Ten minutes before starting a midterm exam in her Health Care: Markets, Analytics and Strategies class, Lauren Hemingway MBA’20 checked her email. It was 6:20 p.m. on March 10, and what she read would change everything—for her, her classmates, and the entire Babson College community.
Because of the pandemic, the College announced that it would move all students off campus and all classes online for the rest of the semester.
“The whole exam, that’s all I can think about,” Hemingway said. “I was very, very mad. I wasn’t mad at Babson; obviously, it’s what they had to do, and it was out of their control. But, I love to go to school, and this was our last chance to be together.
“And, I was sitting in a three-hour exam.”
Hemingway wasn’t alone in her frustration. The Class of 2020—undergraduate and graduate students alike—shared a sense of tremendous loss.
Shocking. Overwhelming. Mourning.
Those are just some of the words that Babson’s most recent graduates use to describe the week before spring break, when they had to pack up their belongings, say goodbye to friends, move off campus, and prepare to complete their Babson experience online.
First, though, Hemingway had to finish that pesky midterm. How did she do?
“Oh, I got an A,” she said. “I was fine.”
Like Hemingway, the entire Class of 2020 aced the real-life pop quiz that dramatically altered their final semester at Babson—and their futures. Time and time again, these students have proven their strength and resilience, their ability to thrive amid disruption, and their potential impact as entrepreneurial leaders.
Just listen to them talk about the present and the future. The Class of 2020 knows it is prepared to tackle the unprecedented uncertainty of its times.
READ MORE: 20 Reasons We Love the Class of 2020
“Personally, I’ve grown a ton throughout my time at Babson and understanding how failing is just part of the road,” Darwiche said. “These rocks in the road, they are things you can use to build your own home. Being an entrepreneurial leader and coming from Babson, that’s the main thing I learned.”
Darwiche, who started at Babson in January 2017, is due to start his first job as a trader for BNP Paribas in August, but he’s just as focused on helping his classmates traverse this rocky road.
“I’m lucky enough to have this offer for now, but I want to help other people who don’t,” said Darwiche, who’s not alone in looking out for his fellow alumni. “You’re seeing how the Babson community is supporting itself.”
It’s that compassion and empathy that helped earn him the Michael J. Conlon Spirit Award for his leadership, integrity, and willingness to support others. Working together, Darwiche is confident about the class’ future.
“I think that 10 years from now,” Darwiche said, “you’ll see a Class of 2020 with extremely successful people who have learned a ton from opportunities like this.”
She was born and raised in Paris, moved with her family to Miami when she was 13, advanced from English as a Second Language as a high school freshman to AP-level English classes as a junior, then completed her Babson degree in three years.
“Babson really taught us to not be fearful,” Mouyal said. “I don’t have a job right now, but I’m not at all fearful.”
Instead, she’s focused on studying for the GRE and applying to graduate school. And, as a certified nutritionist and wellness consultant, she’s writing an e-book on the connection between mindset and nutrition.
“I’m very proud of being a part of the Class of 2020. It’s definitely a class that will forever be remembered for our resilience and for not giving up,” Mouyal said. “Our class, specifically with everything we’ve learned at Babson, we’re very much well-equipped to handle everything that life throws at us.
“We have a degree under our belts and we have the knowledge and we have the network from Babson. When we look back in 30 years, I want to make sure I’m telling my kids how I handled it in terms of my mental strength and that I was a good person to my community.”
He and his wife came to the United States intent on earning their MBAs, so he worked while she studied. Then, he began Babson’s One-Year MBA program in May 2019 while she cared for their 2-year-old daughter back home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Alone in Boston for the first six months, he was determined to make the most of his Babson experience, spending countless hours on campus, sometimes returning home at 2 or 3 in the morning.
By March, his family had returned to Boston, his startup venture was at a critical juncture, and he was trying to navigate his precious final semester (including 18 credits). Then, the pandemic hit. “It was overwhelming personally,” he said.
But Karim credits Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® (ET&A™)—and a standing daily Zoom invitation with his 39-person cohort—for helping him persevere.
“This one year has completely transformed my life and how I take things in life,” he said. “I feel ET&A now is part of our DNA.”
Karim has been forced to temporarily park his startup venture, CollegeSpot, an online platform to help improve recruiting for colleges by connecting them with prospective students, and is now looking for a job as a product manager to make ends meet. Yet, he remains confident for the future.
“Yes, these are difficult times, and I’m sure there will be so many difficult hurdles that we have not thought of or imagined before this,” he said. “But, one thing I know for sure: Whenever I say that I am the Class of 2020, people will immediately remember how tough the situation was and what kind of attitude was required during that time. Credit to Babson for teaching us those survival instincts and how to always stay hungry for success.”
Her parents—Peter Hemingway ’84, MBA’91, P’20 and Christina Sica Hemingway ’81, P’20—met as undergraduates.
“Now, I feel like Babson belongs to me in a very different way, and I have my own part of Babson history now,” she said. “It’s enriched by our whole family experience, but I really feel like I’ve been able to kind of have my own story.”
Hemingway began the Two-Year MBA program in 2018, terrified to make the switch after a career as a graphic designer. But, she conquered her initial fears and became a standout in the grad school. She also parlayed an internship into a full-time job as marketing and digital communications manager with BONESUPPORT, a Swedish osteobiologics company.
In the end, Hemingway received the Marketing Award and a Dean’s Leadership Award, and she was chosen as the student speaker at The Penultimate Lecture. Her message was simple: We are ready.
“Never has our ability to think outside the box been more vital. We will be the leaders who create lasting change, because we are not afraid to fail,” she told her fellow graduate students. “I know we are ready to face these challenges, because we are entrepreneurs. … We know not only how to solve problems, but how to make sure we are solving the right problems. In a world that seems to be cracking around us, I can think of no group better prepared to meet this challenge head-on.”
The challenges are daunting, but Gabbi Tiangco ’20, for one, knows the Class of 2020 is a force to be reckoned with, too.
“It’s our class that is tasked with the opportunity to rise to the occasion and really instigate the change we want to see in the world,” she said, “especially now with a lot of the things that are going on, not just with COVID, but with Black Lives Matter and so many injustices that are going on around the world. I’m pretty confident that it’s going to be us who will hopefully make that change.”
The Class of 2020 knows it was made for this moment, and it’s ready to answer the call.
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