Brandeis International Business School

Celebrating the Class of 2023: ‘Education opened impossible doors’

International Business School graduates urged to use knowledge and skills to improve the world, embrace lifelong Brandeis connection

Graduates gathered inside the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center for commencement.

Graduates gathered inside the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center for commencement.

Shagufa Habibi, MA’23 knows determination and persistence.

A native of Herat, Afghanistan, Habibi escaped a life of oppression and found refuge, education and self-purpose at Brandeis International Business School.

“I learned on this journey that education gives me hope,” said Habibi, a graduating member of the Class of 2023. “Education made me certain in life. Education opened impossible doors for me.”

Habibi addressed her classmates on May 19 at the International Business School’s graduation ceremony. Two days later, 278 graduates from 33 countries received their diplomas at Brandeis University’s Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.

“We are closing this chapter with cheers, love and happiness,” said Habibi. “Let’s all be here for one another and continue the legacy of kindness, caring and wisdom which we attained from our professors and the Brandeis community. Let us use the knowledge and skills we acquired here to build our world and make it better. Let us continue shining brightly and never give up, no matter what!”

After commending the Class of 2023 for their hard work and dedication, Dean Kathryn Graddy reminded the graduates that their connection to Brandeis is lifelong.

“Keep in touch with fellow students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said Graddy. “And be confident that everything you learn in life will prepare you for what’s next. You are leaving Brandeis with a potent combination of knowledge, skills and experiences.”

Five International Business School students were honored with academic and community awards.

Zlata Shchekoldina, MA’23 and Felipe Maquieira, MA’23 received the MA Program Award for Academic Excellence, while Dren Krasniqi, MBA’23 and Bhavana Chandaka, MBA’23 received the MBA Program Prize for Excellence in Business Leadership. Rushit Suthar, MBA’23 received the Kate Goldfield Community Leadership Award.

Graddy also presented the 2023 Dean’s Medal to Barbara Clarke, MA’91.

A successful economist, entrepreneur and investor, Clarke is the founder and board chair of The Impact Seat Foundation, a nonprofit melding impact investing, grantmaking and advocacy to create a world in which women succeed as business leaders.

She told stories from her own experience that emphasized the importance of social capital—not just building it, but knowing how to spend it as well. In one story, a company in Boston wanted to recruit her, but she refused to work with another employee there who created a toxic work environment.

She essentially told them, “Him or me.” They chose her, fired him, and the staff appreciated her taking a stand for them before even walking in the door.

“When I put my food down and said, this person has to go, my social capital didn’t go down. It went up,” said Clarke, a Brandeis graduate and member of the International Business School’s Board of Advisors. “And I know that's not always true. Sometimes you stick your neck out and something bad happens. But oftentimes it works to your benefit. I encourage you all to build your social capital because you never know where it's going to lead you.”

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