College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Convocation and Graduation Ceremonies for Class of 2006


Graduation is both an end and a beginning. Receiving a degree is the end of one cycle of education and, for most, the beginning of a career.
The class of 2006 celebrated its convocation on May 13 with speeches, laughter, and a few tears.

Steve Van Arsdell.Steve Van Arsdell (right), a senior partner at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, was the speaker for the College ceremony in the Assembly Hall. A member of the Class of 1972, Van Arsdell urged graduates to choose to be optimistic, noting that when he graduated the world faced economic problems and heightened international violence. Like today, it was easy to be overwhelmed in the 1970s by the difficult issues of the times.
He also told the students to get involved in what they are passionate about. “This goes for your personal as well as your professional choices. Choose to be involved not only in your careers but also in your families and in your communities. Volunteer to help others in an area you truly care about,” he said. “In my case, I have found my ongoing involvement with the University of Illinois to be a terrific experience. In truth, I have never left the University of Illinois; though, I assure you, I did graduate. Helping this great College, which has helped me so greatly, is truly a pleasure.”
Van Arsdell, who currently serves on the Dean’s Business Council and on the board of the College of Business Alumni Association, urged the students to approach their lives with optimism, approach their endeavors with passion, and to do everything with integrity. “If you do,” he said, “you will succeed.”

Everett Westmeyer.Also addressing the graduates was Everett Westmeyer, speaking on behalf of the College of Business Alumni Association. Westmeyer urged the graduates to stay in touch with each other and to utlize the resources of the alumni association to keep their affiliation with the campus strong.
“Take a look around you – sitting around you are some of your best friends. The friends who helped you study for the CPA, complete that difficult case study, pass Statistics, and the friends who stood by your side as a part of countless activities and organizations,” he said. “These are the same friends who will help you study for your broker’s or insurance license, give you a reference for your next position, and perhaps the friends who will some day hire you. But how will you stay connected over the next 5 or 10 years? This is where the College of Business Alumni Association comes in.”

Jan Valentic.In a separate ceremony for MBA students, speaker Jan Valentic talked about the key lesson she has learned in her career and her life. Executive VP at Young & Rubicam Brands in Seattle and the global team lead for the Microsoft account, Valentic told the graduates that the lesson is not about having all the answers.
“It’s about living with intent, about making the conscious choice to pursue fulfillment, and to motivate those around you to do the same,” she said. “These have become the two simple touchstones that have guided me throughout my life – and which, for me, define success and satisfaction as a person and as a business leader: find what you love and love what you do, and be a catalyst to unleash the power of others.”
A former VP of global marketing at Ford, Valentic assured the graduates that positive thinking was a powerful enabler. “If you consciously and positively think about how you will create your day – for yourself and those around you – your life will change. And success will follow. … This is how I work to make my reality what I want it to be. You can do it, too.”

The graduation speaker for the 135th campus commencement on Sunday, May 14, was 1983 College of Business graduate Thomas Seibel (MBA). He told graduates that they should give thought to where they wanted to work. “After you get in the door, the rest is up to you. Make it happen,” he said.
The ceremony marked the awarding of the 500,000th degree by the Urbana campus.

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