Category Archives: Current Events

Graduation Reflections & Going Forward

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And just like that…I am now an International MBA graduate of the Moore School of Business! April and May have been two of the busiest months of my life, completing my last semester of graduate school, preparing for graduation, searching for housing in Greenville, moving across the country, visiting family, and planning summer vacations before my next chapter begins at Michelin.

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Thank you so much for your patience in my time of transition – I can’t wait to be more active on inspirNational again once everything is settled this summer. Right now is one of my first moments in months where I have more than a half hour to spare as I am waiting for my trip to Seattle to begin. I have so many thoughts to share with you about my last few months, including my weekend trips to Savannah, Charleston, and Traverse City, my graduation, and my reflections as I prepare for my next life phase. Over the next several weeks, I will share these thoughts with you.

To begin, I wanted to pass along my graduation speech that I shared at the MBA Soiree on the evening before my graduation. It captures the essence of my IMBA experience and was an honor to represent my class.

“Hi Everyone! My name is Brittany VanderBeek. I am an International MBA graduate in the French track, who studied supply chain management and business analytics. As the MBA Student Association President, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

First of all, thank you to MBA Programs Office for making today possible and for your endless support throughout our MBA journey.

Thank you to the faculty and staff here today who have been there every step of the way – pushing us to reach our potential, growing our understanding of the world, supporting us when we need it most, and cheering us on during our successes.

Thank you to all members of the Student Association for your enthusiasm and hard work to represent the voice of our class and to plan events to strengthen our MBA community.

To our families and friends – thank you all for being here to celebrate the MBA graduates. We couldn’t be more grateful for your support throughout our lives.

To the graduates – it is incredible to think how far we have come. Let’s take a minute to reflect. To the International MBAs – in two or three years we learned another language, completed the core business curriculum, specialized, and earned additional certifications. To the One-Year MBAs – how amazing that you completed all of your business curriculum and certifications in less than a year! At the same time, all of us were maintaining on our relationships and our homes, making new friends, getting involved on campus, going to football and basketball games, and staying in touch with loved ones. Some of us welcomed new life into the world, some of us have said goodbye to loved ones, but all of us have prepared for an incredible life ahead of us. We have had our fair share of challenges, but we have also had some of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. I can say that the Moore community, especially all of you, are what made my experience possible. As I mentioned at our welcome mixer, we have created a lifelong network and community. I hope that we all take what we have learned and soar in our careers throughout the world. I also hope that we never forget our roots at the Moore School and come back to visit.

Let’s toast to the graduating class of 2017 – I couldn’t be more proud to be standing next to all of you! Thank you!”

Reflecting upon graduation, it was one of the most hectic, but also exciting few days of my IMBA experience. I was very grateful for my mom, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s family who attended my ceremony and festivities. I was also grateful to attend my boyfriend’s graduation ceremony from law school, which was an incredible experience because we both graduated at the Horseshoe, one of the University of South Carolina’s idyllic locations. One day I was the graduate and the next day I was the attendee, which made my experience feel full circle. The University of South Carolina business and law schools treated us graduates and our families like gold, with delicious Southern food, cocktails, and live performers (I’ll never forget the steel drummers after my graduation!). I am so happy that I experienced graduation, but I am also glad that I can now move on and relax (or more so travel and visit family) this summer.

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I hope you all have an inspirNational weekend (and holiday weekend for those in the United States)! Off to Seattle for my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding and to visit my best friend from preschool – I can only imagine what stories I will have to share with you over the next couple of weeks!

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Creating Control & Optimism Out of Chaos & Pessimism

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With all of the acts of terrorism, violence, and corrupt politics, I know I can speak for many when I say that I have started to feel hopeless and paralyzed about how to respond to the world. I have spent much time pausing and reflecting on how to best react to and address the events we have recently faced throughout the world. While we can’t control what happens in the world or the cruel acts of others, we should not feel hopeless. There is good in the world, even if it is necessary to dust off the cobwebs. During challenging times, we can remind ourselves that there are aspects of our lives we can control to stay positive.

What can we control?

Our attitude. Seeing the glass half full or half empty is completely in our hands. We can comment on all the negativity around us, or we can encourage ourselves to crawl through the weeds of negativity to find all the things that make us feel warm inside. No matter how terrible the world may feel, there are still aspects that brighten our days, such as sunrise and sunsets, a hug from a loved one, an ice cream sundae, or planning a vacation. As my grandma always told me: “always have something to look forward to” which will help keep your attitude in check.

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Source: blog.mindjet.com

How often we watch the news. Over the past couple of months, I have found myself watching the news more often. While it is important to be an informed citizen, I need to constantly remind myself that the media is providing one perspective of the world, one that needs to tell a story and sell commercials. An interesting point I heard recently is that the world is not necessarily worse than in the past, we just have faster access to information with social media spreading the word instantly at our fingertips. If we think back to the early 20th century when only newspapers and radio were available, people would learn updates much less frequently than we do now. We can watch the news and follow social media, but should control the frequency to not dwell on negative events.

Who we vote for. With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions happening in the United States over the past two weeks, we can’t help but think about the future of the United States. I am taking a holistic approach to voting this election, considering not only special interests related to me, but also to my family, my employer, my  community, the United States as a whole, and the entire world. I have invested more time and energy into this political season than ever before, not only because I am more aware and interested, but also thanks to my law student boyfriend who often challenges my political views and loves to debate with me. With a broad perspective of the impacts of our president, we may change our voting decisions. We should also not only focus on the president, but also the local elections that will have a more prominent effect on our daily lives.

Our daily habits: eat, sleep, and exercise. When life feels out of control, it is easy to eat too much or forget to eat, to not sleep enough, and to forego exercise routines. Out of control circumstances and stress are very taxing on our bodies, meaning that good food, sleep, and exercise are even more critical during stressful times. As my life gets busier and stress increases, I am emphasizing now more than ever that my health needs to come first for my own longevity. Establishing these daily habits in my 20s will be critical as they will likely be the same habits I will have as I move through the older decades of life.

Our hobbies. Spend your free time doing what you love! Or better yet, do what you love as your job. Hobbies bring joy to ourselves, enable us to meet new friends, and spark the same passion and creativity that we experienced at recess in elementary school. No matter how bad our days are, we can always resort to our hobbies to remind us to have a zest for life.

Our kindness to others. One of my favorite quotes is to always be friendly to others because you never know what they are going through. Kindness is especially important in challenging times, as it unites us and reminds of the human spirit that keeps us moving forward. Smile at those you pass on the street, hold the doors for people behind you, treat your friends and loved ones to lunch, and donate to charity. A small token of kindness can go a long with in brightening the world around us.

Our work ethic. Work hard, seek opportunities, achieve goals, and see results. One of the most rewarding feelings for many people, including me, is success in my career. It goes back to Kindergarden when I loved to receive a star sticker on my test or a smile from my teacher. Now I am grateful for recognition for hard work and empowerment to follow my dreams. Careers can provide us with a consistent and clear path, including promotions for jobs well done, which may help us feel stable when other circumstances are unstable.

Our involvement in the community. Giving back to others is one of the best ways to remind ourselves and others that there is good in the world. Volunteering is one of most joyful life experiences, allowing us to contribute to causes related to our passions, and meeting people along the way. I have had wonderful opportunities to volunteer at A Child’s Haven and through United Way in Greenville, SC this summer. I am reminded to always give back to the community I call home to brighten the lives of others and my own life along the way.

I hope these suggestions help remind us to find areas we can control in our lives to ensure we feel optimistic. I’ll conclude with a strong reminder for everyone: Good Will Prevail!

United by the Circle of Life

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After traveling across three continents and studying intensively in three countries, I am realizing that while it is easy to focus on differences between cultures, it is even more interesting to focus on similarities.

Religion, culture, language, and customs may divide us, but we are all connected by the core purposes of life: milestones, values, relationships, careers, memories of the past and hopes for the future. I am going to combines these core purposes of life and describe them as the circle of life. We are all united by the circle of life.

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Source: http://www.canstockphoto.com

I have been reminded of this unity recently while living with my host family in Paris. Almost every evening, we enjoy dinner together and have interesting conversations about life

The Joys of Being a New GrandparentOn Friday, my host family welcomed their first grandson into the world. My host mom discussed how excited she was to share in the “new grandparent” experience with her husband. She described that when women deliver their own baby, mothers and fathers cannot relate. The mother already knows the baby after nine months of carrying it. The dad meets the baby right when it is born. However, grandparents can share in the experience of just meeting the baby because it is new to both of them. This is an exciting time for my host family, which is relevant to any family throughout the world with new grandchildren.

Celebrating 33 Years of MarriageI had a dinner with my host dad one night and discussed the secrets of a lifelong marriage. He and his wife celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary in December, beating the odds of only a 51% marriage success rate in France (very similar odds in the United States as well). He said, first of all, there are no secrets. You have to make your marriage work in your own way. He also described that communication is the most important part of a successful relationship- catching up on each other’s days, discussing successes and failures, and overcoming conflicts. He said he follows his dad’s advice to never go to bed angry. With the challenges of marriage throughout the world, I was intrigued to learn insights about successful marriage in France.

The Purpose of Strikes: Last week, Paris experienced another strike with taxis blocking the streets and requesting higher wages. I learned from my host family how common strikes are in Paris and how they are always related to money. My host family was frustrated with the strike’s disruption to the city and the corruption of Paris’ tax and immigration policies. While our conversation remained politically neutral, it was interesting for me to learn that debates related to social change, taxes, and immigration are present no matter where we live or travel. We are united by our societal challenges, and diverse in our responses and reactions to these challenges.

Stop Striving for Perfection: One of the most insightful life conversations we had was how people are striving for perfection in their careers and relationships. My host family emphasized that perfection is not realistic. There is no perfect job or perfect spouse. People are “job hopping” more now than ever before, assuming that the “grass will be greener on the other side.” In reality, there are no greener pastures, just greener perspectives of the situations we face. In the past, my host family said that they were just grateful to have a job and a steady wage. If they didn’t enjoy their job, they would focus their energy outside of work rather than letting their job consume them. My host family also described that people are also getting divorced too soon, giving up before giving it their all. Now people are expecting so much more and rarely feeling satisfied. I can attest to these sentiments from my own experience and that of my friends, especially those of us in our 20s. The post-college decade is full of uncertainty, change, and striving for the perfect life rather than focusing on the good in today. I posed a question to my host parents, asking how they think we can all stop striving for perfection. They said they didn’t know, but knew it was possible. My proposition is to first stop comparing our lives to others (which is easier today with access to friends and family’s life updates on social media). After, we should create our lives as we see fit, combining our upbringing with what we learn as we live and travel throughout the world.

Each of these circle of life conversations sparks thoughtful insights that we can learn no matter where we are in the world. What life conversations have you had during your travels?

With Tragedy Comes Hope

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To all inspirNational readers directly affected by the Paris tragedy and other worldwide tragedies over the past week, I am sending you my condolences, thoughts, and prayers. The recent events in Paris have left me feeling a whirlwind of emotions, from grief for the Parisians, anger towards terrorism, and fear as I am about to live and study in Paris. Combining all of these feelings and insights I have read and heard on the news and from loved ones, I am comforted with a sense of hope. I wanted to share some of the powerful thoughts with you that I have seen over the past few days.

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1. Good will prevail.

“In times like this, it’s important to remind ourselves that despite the alarming frequency of these terrible events, violence is actually at an all-time low in history and continues to decline.

Deaths from war are lower than ever, murder rates are generally dropping around the world, and — although it’s hard to believe — even terrorist attacks are declining.

Please don’t let a small minority of extremists make you pessimistic about our future.

Every member of our community spreads empathy and understanding on a daily basis. We are all connecting the world together. And if we all do our part, then one day there may no longer be attacks like this.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

2. Let your faith be stronger than your fear. Fear is what fuels evil in the world, and we must not let our fears conquer our thoughts. With strong faith we can overcome anything.

3. Our youth serves as a powerful source of change. We can teach them peace and hope as they form their values, world beliefs, and dreams for the future.

May all of these thoughts remind us that with tragedy comes hope!