Tomorrow is my graduation day at the University of St. Thomas! Congratulations to my fellow MBA graduates. We did it!

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Graduate student being hooded during the OCB commencement with Fr. Dease looking on.

What an amazing three years it has been.

When I started this journey back in 2008, I thought I was seeking a graduate-level education. Really, that was all I had set out to do. But then so many other things happened along the way which I never could have imagined. My pursuit of an MBA turned out to be more than just books and lectures and grades; it became so much bigger than that.

I’ve spent the past three years (17 classes and about 2,300 hours) focused fairly exclusively on my studies. Many of my hobbies and social pursuits had to go by the wayside (and in some cases, stop altogether) while I dedicated a lot of my time to school. As much sacrifice as this has required, every second has been worth it. And then some.

Knowledge is an incredibly powerful thing. If we synthesize it correctly, we become better decision makers and ultimately it helps us begin to see the world in an entirely different way. I would be remiss if I didn’t end this MBA journey with the very same learning on which it began. My first professor, Thomas Ressler, Ph.D., who teaches statistics, introduced us to and passionately reinforced this all too important concept: that our most critical objective in dealing with any situation must be to frame it the right way before we take action. (Frame it improperly and you’ll solve the wrong problem.)

As the name of my blog implies (frame+ology), mastering this ability to see multiple and divergent viewpoints around any issue or situation opens up our thinking, empowers our decision-making and can make the impossible, possible.

I’ve used this imperative a thousand times since. I use it every day. I use it professionally. I use it personally. It’s helped me set big life-changing goals and knock them out of the park. When you shift your personal frame from “Why?” to “Why not?” big things start to happen.

With my MBA experience now officially complete, I end this part of the journey focused on a solitary mission: to contribute something meaningful, transformational and important to the world. That means using every skill and ounce of determination I possess to create real and sustainable positive change.

As I said in a blog post last fall, hope is an amazing thing. It’s a powerful connection between two forces … one believing that a better way is possible and another acting to make it happen. True – hope is not a strategy. But real change has no chance without it. So for those who hold hope, I promise to act.

One of my classes this semester featured several guest CEO lecturers who shared their thoughts on leadership, struggle and success. Out of that came one particular theme which so succinctly summarizes this MBA experience for me: you will achieve the most in your career (and in life) when you finally learn to just be who you are.

Suddenly, that’s not so hard anymore.

And for that I am profoundly grateful.

Larissa A. Rodriguez, MBA
University of St. Thomas – Opus College of Business
Class of 2011