In this second installment, we focus on Babson’s graduate students. On a hot afternoon in May, hundreds of them gather on Babson’s campus for their graduation ceremony.
Here are some of their stories:
Ashley Patterson MBA’22 may be in the Webster Center with her friends, gathering for the eventual march to the tent for Commencement, but her mind is in the past, thinking about her first days at Babson.
“I showed up a little insecure, not really knowing who I was, questioning everything a little bit, like, ‘OK. Now what path do I want to go down?’ ” Patterson says. So much has changed during her two years at Babson. Patterson is co-president of the Babson Black Graduate Club, and she’s graduating with an incredible network of contacts.
“It really has been a journey,” Patterson says. “I still don’t know what I’m doing post-graduation, but I feel really good about who I am and who I’ve become. It’s all because of the resources here at Babson.”
She’s bringing another part of her past with her as she picks up her degree. Attached to one of the tassels dangling from her mortarboard is a picture of her father, who passed away in 2019.
“I wanted him to be with me today. I wanted to make sure that I honored him,” Patterson says. “I know he’s with me, and he’s really proud of me.”
The Father and Daughter
On the court of Staake Gymnasium, as a flurry of graduates mills about them, Curtis Augustin MS’22, P’24 and Caylene Augustin ’24 take time to reflect on how their paths crossed at Babson.
Back when Curtis first dropped off his daughter, Caylene, at Babson to begin her college career, he didn’t realize that his own life would also soon begin a new chapter.
Impressed by the business focus of Babson he saw on that trip, Curtis eventually enrolled in the school for a master’s degree. “She picked the school first,” Curtis says. “I’m glad she chose it. I’m glad she brought me to Babson.”
With both attending the same school, they had an appreciation for the difficulty of the courses each was taking, and they shared a bemusement at the many acronyms (ET&A, QTM, etc.) tossed about at Babson. “We have common terminology,” Curtis says.
As Caylene and her siblings were growing up, Curtis preached to them the importance of working hard and keeping high standards for themselves. At Babson, Caylene saw that in action in her dad. “He is constantly showing what excellence is,” she says. “He had good grades, and he did everything while being a dad and working full time and going to school.”
Curtis, who works as a director of technology at an Atlanta charter school, is equally impressed by what he sees in his high-achieving daughter. “I’m so proud of her,” he says.
The Sailboat Dress
Besides the earrings she’s sporting in the shape of the African continent, and the small portable electric fan she’s carrying in an attempt to ward off the day’s heat, Jayda Pounds MSEL’22 is wearing a dress underneath her graduation gown with a special meaning to her.
A year before, on her birthday, she bought the dress, which is covered with sailboats heading off across the sea. Since then, she never had a chance to wear it.
So, with Commencement at hand and with her birthday once again coming around, she decided finally to pull it out of the closet. Wearing it, she couldn’t help but reflect on the year gone by, a year that saw her start and complete her Babson program. “It went by so quick,” she says.
In the program, she learned that there are many ways to be an effective leader. “I was able to figure out how to be a leader without being in charge all the time,” she says.
The Minnesota resident also reflected on how she came to Babson seeking a global perspective and met people from around the world. “I love my classmates,” she says. “I know they will do great things.”
“It really has been a journey. I still don’t know what I’m doing post-graduation, but I feel really good about who I am and who I’ve become. It’s all because of the resources here at Babson.”
Ashley Patterson MBA’22
The Paparazzo Pals
Aanjan Patodia MSEL’22 walks down the bleacher steps in the Staake Gymnasium after posing for the official Class of 2022 photo—another classic tradition of the day complete.
For Patodia’s friends, however, picture time is far from over.
The excited group of 10 classmates take turns posing for a comprehensive roster of photos to capture graduation day—holding flowers, hugging their pals both with and without the flowers, arm in arm, arm in arm with graduation caps, flashing the peace sign while wearing their graduation gowns.
Patodia stands slightly aside from the action, smiling as his friends take turns both posing for and taking the photos.
“I always dreamed about going to college and graduating, and now it’s done. It’s a good feeling,” he says. As the youngest in his family’s auto parts company in Maharashtra, India, Patodia is eager to put his degree to use. But, right now, he’s thinking about his father, who’s here from India to watch his son pick up his degree.
“It was always my dad’s dream to be educated abroad,” Patodia says. “He could not do that, so now he’ll see his son do it.”
Alex Zook MBA’22 isn’t exactly in his comfort zone. As he and the other members of his class begin walking toward the Commencement ceremony tent at 3 p.m., the temperature hits a not entirely comfortable 85 degrees.
The feeling is fitting. Just as Zook’s excitement carries him through his discomfort on graduation day, his dream of theater management carried the actor through his awkward relationship with finance and leadership.
“I wanted to be an actor before this, so I was transitioning from a creative field where people tell you what to do and how to be, to a place that’s much more professionally driven,” Zook says. “The content of these classes were so important to me, because I didn’t have the business background that a lot of my classmates have.”
His professors and advisors at Babson, as well as his wife and parents, helped Zook push through his discomfort with math classes, “that I, as a theater professional, can’t do and wasn’t born to do.”
Zook is leaving Babson as a theatrical entrepreneur—he’s interested in owning and running a theater company, but, in true Babson fashion, he doesn’t want to limit himself.
“I found my direction here,” Zook says. “I always knew where my passion was, but Babson helped me take what I love and figure out what I can do to be most useful.”
Read this Commencement series’ first installment, which focuses on Babson’s graduating undergraduates.
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