We came to Haas to dream: EWMBA class of 2016

By Laura Counts

When Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA 2016 student speaker Luis Bellon wrapped up his commencement speech at the Greek Theater last week, he produced a pair of scissors from under his gown. 

"Join me in throwing away our old boxes, the ones that are now too small...and here's shedding boxes!" And with a flourish, he snipped off his long ponytail. 

 It caught the crowd's attention—they roared with laughter and applause—but it was not a mere attention-getting stunt. Bellon's heartfelt  speech captured what many of his classmates have expressed: three years in the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA program was transformative.

"We came to Haas to dream," Bellon said, quoting classmate Iris Korovesi. "What has united us all from the first was that original nagging feeling; that knowledge clawing at us from inside: that there was more to life, and to us, than what we were before Haas."

A week earlier, students in the EWMBA Class of 2016 gathered for a graduation celebration. "The energy throughout the night was amazing," said Assistant Dean Courtney Chandler, who directs the program. "The buzz in the room showed clearly that they had bonded throughout their time here." 
Most of the graduates, who came in with an average of eight years of work experience, completed the program while balancing day jobs and other life demands. Many left having transformed their career trajectories or taken on new roles within their organizations. More than a few are launching their own ventures—by an informal count, 15 companies have been started by students while in the program. One member of the class, Megan Mokri, founded two startups (her 2nd startup, Byte, was recently featured in Fast Company).
At the same time, students didn't hit pause on their lives. Chandler said there are at least three new couples within the class—one couple has already gotten married. And more than 30 babies were born to students over their three years at Berkeley Haas. (Check out some of the beautiful babies and children at commencement!)
The class didn't slack on academics, either. Graduate Sara Narayan won the Outstanding Academic Achievement award, having earned a GPA of 3.956.
And several others were singled out by their classmates for stand-out contributions to the class. At commencement, five graduates received the program's inaugural Defining Principles awards, given to those who embody each of the school's four defining principles—and to one student who embodies all four:

Question the Status Quo: Elvina Hewitt 

We lead by championing bold ideas, taking intelligent risks and accepting sensible failures. This means speaking our minds even when it challenges convention. As leaders and creative thinkers, we thrive at the world’s epicenter of innovation.

Confidence Without Attitude: William Morgenstern

We make decisions based on evidence and analysis, giving us the confidence to act without arrogance. We lead through trust and collaboration.

 Students Always: Angela Cheng

We are a community designed for curiosity and lifelong pursuit of personal and intellectual growth. We know that there is always more to learn. We strive to engage with others in continuous pursuit of knowledge and growth.

 Beyond Yourself: Melissa Althea Tsang 

We shape our world by leading ethically and responsibly. As stewards of our enterprises, we take the longer view in our decisions and actions. This often means putting larger interests above our own.

The Berkeley Leader Award: Jack Shao-Wei Song 

 Award winners William Morgenstern, Elvina Hewitt, Angela Cheng, Jack Shao-Wei Song, Melissa Althea Tsang, and Sara Narayan, and student speaker Luis Bellon
Learn more about the  Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program
Posted on June 2, 2016
Themes: MBA Benefits
Laura Counts
Laura is a senior marketing and communications manager at Berkeley-Haas. As a former journalist, she finds no shortage of interesting stories to tell at Haas. As a Cal alum, she loves being able to walk to work through redwood groves along Strawberry Creek.