First-ever MSBA Graduates Among Those Honored at Hooding Ceremony

Ph.D students pose with faculty members at the hooding ceremony Image by Ed Brennen
Ph.D. Program Director Kimberly Merriman, right, and Asst. Prof. Tunde Kovacs, third from right, pose with graduating doctoral students at the Hooding Ceremony.

By Ed Brennen

Before they walked across the stage at Commencement 2018 to receive their advanced degrees, more than 140 graduate students from the Manning School of Business attended the annual Hooding Ceremony at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.

This year’s ceremony included the first-ever graduating class of the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program, which awarded 17 degrees. The program was developed in response to the rising demand for professionals skilled in making sense of the exponential growth of information in the age of Big Data.

The Manning School conferred 449 graduate degrees in all this year, including 371 Master of Business Administration (MBA), 35 Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), 13 Master of Science in Finance (MSF), seven Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSE) and six from the doctoral program, in addition to the 17 MSBA degrees.

Ph.D. grad Lauren Turner is recognized during the ceremony Image by Ed Brennen
Senior Assoc. Vice Chancellor Lauren Turner is recognized for completing her Ph.D. in leadership organization studies.

Manning School Dean Sandy Richtermeyer, who co-hosted the ceremony with Asst. Dean Leticia Porter, noted that graduate students make up almost one-third of the Manning School’s 3,400 students.

“Our graduate students are so critical to the future and growth of our college,” Richtermeyer said as she congratulated students on their achievement. “We are so proud to see this number growing.”

Three students received the Gary Mucica Outstanding MBA Student Award: Ashley Marotte, Michelle Russell and Yusaku Kawade.

Outstanding student awards also went to finance doctoral student Yi Shen (Ph.D. Teaching), Victoria Makumbi (MSA), Ronald Bouley (MSE), Yadi Wang (MSF) and Neha Ajgaonkar (MSBA).

In her keynote address, MBA alum Sarah LaLiberte ’06, CEO and founder of global tech consulting firm Mainspire, offered graduates advice on overcoming setbacks in their careers. She recalled feeling like a failure after being laid off from a job at a public relations agency in her early 20s.

Abitus students from Japan pose for a group photo on stage Image by Ed Brennen
Abitus students from Japan pose for a group photo during the Hooding Ceremony at the ICC.

“In retrospect, it was a tremendous opportunity. It was the universe telling me I needed to go out and start my own business,” she said. “There’s no such thing as failure. Failure is simply feedback. There’s a reason it’s called Heinz 57; there were 56 failures before they figured it out.”

Nearly three dozen students from the Manning School’s Abitus partnership traveled from Japan to attend the ceremony, including Kazuhiro Hirata.

Hirata works for a Japanese trading company in Osaka called Mitsui & Co., where he imports industrial gas from the United States. He decided to get his MBA online from the Manning School after reading about the Abitus partnership in his local newspaper.

“I am involved with so much international business these days,” Hirata said, “so I thought maybe the MBA program could be a good learning opportunity for me to improve my skills and knowledge about international businesses. And I was right.”

Two young women have their photo taken in the photo booth at the ceremony Image by Ed Brennen
Graduate students and their guests could pose for fun pictures in the photo booth.

Hirata, who had been to the United States before on business, was making his first-ever visit to the UMass Lowell campus. “It’s very helpful and inspiring to meet so many people here from different industries and businesses,” he said.

Also making his first visit to campus was Mohammad Hasib Siddiqi, who spent a year and a half earning his MBA online. Siddiqi, who lives in Alexandria, Va., works as a financial analyst at FHI 360, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.

“With my MBA, I have goals of being promoted to finance director or manager,” said Siddiqi, a native of Afghanistan who heard about UMass Lowell from a relative living in Boston.

“I only knew my classmates and faculty by name online, so this is nice to finally meet many of them face to face,” Siddiqi said.