Three Haas Classes Toss Caps at Commencements


Students in the Undergraduate Program, Full-time MBA, and Evening and Weekend MBA classes will toss their caps in commencement ceremonies in the Greek Theater this week.

Four hundred seniors will celebrate the end of their undergraduate studies at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and on Friday at 2 p.m., 251 Full-time and 250 Evening & Weekend MBA students will receive their degrees.

Following Haas school tradition, both commencements will feature notable alumni as speakers.

Undergraduate Ceremony

At the undergraduate ceremony, Linda Lang, BS 80, retired chairman and CEO of Jack in the Box, will share her thoughts on values-driven leadership.

Following Lang’s address, the class will honor Hunter Lew with the Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement; Kevin Kai as the top Haas Community Fellow; and the Haas Culture Award winners: David Jongwoo Park for Question the Status Quo, Tanya Shih-Ping Choo for Confidence Without Attitude, Robert Pak-Keung Yu for Students Always, and Vi Phuong Tran and Navgeet King Zed for Beyond Yourself.

Ryan Khalessi, who majored in business with a concentration in global management in Asia and the Middle East, is the student speaker. Khalessi co-founded the non-profit Amir Khalessi Foundation, which promotes worldwide literacy. He also serves as program manager for the Young Entrepreneurs at Haas (YEAH), a mentoring program for underserved high school students.

Full-Time & EWMBA Ceremony

At Friday’s MBA ceremony, Belden CEO John Stroup, MBA 95, will deliver the commencement address. Since 2005, Stroup has served as CEO of St. Louis, MO-based Belden, Inc., a Fortune 1000 company that designs and manufactures cables, connectors, serves, and routers. Stroup attended the Haas evening program while working full-time at precision-engineering manufacturer Parker Hannifin in Rohnert Park.

The Full-time MBA class selected Sandeep Pahuja as its student speaker. A former Procter & Gamble account executive, Pahuja interned at IDEO last summer while explore his interest in design consulting. He also served as a student career coach and was a fellow at SkyDeck, the UC Berkeley accelerator, where he worked with faculty and students on startups.


During the ceremony, the Academic Achievement Award will be given to students with the highest GPA, while Service and Leadership awards will be given to full-time students who contributed the most volunteer hours, and who made the greatest lasting impact in improving their community and the school.

Sharif Karmally will receive the Full-time MBA Academic Achievement Award. Full-Time MBA Service and Leadership Awards will go to Katie Benintende, Nikita T. Mitchell, Sandeep Pahuja, Jesse Samuel Silberberg, and Kory Vargas Caro.  The Academic Achievement Award winners for the Evening & Weekend MBA Program will go to Andrew McNeil and Oren Schetrit.

Brandon Middleton, a business development manager at Microsoft, is student speaker for the Evening & Weekend MBA class. Middleton is a former board member with the San Jose Repertory Theatre and former Berkeley board fellow with the Mural Music & Arts Project.

The winners of the Cheit teaching awards for faculty and graduate student instructors will also be honored during the ceremonies.

The 2015 Cheit Awards for Excellence in Teaching:

  • Prof. Christine Parlour, PhD program
  • Lecturer Rob Chandra, Undergraduate Program
  • Prof. Panos Patatoukas, Financial Information Analysis, Evening Class
  • Prof. Xiao-Jun Zhang, Financial Reporting, Weekend Class
  • Prof. John Morgan, Full-time MBA
  • Prof. Toby Stuart, Executive MBA Program
  • Prof. Laurent El-Ghaoui, MFE Program

Full-time MBA Honorable Mentions:

  • Prof. Ernesto Dal Bo
  • Assoc. Prof. Lucas Davis
  • Prof. Ross Levine

The 2015 Cheit Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors are:

  • Victoria J. Chiang, Undergraduate Program
  • Moulay Driss Belkebir Mrani, MBA 2015, Evening & Weekend MBA Program
  • Ken Lee, Full-time MBA Program
  • Lucy Hu, Executive MBA Program
  • Raymond C.W. Leung, MFE Program