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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Milken donor urges business school graduates to adapt in a changing workforce

Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor
Philanthropist Michael Milken, who donated to the Milken Institute School of Public Health, addressed about 300 graduates in the School of Business Thursday.

Philanthropist Michael Milken, whose donation prompted officials to name the Milken Institute School of Public Health, addressed about 300 graduates in the School of Business Thursday.

Milken, a student speaker and business school Dean Anuj Mehrotra called on graduates in the Smith Center to adapt to a quickly changing world and remember to be kind in the careers they pursue.

Milken said technology and industries have changed dramatically since his time in college in the 1960s. Graduates should continue to learn about technological advancements throughout life as they remain in the workforce, he said.

“At the end of the 1960s, the most powerful person, and often the wealthiest person in a community, was the person that owned the newspaper,” Milken said. “Today, the person who owns a newspaper is generally the poorest person in the community. At the end of the ’60s, it was the phone call. Today it’s text. It was taxis, today it’s shared cars.”

Mitchell Oertel, the student speaker, urged students to build a “resume” for who they are as people instead of defining themselves by their career accomplishments.

“We are all at a unique point in our lives as we’re tailoring our resumes and accepting job opportunities to hopefully positions that will build our aspirational careers,” he said. “However, I firmly believe that the true test of fulfilling life is to build a resume that demonstrates who we are as people and allows our peers to complement that. It’s a resume that isn’t a collection of titles, but rather a showcase of one’s life purpose.”

He added that students should lead the rest of their lives with kindness as they enter their careers.

“I studied economics and public policy in the School of Business, so I’m going to leave you with an equation,” he said. “The sum of living a life of goodness equals the sum of living kindly out of goodness today, kindly out of goodness tomorrow and kindly out of goodness next week.”

Mehrotra, the business school dean, encouraged graduates to stay true to their values as they start the next chapter in their lives.

“The word ‘commencement’ really derives from the word ‘to commence,’ that is to start, to begin,” he said. “I want us to remember that today, because this is just the beginning, in many ways.”

He said if the graduates feel “apprehension” about their next phase in life, they should remember that their experiences in college have prepared them to take on challenges and changes in career paths.

“You may change jobs or even careers several times throughout your life,” Mehrotra said. “But just remember that when you wake up next week after the University Commencement on Sunday, that you have already embraced change during your time at GW.”

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