Monday, June 12, 2006

Some Additional Nuggets From The HBS Graduation – Inspiring Moments

I ran out of time on Friday before needing to leave my office, so I was not able to add two additional nuggets from my observations of the Harvard Business School graduation ceremonies last week.

Dean Jay O. Light highlighted several inspiring stories of graduates who had had to overcome significant physical challenges to finish their degrees. One student was diagnosed with ALS shortly after beginning his MBA studies. The other students in his Section - and throughout the rest of the student body – rallied around him. The afflicted student decided to turn adversity into opportunity, and used his new and personal knowledge of the challenges of ALS to raise awareness of the disease among the HBS community. This student teamed with his Section President, Nate Boaz (a member of the Armed Forces Alumni Association, and a likely future U.S. Senator from the State of Georgia!), to organize students, faculty and staff to raise a large amount of money for ALS research. There could not have been many people who were not deeply moved last Thursday when this determined student, now clearly impaired by the progress of the disease, slowly made his way across the stage to receive his diploma accompanied by the cheers and applause of the HBS community.

Another student whose graduation was especially poignant was a man who had been seriously injured in an automobile accident, and had to withdraw from school. His injuries were severe, and required many months of hospitalization and rehabilitation. He eventually was able to return to school, now confined to a motorized wheelchair. Although his original class had already graduated, he was welcomed warmly into the Class of 2006. None of us who were there will soon forget the sight of this courageous man steering his wheelchair up the ramp and across the platform to have his long-awaited diploma awarded to him.

It is clear that not all of the leaders that make their way through Harvard Business School follow the same path. Some hone their leadership skills in combat, others through diligence and hard work in the classroom and library, still others through facing and overcoming unexpected obstacles.

It was an inspiring day all around. I think you can understand why a little rain did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm and the spirit of celebration that was in the air that day at HBS.

Al

1 comment:

Heather said...

Al,
Thank you so much for sharing these brave stories. I just wanted to add that Avi Kremer, my sectionmate with ALS, has also managed to raise, I believe, over $11M for ALS. His latest work, with Nate and other friends, is called Prize4Life and is a prize contest to find an effective treatment for ALS. I hope your readers can take the opportunity to read more about Avi's fight at the contest's webpage, www.prize4life.org.

I must also say thank you to you Al, for battling the rain right along side of us at graduation. You have been such a wonderful supporter and friend for so many of us at HBS, and we were proud to have you at the ceremony.

God Bless,
Heather