June 16, 2020

Smith Grad Encourages Students to Beat the Odds in Graduation Remarks

Jeffanie Rantung-Kramar, ’20, says blackjack taught her a great deal about overcoming adversity.

Rantung-Kramar recently delivered the graduation keynote for the 2020 CollegeTracks virtual commencement. CollegeTracks is a youth advocacy program in Montgomery County, MD., that seeks to help first-generation college students manage the challenges of higher education.

A CollegeTracks alum herself, Rantung-Kramar employed the popular card game as a metaphor for not letting circumstances dictate the outcome of her life. Each player is dealt a random set of cards, she said, and those are the cards you have to play.

“It’s much like in the real world — where the dealer represents the system and you’re rarely dealt a perfect hand,” said Rantung-Kramar. “What’s more important is how you play the hand you’re given. My immigration status and family’s financial background was not a good hand. I had every excuse to quit and not even bother trying.”

Now, as a business analyst for Freddie Mac and winner of a recent company-wide, shark-tank-style business case competition, Rantung-Kramar told graduates that this milestone signifies how they have defied expectations and that they must continue making the most of every opportunity. 

“You’re already more resilient than many of those who are dealt ‘better hands,’” said Rantung-Kramar. “What you decide to do with what you have, that’s what makes grit and that’s what you need to keep beating the odds.”

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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 flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business 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.

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