26 May 2023

Harvard Business School's MBA Class of 2023 Celebrates Class Day


BOSTON—On Wednesday, May 24, 2023, Baker Lawn was filled with smiles, applause, and sunshine as all 984 members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) MBA Class of 2023 gathered to celebrate Class Day. Typically taking place the day before Commencement, Class Day is planned and conducted by a committee of graduating MBA students. Along with family, friends, and guests, graduates honored five faculty teaching award recipients, and listened to speeches from classmates and one of this year’s Alumni Achievement Award winners.

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The event began with remarks from Sam Deutsch, head senator of the Student Association (SA) Class Day Committee. Deutsch acknowledged the tribal land on which the University is situated and the more than 70 individuals who were enslaved by Harvard leaders, faculty, and staff. “These acknowledgments are intended to stand alongside our celebrations this week and to recognize ongoing efforts by the University and its affiliates to consider their history and the present-day implications of that history,” he said.

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Deutsch then introduced SA co-presidents Zoe Matthew and Sebastian Negron-Reichard, who thanked their SA executive team and members of the administration for the time and devotion they gave to make the class of 2023’s experience a memorable one.

Matthews and Negron-Reichard reflected on the highs and lows experienced by the Class of 2023, including dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, and what that means as they head out into the world. “And perhaps, that is our legacy. A generation of leaders who is uniquely prepared to ride the rollercoaster of life,” Matthews commented.

Class Day co-chairs Katie Donnewald and Temi Olonilua presented Faculty Teaching Awards to Senior Lecturer Tony Mayo, Professor Sophus Reinert, and Assistant Professor Charlotte Robertson from the first year Required Curriculum, and Professor Tom Nicholas and Associate Professor Meg Rithmire from the second year Elective Curriculum, for their excellence and dedication to teaching, and for the positive impact they had both in and out of the classroom.

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Student speaker Adán Acevedo urged his classmates to remember the importance of empathy and compassion as leaders. Acevedo shared the story of his parents’ journey from El Salvador to the United States and his own as the child of first-generation immigrants. He noted that his achievements in life, which include attending Harvard College, interning at the White House Office of Public Engagement, and teaching with Teach for America, would not have been possible without the support of his wife, parents, teachers, and managers.

Reminding the audience that being kind, practicing compassion, and creating community are actions and not aesthetics, Acevedo praised some of his classmates who have already led with these principles. “In spite of what we’ve learned about scarcity and finite resources, there is no limit to the supply of kindness and compassion,” he said. “We have our summer plans, our plane tickets, and our moving vans booked. We have a well of memories that will never run dry. And we have the friendships that filled it. The only question now, is: After two years at Harvard Business School, what kind of leader will you be?”

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Olonilua then introduced Class Day Distinguished Speaker Raymond J. McGuire (JD/MBA 1984), current president of financial services company Lazard, former vice chairman of Citigroup, and a recipient of one of the 2023 Alumni Achievement Awards. After greeting the audience and acknowledging those who helped him along the way, McGuire reflected on his journey, noting the ‘four Ps’ that helped him through difficult times: prayer, preparation, performance, and paranoia. He urged the students to tackle some of society’s most important issues, including climate change, education, the nation’s political divide, and democracy itself.

“HBS shines in its commitment to staying above parochial and divisive politics and holds true to its foundation of thorough, in-depth teaching, of training leaders for tomorrow’s most difficult challenges,” he said. "Your legacy resides somewhere between the wealth that you create and the lives you impact. Your privilege will give you a choice. Be ye ever mindful that in the fight to preserve our republic and to save our climate there can be no spectators.”

Class Day concluded with brief remarks from Olonilua, who gave a final thanks to the speakers, faculty, staff, Class Day Committee, partners, children, friends, and family. “And with that, we’ve concluded another milestone. Tomorrow, we will have finished at least part of what we set out to do after enrolling. Let us all take a moment to soak it up and try to remain present as this experience comes officially to a close. Congratulations, Class of 2023, set out now to make your difference in the world. We can’t wait to see what that is!”


Mark Cautela

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.