Hundreds to Graduate in Undergrad, MBA, PhD Ceremonies

More than 900 Haas School students will throw their mortarboards into the air this month as they celebrate graduation and the beginning of the next stage of their lives in three separate ceremonies.

PhD Graduation

The Berkeley-Haas PhD program will be the first to hold its graduation ceremony, which will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, in the Wells Fargo Room. Since dissertations are still in the process of being filed, the number of PhD graduates had not yet been determined at press time.

MBA Commencement

On the following day, Sunday, May 15, 500 graduates of the Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA programs will celebrate their accomplishments at 2:00 p.m. in the Greek Theatre, followed by a reception at the Campanile Esplanade. The graduates are evenly split in number between the two programs. The Berkeley-Columbia MBA students previously held their own ceremony, after completing their program earlier this spring,

Barbara Desoer, MBA 77, president of home loans at Bank of America, will inspire the crowd with her journey from Haas up to the top levels of the company, which is the largest U.S. lender by assets. During her career at the banking giant, she has led several departments, and in 2009 was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine.

During the ceremony, outstanding MBA students will be recognized with awards in three areas: academic achievement; community service (Community Fellows who have contributed the most community service hours); and service and leadership (those who have made a lasting impact by improving the community and the school).

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Undergraduate Commencement

Four hundred undergraduate students will receive their diplomas on Monday, May 16, at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre. John Riccitiello, BS 81, will deliver the commencement speech, sharing with the students and their guests some of what he has learned as CEO of Electronic Arts and in previous positions at Clorox, Pepsi, Sara Lee, Wilson Sports, and private equity firm Elevation Partners, which he cofounded.

Three students will be honored for their exceptional achievements while at Haas. Kevin Wei will receive the Department Citation in Business, awarded to the student with the top academic record. Wei has a double major in business administration and media studies and has accepted a position in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs. Ultimately, he intends to return to school for an MBA and start his own company or investment fund.

Sabrina Yessayan has been chosen to be the commencement speaker by her classmates. She minored in theater and performance studies; served as president of BareStage, Berkeley’s theater company; and traveled to Copenhagen as a member of the Haas external case competition team. Yessayan will soon begin her professional career at Deloitte Consulting.

Neda Saghafi is this year’s Community Fellow, chosen on the basis of her volunteer work. She will graduate with a double degree in business administration and psychology and a minor in global poverty and practice. Her efforts included serving as a Bonner Leader with the Cal Corps Public Service Center, a YWCA youth mentor, and a Tata Fellow working in rural development in India. She will soon head for Baltimore to begin a two-year stint with Teach for America, while at the same time working toward an MA in education from Johns Hopkins University.

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Job Outlook

In looking ahead to the next stage of their lives, this year’s graduates are experiencing more employment opportunities than they’ve seen in recent years. For MBAs, on-campus recruiting opportunities were up 12 percent over last year, according to Abby Scott, executive director of MBA Career Services. “We doubled our global job opportunities year-over-year, and continue to invest in our strategy to connect with employers for roles outside the U.S,” Scott says.

In addition to gains in on-campus recruiting, CareerNet full-time job postings are up 15 percent year-to-date and still climbing, according to Scott.

Undergraduates are seeing a bit of an uptick in opportunities as well. “Tech companies and startups are investing more in internships and hiring, in their marketing and finance departments in particular,” says Paul Savage of the UC Berkeley Career Center. “[Jobs in] the accounting industry really didn’t go away, and those numbers are up as well. The investment banking industry and the consulting businesses are both very healthy this year. Signs of that are participation in career fairs and scheduling first-round interviews through campus recruiting.”

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