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Our EMP85 cohort during Global Electives in Germany

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve traveled almost 25,000 miles and I’ve realized that you can’t “think” internationally unless you “learn” internationally.  The global elective program I attended at our partner school WHU in Vallendar, Germany this past month brought me closer to European Economics, Luxury Brand Management, and last but not least my fellow classmates.

Our Luxury Brand Management Class at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany

Our class graduation is on the horizon and this time of year is always a bittersweet moment in life.  I’ve always asked myself, “how can I feel sad and happy at the exact same time about a particular event in my life?”  Sad that memories I shared with my fellow classmates in study group, team projects, and late night lounge have come to an end.  Happy that the homework, hair-pulling from learning challenging subject matter, and travel pains will come to a close and I’ll gain my personal life back.

Our class started our journey together 2 years ago as complete strangers together for one purpose – to earn a Kellogg MBA.  In retrospect I can’t really say that I don’t know how we accomplished it all.  Frankly, we accomplished it all because we helped each other through the Kellogg experience.

As I get older I realize making sincere friends becomes more difficult.  Sharing the experience of growing together at Kellogg with 60 strangers has fostered life-long friendships – stuff you can’t get anywhere else.  I’m thankful I’ve met some of the most brilliant, passionate, articulate leaders on the face of this planet and can’t wait to see how we change the world together for the better.

I have realized that I’ve grown more in the past 2 years than I have ever in life.  Our class has shared experiences and witnessed it all together.  From learning lean operations in Evanston to mastering luxury branding in Germany; spending time together in Brazil while innovating in Miami; eating late night noodles in Hong Kong and braving the cold winter nights in Chicago; and lastly just being there for each other when someone needs a shoulder to cry on – our class finally made it.

To quote one of our professors in a recent farewell speech, we don’t have a Kellogg MBA, we are a Kellogg MBA.  Having an MBA from Kellogg is a gift – something you keep with you your entire life.  Kellogg has taught us how to dream big and to think bravely.  I was only able to realize my own potential and how I can harness that potential after I finished the program.  My classmates and I are more confident, motivated, and inspiring leaders because of our experience learning from each other and learning together.

As the members of our graduating class come together one last time to celebrate our accomplishments, we all will start new chapters of our lives.  We share in each others’ success and support each others’ hardships because we are family.  Here’s to our future – EMP85 Class of 2012 and to the many successes, joys, and people we touch as we make this a better world!

Here’s a toast to my friends all around the world sharing this graduation moment and particularly to my graduation class – EMP85…

EMP85 – Celebrating the End of Classes