At commencement ceremonies on Monday, May 16, at Mariucci Arena, 652 undergraduates and 689 graduate students received their Carlson School degrees. Ten PhD degrees in business administration were also awarded.

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Undergraduates received Bachelor of Science in Business degrees. Graduate students participated in diverse programs including Full-Time, Part-Time, and Executive MBA; Global Executive MBA (China and Vienna), Master of Arts in Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Master of Business Taxation, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Science in Business Analytics.

Throughout two ceremonies (undergraduate and graduate), the Carlson School honored graduating students and offered words of wisdom for the future.

Business as a force for good

Dean Sri Zaheer inspired the emerging leaders to embrace business as a means to shape a brighter world.


“At its core, business is truly about creating new ideas for the future. It’s about enabling consumers, employees, and people to improve their own quality of life and contribute to improving that of others,” she says. “Part of why I’m so optimistic for the future is that I’ve seen you all embracing these principles while at the Carlson School.”

Examples of students who used business as a force for good were numerous among the day’s graduates. Zaheer mentioned a few examples: MBA students cultivating start-ups to make the Twin Cities a better place, undergrad students who journeyed to Cuba to pitch new business ventures to local entrepreneurs, and a student-founded business seeking to improve lives for students on the autism spectrum.

Building a fulfilling career

The keynote speaker was GoreCreek Advisors CEO Barbara Mowry, '75 MBA. She imparted wisdom from her decades' experience as a corporate executive, intrapreneur, entrepreneur, and corporate board member.

Barbara Mowry

Mowry says if she could impart one piece of advice for excelling in business, it would be that leaders in any industry or organization should adopt a start-up mindset.

“I have been an entrepreneur in four companies. My best career advice to my 25-year-old self would be to think like an entrepreneur: think big, start small, and get small successes as fast as you can,” she says.

Celebrating formative experiences

The undergraduate ceremony featured remarks from Alex Cherucheril. The MIS and finance major co-founded student mentorship group +One, served as Midwest regional director of his fraternity, and was involved in numerous student leadership organizations. He will go on to join the strategy and finance practice at Deloitte.

Alex Cherucheril

Cherucheril reflected on the most important lessons he gained from his years as a Carlson School student. By studying abroad, interacting with his fellow students, working as a research assistant, and more, the emerging graduate says he learned invaluable lessons.

“The business concepts we learned and the corporate case studies we analyzed will enable us to be successful early in our careers. Our school understands that becoming successful in business is not about memorizing words like ‘synergy.’ Success is often a result of being an open person with diverse experiences, who can solve problems and think critically,” Cherucheril says.

Making a positive impact

Murid Amini


The graduate ceremony included a speech by Murid Amini, a Part-Time MBA student whose family immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan when he was four years old. His graduation marks the 13th University of Minnesota degree earned by Amini and his seven siblings—all first-generation college students (pictured below).

Murid Amini and fellow graduates


Amini's dream is to shape a more peaceful, technologically advanced, and educated world for his weeks-old daughter to inherit. And in his commencement address, he emboldened his fellow graduates to use the knowledge they’ve gained to make a positive impact on the world.

"My coursework in strategy, marketing, finance, operations, and other aspects of business not only inspired me to create a brighter future, it enabled me,” he says. “I now have the knowledge, and therefor the responsibility, to make a positive impact.”

Students receive achievement awards

Several students were recognized for their academic achievements throughout the commencement ceremonies. 

The Tomato Can Loving Cup Award, the school’s highest honor to an undergraduate student, was presented to Annette Betting-Fuentes. She is the 87th recipient of the award. 

More on Betting-Fuentes and the Tomato Can Loving Cup Award

Annette Betting-Fuentes


The Academic Excellence Award, given to the highest academically ranked undergraduate senior, was awarded to Denver Collins, Adrian Koo, and Davis Lane.

Katrina Rudisel was named a community engagement scholar. This designation is earned by students who complete nine credits of service-learning course work, at least 400 hours of community service, a series of reflective pieces, and an integrative community project that results in the creation of a sustainable project for a community organization.

The Dean's award for best undergraduate honors theses went to Olivia Grev for "The Buzz or the Brand? How Consumer Perceptions of Brand Authority are Influenced by Buzzword Labels” and Sido Wright for “One Does Not Simply Ignore the Lyrics: Finding the Relationship Between Linguistic Complexity in Lyric and Popularity of Songs.”

Additional nominees were Xinqiang (Adrian) Gan, Brittany Linman, Eric Roden, and Paige Thorburn. All nominated students developed innovative thesis projects and demonstrated great initiative, professionalism, and independent thinking throughout their project. 

Graduates join the alumni network

To conclude the commencement ceremonies, Alumni Board President Tim Huebsch, ‘07 MBA, welcomed the newest inductees to the Carlson School alumni community: a network of 55,000 members that spans 95 countries.

Tim Huebsch

He reminded the graduates that there are countless ways to remain engaged with their alma mater —regardless of where their journey brings them. Alumni give back to the school by mentoring students, speaking in classrooms, making financial gifts, and so much more.

“However you choose to stay connected, I promise you, you’ll feel as inspired and motivated as the students you reach. Graduates, we’re counting on you to keep the Carlson School community proud, strong, and active,” says Huebsch, General Mills senior solutions manager for supply chain field solutions.

Professors craft gifts for graduates

Carlson School faculty members took a break from teaching to create a special memento that graduating students can carry forward into the next phase of their lives. Professors Aks Zaheer, William Li, and Ravi Bapna; and Senior Lecturers Seth Werner and Svjetlana Madzar helped craft mugs for the new graduates, and offered well wishes for the future. 

Check out the Carlson School on Facebook for more photos from the commencement ceremonies.

Relive the commencement ceremonies

Graduate ceremony

Undergraduate ceremony