Celebrating heritage, adhering to high ethical standards and overcoming all obstacles were among the many career recommendations shared with students by keynote speaker Jose Antonio Tijerino during commencement exercises on December 18, 2019, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
“Fearless isn’t just a tagline, it’s a philosophy,” Tijerino told graduates. “By going through adversity, it means you’ve built grit and have a comfort level in adjusting and creating pathways to success in the worst of circumstances.”
Delivering his remarks to roughly 600 Maryland Smith graduates, Tijerino stressed the importance of reflecting on the various hardships a student experiences during their academic career. He also encouraged students to share this moment with those who helped them persevere through their obstacles. There are a lot of others who can greatly benefit from your attention, guidance and belief in them, he said.
“Just like you have benefitted from many of your supporters here, any time you can help someone you are in a position of privilege,” Tijerino said. “As a Smith School graduate, you are in an even greater position to serve.”
Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, as well as a proud immigrant from Nicaragua and graduate of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill School of Journalism, urged students to embrace their unique backgrounds and let their values guide them through difficult times.
“Don’t compromise your values. All of you will be in rooms with great influence and you may be the only one like you in that room,” he said. “Always remember what and who you represent. Chances are you will need to represent those that aren’t in that room.”
Tijerino also conveyed how companies are aware of their impact on society and the environment, which creates an opportunity for Smith grads to hold them accountable and provide guidance beyond the strategy, finance, marketing and operations they learned in the classroom, he said. “We’re counting on all of you to define another bottom line to these businesses,” Tijerino said.
In terms of the future corporate landscape, Tijerino made it clear to students that they are in an advantageous position to promote social good and remain relevant to later generations. “Your influence can be felt,” Tijerino said. “You have a say in making sure these companies’ moral compasses are pointed in the right direction.”