EMBA Commencement Speaker: Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, EMBA'21

May 24, 2021

Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, EMBA’21, in a black commencement cap and gown
Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, EMBA’21

Esteemed Dean Weil, distinguished members of the Heller School faculty and staff, fellow graduates, and dearest family and friends:

It is my incredible honor to humbly represent the 2021 Executive MBA physician cohort. Heavy with logistical challenges and overwhelming grief, the past year has also been sprinkled with small victories that restore hope. Allow me to reflect back and look ahead.

On day one of classes, Dr. Chilingerian—in true fatherly Executive MBA fashion—began by welcoming and mentally preparing us for our new reality. He then quickly proceeded to call on me to provide a summary of our very first case study assignment. Having been unexpectedly launched into the spotlight, reality set in… there was no turning back. In that moment, ready or not, I was being fully immersed and bounded to the role of student. Many of you probably recall a similar moment at the start of your Heller journey, and since then, we’ve benefited immensely from the expertise of the faculty who diligently teach us and of those who generously share their insights through articles, books, and case studies. May our roles as learners not cease with graduation.

For the past 16 months, we have been pushed to the edges of our comfort zones where we had no choice but to stretch and grow. Functioning at the edge between comfort and panic, where commitment and time management must be maximally optimized, our newly acquired knowledge and skill would inevitably transform us into more confident and competent leaders. Completing the MBA while fighting for the lives of our patients, we have climbed our Mount Everest and we have ALL, together, reached the summit. We know how to lead and when to follow, and we must now each tackle our next climb.

Some already have their paths laid out before them. Others are actively mapping out their paths. And still others are entrusting destiny to light the way. Yet what we all have in common is that we are heading towards our own versions of greatness and we are fully in control. Whether the path is clear or ostensibly left to destiny, we create opportunity. We create our futures. With passion, commitment, and intentionality, we can accomplish anything we set our hearts and minds to accomplish.

In line with the Brandeis motto, “Truth, Even Unto Its Innermost Parts,” we must now look inwardly and remind ourselves of our purpose as we embark on our post-Heller paths. I am confident that, at the core, we are all here because we are committed to the common good. We are committed to rigorous academic inquiry in search of meaningful solutions for our world’s most vexing economic, social, and health challenges. Specific to my physician cohort who witness daily the epic failures of an unwieldy health system that has grown so unmanageable and unaffordable that it exacerbates the suffering of those who lack the resources to access it: we see you and we are committed to transformation.

Deeply rooted social and health inequities have been amplified by the pandemic and laid bare for all to see. Ideologically, we are polarized—our reality and truths often held without appreciation or understanding of the reality and truths of fellow brethren. Our world has always been divided into the haves and have-nots; our collective human spirit and potential, diminished by the structural forces that continue to oppress parts of us with no intimation of restoration. We must dismantle this paradigm and fight for what is right. The status quo cannot be our future. 

My fellow Heller School graduates, we ARE the future. Guided by courage, kindness, humility, and an entrepreneurial spirit, we can bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice and move the needle towards equity. We can catalyze change. We can be the change. In the famous and wise words of former President Obama,

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Congratulations to all my fellow graduates. On this auspicious and momentous day, may you embark, unabated and undeterred, on your paths towards greatness and may you each effect the change you seek!

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