful journey,” Rubin told the graduates. “There’s something else that we share – and it’s a bittersweet event for us both – today marks the end of this stage of our journeys and the start of another. For you – it’s on to careers. For me, it’s on to retirement.  I know for myself that I will always engage with Miami and be a committed member of the Miami and FSB community and I hope you feel the same.”

“As we begin our new chapters, may we seek to serve a greater mission. One that inspires us. One that motivates us. One that reminds us of the why behind our work, for the truest form of humanity is serving others before ourselves,” Fowler remarked. “I hope our work is uplifting, fulfilling, and challenging. But when it becomes tedious, troublesome, and stressful, we should remember why we are doing it. The reward, the prize, the elixir, is not one of personal gain, but rather one where the world is just even incrementally better for the person beside us.”

“I challenge us to eliminate doubt and hesitancy and instead seek and embrace transformations. As leaders, we are not defined by our titles or statuses, but rather, by a desire to build upon the foundation set before and take chances to break away from the status quo,” O’Sullivan said. “Our futures will continue to be fluid, and there will be unexpected changes to our life’s syllabus; nevertheless, with the community and skillsets we have gained from the Farmer School of Business, we are ready to make our mark.”

“We know you will uphold our pillars of integrity, respect and responsibility in all that you do,” Rubin said. “As Maya Angelou noted, ‘Your mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.’ I know you can, and I believe that you will.”

To watch Annika, Collin, and Marc's speeches, click here

To watch the full FSB commencement event, click here