Riding the Waves of a Sea Change

Two weeks from Monday I begin my last semester (ever!) as an MBA grad student. This final milestone has filled me with endless excitement, a very strong sense of purpose and a whole lot of gratitude. It also has me reflecting on why I started this journey and what I have gotten out of it. In fact, I can’t believe just how much I have changed as a person over the past three years and how much I have grown in the process.

One of the hallmarks of my education has been the idea that “An MBA, first and foremost, is about changing the way you think,” which was said over and over again by my professors in my first few classes. Leaders must possess the ability to see multiple perspectives from which to create the most appropriate and effective solution for any kind of situation. I got the message loud and clear, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t completely sure what that meant. After all, wasn’t I already doing that? So, time passed, I kept assessing my own thought processes watching for the “big” change and I kept wondering if I’d know it when it happened.

Well, my change in thinking surely did come, but like most things, I didn’t just wake up one day and realize it had happened; it was definitely incremental. I knew my thinking had changed when I began to see it in action. While that’s to be expected in my professional life (after all, that was the reason for getting an MBA), I am most enamored with just how much this experience has enriched my personal life.

I no longer see obstacles; only opportunities. I no longer give in to perceived personal limits; I push past them. I no longer avoid difficult goals; I put in the effort. Every day my actions reinforce just how differently I now see the world and my place in it.

So, as I begin reflecting on the end of this rigorous educational journey (I told you I would do this!), I will leave St. Thomas knowing that I accomplished exactly what my professors hoped I would as we discussed on that very first night of class. I am grateful not just for the extensive knowledge they have given me, but for the deep belief they hold in each one of us MBA candidates to be effective, ethical and compassionate leaders. I intend to make them proud.

Evening UST MBA student Larissa Rodriguez, is a marketing and communications executive.