MBA Commencement Speaker: Adwoa Asare, MBA'19

May 19, 2019

Adwoa Asare, MBA'19, speaking at Heller commencement

Good morning Heller community.

My name is Adwoa Asare. I am the daughter of Kwabena and Justina. I am the sister of Kwasi, Akua, and Tamika. I am the aunt of Kofi and Amma. I am the friend of Erika and Stephanie. And I am the cohort leader of the MBA class of 2019. I am humbled to stand here before you today. What do you say to a room full of people who helped transform your life? I learned a long time ago that when you don’t know what to say, begin with thank you.

Thank you, Dean Weil and Dr. Madison who came to Heller at the same time as this graduating class. Thank you, Norma, Rosella, Erica, Benny, and other staff who guided us through this process. We were able to share our frustrations and delights with you freely, knowing it would never affect our academic progress reports.

Thank you, Carole, Michael, Ellen, Lynn, and the admissions committee for hand-selecting this special cohort. It may not have been obvious at the time, but you created magic. Thank you to our MBA faculty who responded to our desire to curate diverse, intersectional content in the classroom. Special thanks to Joel who served as a mentor and advisor to me.

My classmates will attest that during my time at Heller I was involved in pretty much everything. I was president of the Net Impact Club, member of the Heller Awards selection committee, graduate assistant for the Career Development Center, and teaching assistant for two pro-seminars. And when I wasn’t volunteering, I competed in entrepreneurship events.

I am a strong believer that you get out, what you put in. And I put everything I had into my time at Heller. When I look around today at my peers, family, and friends I know that it was all worth it.

These are my three tips for success after Heller:

1. Community: Stay in touch with your Heller classmates across all programs. Lean on one another as friends and resources. We are naturally drawn towards those with whom we share interests. Remain open to new people and new ideas. As social justice champions we should continue to embrace those who are different from us. Build a community wherever you go.

2. Lead from within: We came to Heller for a reason. To be the change we wish to see in the world. As we learned in over 50 business case studies, challenging old concepts is difficult and creating new models takes buy-in. Lead from where you are. Find mentors who can teach you how they blazed a new path—and find someone you can mentor. Share what you’ve learned. It may not feel like it some days, but you have accomplished so much. Remember this day and all that you have achieved. This is just the beginning, friends!

3. Gratitude: In all things give thanks. This is a guiding principle for me and one that has no downside. Tell people how much they mean to you, count your blessings both small and large, enjoy your work just as much as you enjoy your play. Gratitude is a gift that gives twice. 

I’d like to leave you with this modified Franciscan blessing from my time at Habitat for Humanity:

“May we be blessed with DISCOMFORT at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May we be blessed with ANGER at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people. So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May we be blessed with TEARS to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war. So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may we be blessed with enough FOOLISHNESS to believe that we can make a difference in this world. So that we can do what others claim cannot be done.”

Thank you so much everyone! We did it!