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Mike Zani, CEMBA '13

Mike Zani, CEMBA '13

Apr 02

Are communities common? Come on!?!?

The spiritual path is not a solo endeavor. In fact, the very notion of a self who is trying to free her/himself is a delusion. We are in it together and the company of spiritual friends helps us realize our interconnectedness.” – Tara Brach

OK, so before anyone begins thinking that our program is a deeply spiritual experience where we begin each day holding hands, singing Kumbaya, and pass around the peyote in a quest for enlightenment…  Just stop right there…  That’s not exactly the mental picture I am intending to paint right now.  Today’s blog is about….  Well, just keep reading and hopefully you’ll understand.

It’s unbelievable to think that we are fast approaching the midway point of our CEMBA experience.  As we reach “the turn”, I am sensing that the range of emotions that come with the experience are expanding and intensifying.  It’s difficult to figure out why exactly, though there are multiple factors for certain.  I am sure one component is our witnessing the Class of 2012 coming closer to the end of their graduate program (seeing then fitted for caps and gowns, taking graduation pictures, talking about final projects, and simply their growing anticipation of reaching graduation).  In addition, there is a realization that soon we will be the veteran class, and the ambassadors to the new incoming Class of 2014.  In the past few months, we have had the pleasure to host many prospective Class of 2014 students during our classes.  As these individuals draw closer to matriculating as students, it feels as if they are also drawing closer to our class.  This makes perfect sense as we will all be together in the next academic year.  The Class of 2013 is highly enthused to welcome and get to really know the next class into the Cornell community.  Hmmm….  Community….

I want to really focus on this word because it is probably the finest word to describe what it is to be in the CEMBA program… the Johnson school… and the entire Cornell ecosystem.  This past class weekend we were addressed by Dean Joe Thomas who introduced Dean-designate Soumitra Dutta to the classes.  The Dean-designate was asked to elaborate on what enticed him to join the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management.  Of his multiple reasons for being drawn to Johnson, he specifically keyed on the sense of community that Cornell offers.  This could not be more accurate.  In my opinion, it is this community that we have been privileged to enter that is our distinguishing characteristic, and what makes the CEMBA program so special.  So what makes this so special, and why should be paying any attention to this?  Well, I think it is easily summarized in an Anthony Burgess quote, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”  Brilliantly simple considering he also holds the unique brain who penned the novel, A Clockwork Orange.

Here at Johson, people care.  It’s really just that simple.  Whether it be the faculty, the administration, the alumni, and (most notably) your classmates... everybody cares.  Success in this program requires a large commitment, let’s not deny that.  Yet, as time goes on, you actually find yourself abandoning the stresses of the commitments because you are surrounded by people that care.

Our class has adopted a “No man left behind” personality, which is pretty special in itself given we are all driven, type-A over-achievers.  We are not only willing, but WANT to help fellow classmates rather than watch them struggle and potentially do poorly in a class.  We are a blend of personalities from a breadth of professional and educational backgrounds, and as we go from course to course, there are classmates that have obvious expertise and clear knowledge advantage above others.  Now I am willing to make a bold assumption here and venture to say that in other MBA programs there exists a “dog eat dog” mentality where individuals relish being superior than those around them.  But you won’t find that "every man for himself" attitude here.  This is a community, and a very special one at that.

Pictured from l to r: Naomi Mirsky '13, Alina Shastun '13, Lena '12

Night out on St. Patty's Day.  The evening began with over 80 classmates from 2012 & 2013 at Lucky Strike Bowling at The Palisades Mall, then continued the St. Patty's festivities (enter inference here) in downtown Nyack.

New Dean-desingate Soumitra Dutta addressing the Classes of 2012 & 2013 for the first time.  Welcome Dean Dutta!

Spencer Carter '13 and soon to be Class of 2014 Melissa Cortale taking in some refreshments during a class break.

Pictured from l to r: Aditya Misra '13, Kaushik Bhattacharya (aka: KB) '13, Professor Vishal Narayan, Crystal Marsh, Jay Boera '13 and Allison Watters '13.

Dean's reception after Saturday classes.  If you were wondering, KB does smile every now and then (we think).

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