26 May 2016

Student Speaker at HBS Class Day Ceremony Recounts Her Year of Sadness and Success

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BOSTON—Marcelle de Souza Goncalves Meira, who was chosen by her peers in the MBA Class of 2016 to be the student speaker at yesterday’s Class Day ceremony at Harvard Business School, has experienced the worst and best of times during her days as a second-year student.

Her husband, classmate, and fellow Brazilian, Pedro, passed away last September after a four-month battle with stomach cancer. But with the love, friendship, and support of the HBS community, especially her classmates, she said she was able to move forward with her life and stand before her classmates, ready to receive her HBS diploma and return to her work in Rio de Janeiro.

“The most important present you gave us was your presence,” Marcelle explained in her eloquent and moving address. “You were truly there for us, always compassionate, ever selfless. You cried, but you also bravely laughed with us….And in the many months that followed, you kept me from drowning….I truly wouldn’t be here today…if it wasn’t for you.”

Marcelle noted that the School had given her husband his diploma just a few days before he died, recalling his words when he received it. “HBS is a place for development,” he said. “I learned and accomplished a lot here. There are many things I still wish I could do, but I know there are many people here that will do it for me.”

As the large audience stood to applaud, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pedro’s last wish would be fulfilled many times over.


Jim Aisner

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.