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Reflections on "100 Days until Graduation"

Feb 12, 2018
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Smith student Philip Peker ’18 writes about the "100 Days Until Graduation" celebration for graduating seniors on Feb. 8, 2018, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Exactly a year from today, I was reporting for my first time on the “100 Days” graduation celebration for Smith Seniors. I remember walking around the room, basking in the energy and ebullience of proud business students and faculty.

This time around, I was not only the journalist, but a participant, and I can tell you first hand that this celebration is as memorable and joyful as it is nostalgic and complex. Countdowns, whether it's for the New Year's Eve ball drop or for a race, are a moment of contemplation. They’re a rare wrinkle in time. We so often live our lives thinking about the future, or reminiscing about the past, but never appreciating the present. And so, if someone asked me, what is the “100 Days” celebration all about, I would say it’s about reflection and gratitude. Realizing how far you have come, how much further you are about to go, but most importantly, being thankful for the opportunities you’ve had and will have.

Mary Wagner, director of recent alumni engagement in Smith's Office of Alumni Relations and coordinator of the event, has much to reflect on, as well. She's seen how powerful this event is, year in, year out. “The event is a chance for us to say that while students may be graduating and leaving College Park, their journey with the Smith School of Business is not over, rather the journey is changing,” she said. One of the main focuses of the event is catalyzing this transition from student to alumni.

As I was splitting my time equally between celebrating with my fellow seniors and running back to the feast table to help myself to my fourth plate of delectables, I overheard many insightful remarks from my fellow students.

“Only make time for the things you want to do. But make sure you figure out what you want to do as early as possible,” says senior Natalie Urban, who has pursued her passions for technology, business and innovation by being the executive director of Startup Shell, sponsorship director of Technica (An All-Ladies Hackathon), and leader in the QUEST Honors Program at Smith.

Senior Lina Bauer shared Natalie’s sentiments. “As a business student, we often find ourselves defaulting to clubs and activities in the business school. To become truly well-rounded and multidisciplinary professionals, its good to think beyond the business school. Pick up a language while abroad, get into the arts scene here, take on another major. All of this can make you a more valuable, successful and rare at the end of the day.”

Smith is an incredible home-base for learning. From the subjects to the faculty to the extracurricular resources and networking opportunities, Smith is truly a land of opportunity. But when Smith students leave the business school, the learning should not stop. The Office of Alumni Relations together with the Smith School of Business work tirelessly to build the two-way street between current students and alumni. The stronger the bridge, the better the exchange of knowledge and experience.

While sipping on the wonderful white wine provided by the event, I was also indulging in a moment of peaceful reverence. Seeing all my friends, colleagues, professors, and faculty members that have supported and guided me throughout my years all here together made me appreciate Smith from a totally different level. I’ve never been a huge fan of clichés, but if you do it right, Smith will become a family to you, as it has to me.

For more information about the Undergraduate Business Program at Smith, visit: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.