Brandeis International Business School

Yilan Tang's 2018 Brandeis IBS Commencement Remarks

Delivered at Brandeis University on May 13, 2018

Good Morning! I am Yilan Tang. I am graduating as a MBA student today! I am so honored and delighted to deliver this speech today!

Welcome Dean Peter Petri, and soon to be Dean,Katy Graddy, our esteemed guest, Professor Kaushik Basu, IBS faculty & staff, Families & friends and amazing student body!

Around 30 years ago, I was not supposed to be born under One-Child policy in China because my parents already had my brother and sister. But when my mother pregnant with again, my father decided to quit his job to keep me , because he believes that nothing would be as important as a life. How lucky I am ! I couldn’t stand here without my parents’ insightful decision. Since that moment, I learnt to be grateful for life.

Two years ago, when I turned down a promotion opportunity from my bank supervisor before receiving any offers from US universities to pursue a MBA degree, she said, “Why would you do such a thing? I don’t quite understand…are you sure you want to take this risk for this uncertainty?”

Everything happens for a reason!  I was soon to understand all the reasons why I was so decisive in making these choices to come to Brandeis.

This is the place where I learned that teaching is not only about instilling book knowledge in students, but more about enlightening students on how to think, how to communicate and how to explore ourselves. From Professor Bayone, we learned to ask questions like: “What is really going on here?”  He provoked our thinking to go more deeply below the surface. We also learned from him the best way of saying no: I don’t dream your dream anymore.” Teaching here not only happens one-way from professors to students, it also happens from students to professors and peer-to-peer.

This is the place where I learned that True Caring is not what you think is best for others, but is to provide what others might really want. It lies in the ways our faculty and professors talk with us, it lies in the facilities our school chose for us, it lies in every delicately designed and organized event, it lies in every chocolate our Professor Tibor Toth prepared for our evening classes, it lies in every breakfast the student services office prepared for us before exams, it even lies in every free big red apple in Viola’s office.  She must know that apples are too expensive for poor students like me!

This is the place where schoolmates and alumni are not only the ones who compete with you for scholarship or internships, but also  a close and connected family from whom you learn, seek help, and cherish for your whole life. To quote Professor Mckay’s famous sentence: This is awesome!

This is the place where I learned true humility and respect. I learned them from Professor  Brenda Anderson’s three principles for successful life: Be humble; Be a good listener, and Be brave to take responsibilities for our mistakes; I have witnessed the humility from our professors who would always ask students’ opinions for class improvement. During our tragedy period when we lost our fellow graduate student Kurtis, I saw humility and respect from our Dean, Peter Petri and associate Dean, Kate Goldfield who accompanied and supported Kurtis’ parents for their whole stay in USA during this difficult time. 

This is the place where I learned success is not measured by how much money you make and how high your social status will be, it’s much more about how much you  know about yourself, what you are passionate about and how to push yourself to your limits and beyond.

This is the place where I am 100% accepted. I don’t need to ask perfect questions, I don’t need to speak perfect English and I don’t need to be good at everything. I learned that we may not be perfect but we are imperfect in ways that compliment each other and allow us to succeed.

This is a community where all of us share a common mission inside to love, protect and make better. I can see this in the joint efforts from our current students and alumni to get through difficult situations together. I also see that from one of our alumni who perceives the best way for me to thank him with my job search is by passing on this love and help to future students. 

One of my best friends, Sai Praneeth, said: “The professors here can see people: for example, Brad Morrison is amazing.  When I was tentative about making a comment without raising my hand, he always caught this… Sai, you seem to have something to say?”

Another one of my best friends, Taha Allaith told me that he felt so proud of our school’s open-mindedness because it is where students’ advice is taken seriously. I feel proud of you, too, Taha. Thank you for your valuable suggestions! 

There are so many good stories I would like to tell, either my own or from my dear peers to prove the reasons why I wanted to come here so surely, but I won’t tell you all. I want to leave the rest of them for my future alumni events. And I am looking forward to hearing yours when we get together in the future.

If I say 30 years ago, my father gave me a first life by quitting his job, I would say Brandeis gave me a second life for enlightening me and leading me to pursue a more conscious and meaningful life in the future. Thank you, Dad and Mom! Thank you, Brandeis! Thank you, IBS faculty and staff, Thank you, my dear brothers and sisters! Thank you all! Congraduations! Happy mother’s day to all Moms here.