Advice to Class of 2017: “Life is a Team Sport”

Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna Penny Pritzker and Dean Levin send graduates off to launch careers of meaning and impact.

June 21, 2017


Penny Pritzker, MBA/JD ’85 | Saul Bromberger

On Saturday June 17, 505 students gathered in Maples Auditorium to receive their degrees and listen to remarks from Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, MBA/JD ’85 and Jonathan Levin, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean.

Pritzker offered these words of wisdom for the Class of 2017 — stay humble, embrace a team-approach to tasks, and find “white space,” where they can solve problems or make a difference at the diploma ceremony on Saturday.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Pritzker said. “Your career, your life, will not go as planned. But trust in yourself. Have the courage to find your ‘white space’ — even if it terrifies you. Surround yourself with great teams — family, friends, and colleagues who you like, respect, and trust.

“Life is a team sport, and no matter how self-reliant or resilient or talented we may think we are, none of us will get very far unless we surround ourselves with supportive teams.”

It is to you as our graduates to be great innovators and citizens and leaders, to inspire and unify and elevate those around you.
Dean Levin

In his first Stanford GSB graduation ceremony, Dean Levin encouraged the graduates to leave their Stanford GSB experience with discovery, intentionality, and community.

“You, the Class of 2017, are the first Stanford GSB class I have had the privilege of sending out into the world,” Levin said. “I am so proud of what you have accomplished here, and what I know you will accomplish in your careers and lives.

“As our graduates, you also will represent the Stanford GSB in our broader societal community. You are going forth at a pivotal time. Tolerance and civil discourse are at a low ebb. Take some of the trust and goodwill we have here with you into the world. It is to you as our graduates to be great innovators and citizens and leaders, to inspire and unify and elevate those around you.

“For most people, accomplishing something meaningful takes years or decades,” he said. “It takes persistence and purpose and intentionality, and I hope you will carry those attributes with you into your careers and lives.”


Members of the Class of 2017 | Saul Bromberger

The June 17 diploma ceremony celebrated 505 individuals awarded degrees this year:

  • 392 MBAs
  • 89 Masters of Science (MSx)
  • 20 PhDs
  • 2 Masters of Arts in Business Research

Of those earning MBAs, 45 earned a joint degree:

  • 17 in Education
  • 11 in Law
  • 15 in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources
  • 2 in computer science

Public Management Program certificates were awarded to 134 MBA and 27 MSx graduates.

Toluwaloju Elizabeth Alabi was recognized as this year’s Ernest C. Arbuckle Award winner for her contributions to the school and society through active participation, initiative, leadership, and personal integrity.

Graduating at the top of his class, David Yuxuan Zhang was named the Henry Ford II Scholar for academic achievement. Edward J.T. Casserley received the Alexander A. Robichek Student Achievement Award in Finance, which recognizes an MBA student by finance faculty for academic achievement in the field.

Among the 40 Arjay Miller Scholars deemed the academically highest 10 percent of the graduating MBA class, 30 percent were women.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 and welcome to Alumnihood!

— Heather Hansen

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