Brandeis International Business School

Passion & purpose: Celebrating the Class of 2021

Brandeis International Business School graduates urged to make bold decisions, embrace diversity, equity and unity

Dean Kathryn Graddy congratulated the Class of 2021 graduates for persevering amid extraordinary circumstances.

Dean Kathryn Graddy congratulated the Class of 2021 graduates for persevering amid extraordinary circumstances.

Selim Blliku, MBA’21 came to Brandeis eager to reach new heights.

In this sense, the Class of 2021 graduate embodies the spirit of his home country, Albania, which in recent generations has experienced a great transformation. 

Under communist rule, Blliku’s mother and father were denied the opportunity to go to college. But in the decades since Albania’s transition to capitalism and liberal democracy, Blliku said his parents have instilled the importance of education into their children.

“They have worked so hard and for so long, all so that my brother and I could get a proper education and live a better life,” said Blliku, who on May 23 served as the student speaker during Brandeis International Business School’s virtual commencement ceremony.

At Brandeis, Blliku challenged himself academically and got involved in as many ways as possible — serving as both an Admissions Ambassador and as president of the International Business School Student Association.

None of it would have been possible without scholarship support, which Blliku said is why he felt obligated to involve himself so deeply in student life at the International Business School. “This opportunity has given me the tools and knowledge to make a profound impact on my life and on those around me,” he said. 

Blliku urged his fellow graduates to face life’s challenges head on, and to pursue their careers with passion, purpose and a recognition of those who will come next.

“Think about what you want to do in life — what is meaningful and important to you and why,” said Blliku. “The path from where we are and where we want to go is in our hands. And if you feel something is calling for you, make those bold decisions so the life you live is meaningful and impactful.”

Guest speaker Josh Kraft, president of Kraft Family Philanthropies and the former Nicholas President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, emphasized the ideals of diversity, equity and unity that comprise a central pillar of Brandeis’ core philosophy.

Despite a difficult 16 months marked by the coronavirus pandemic, Kraft said you can still see these same ideals at play around the world. Indeed, they are hallmarks of civilization.

Kraft recalled an anecdote from the anthropologist Margaret Mead. During a presentation, Mead said a healed human femur dug up from an archaeological site was the first evidence of civilization. In ancient cultures, the fact that the group protected, cared for and fed a member with a broken leg, who could not work as much during recovery, revealed compassion.

“Compassion is the first sign of civilization,” said Kraft. “Without compassion, there is no diversity, no equity, no unity.”

Dean Kathryn Graddy congratulated the graduates for completing their master’s degrees amid unprecedented circumstances, and commended them for their willingness to support one another during the pandemic.

“Along the way, there have been many acts of kindness and empathy — some big and others small — within our community,” said Graddy. “In trying times like these it is important to remember that we are not an island — we are all in this together. All of these stories illuminate the importance of helping others. And they bring to life our university’s founding principle of ‘repairing the world.’”