To the Graduating Class of 2024

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Ellen Ensher graduation gown and medals

Dear 2024 Seniors, 

Congratulations on your soon-to-be graduation! I am so incredibly proud of you for earning your Management and Leadership degree in the College of Business at LMU.  As a class you hold a very special place in my heart. I love all my graduates but you – the “Pandemic students”- well you are just truly unforgettable. I felt compelled to take a trip down Pandemic memory lane and reflect on just why the class of 2024 is so incredibly special.  

First, think back… before LMU. Remember the grind from high school? You studied hard and sweated the scores for your SAT’s, ACT’s and AP classes. You felt the pressure to shine in music, sports, extracurriculars and anything else that showed colleges that you were “unique and different” and also a “fit” for campus life. You received college acceptances and felt the joy of being accepted at LMU (not to mention other great universities!). But then, in March of 2020 high school shut down and you had to attend class online. But that was all okay because you had just been accepted to college(s) and freedom beckoned around the corner! Freshman year in college was supposed to be your big moment where you were rewarded for your years of grinding.  

Freshman year (2020-2021)

You chose to attend class online with no end in sight, all while paying a great deal of money, for your “professor in a box” learning. Many of you struggled with mental health, boredom, disappointment, and felt trapped in your child-hood bedrooms. I know you love your family, but enough already! As a “professor in a box” I can tell you that most of us empathized and worked very hard to make classes as good at they could be. Often, you were lonely. Together, we were learning. As professors, we were learning how to teach online.  In the fall of 2020, we launched the revamp of our Management and Leadership major with new curriculum, a vision, and a whole new way of teaching. You were learning right from us and with us.  Class of 2024,- I thank you for your patience, humor, and profound humanity while we shared the global grand experiment in education. And I am profoundly grateful to every single LMU alum who answered the call to zoom in to class to share their experience, contacts, and just make us feel connected and cared for.  

Sophomore year (2021-2022)

You were allowed back on campus! Hurray! Except, we all had to wear masks and they were times due to a Covid surge we immediately had to go back online. So, we never really knew what was happening from week-to-week. Uncertainty was our constant companion. Wearing masks was hard as it was hard to hear, talk and just show up. Participating in class was a herculean effort. As your professor, I often took you outside and we sat on the grass, six feet apart, and looked into each other’s faces and felt a teesny bit better. I took blankets to and from home and washed them after every class, brough hand sanitizer, extra masks, and paper handouts so you did not have to balance your laptops on your knees. I never had to ask for help carrying anything as you always volunteered to lug our stuff back and forth from our assigned indoor classroom to our ad hoc outdoor classroom. As a Management and Leadership major, this was the year you took the first course in the major which was Managing Yourself. I asked you to create a comprehensive career action plan for five years after graduation. It seemed impossible as we did not even know if we ever be free of the Corona Virus, and how can we plan? But you did the work and you dared to hope …so I did too.  

Junior year (2022-2034)

Some of you were here all along and some of you just joined us as transfer students. Masks were off! Most of us were healthy – not unscathed, but healthy. The vibe should have been “normal” now, but it wasn’t quite normal yet. As your professor I started to see you emerge from the cocoons- more conversations before class, more looking up from devices and even some couples holding hands on campus. More of you came to events, office hours, and opened up. As Management and Leadership majors, you took your course in “Managing Others” and made friends (and some enemies!) as you worked in teams, gave and received feedback, and analyzed cases. You felt incredibly exhilarated by all of the possibilities and also exhausted (as professors, us too!) By spring you were starting to feel at home on campus and this was the semester where it felt the world went from a black and white movie to full-fledged color.  

Senior year (2023-2024)

Where the hell did the time go?! Now you are the class that freshman and transfer students look up to and it is almost time to graduate. For our Management and Leadership seniors this is year we debuted our Local-Global Capstone immersion trip. We focused on food justice and traveled with 12 seniors to Costa Rica for Spring Break. For Dr. McGrath and I this was the trip brought to fruition all that we had planned for our Major way back in 2020. Full circle moment. Teaching many of you for the second and sometimes third time was a joy. Seeing you develop, laughing with you, teaching you, and learning from you was a great privilege.  

We know that your 2024 LMU graduation will be your very first live, in-person, full-fledged and perhaps only graduation. This will be the moment that marks your accomplishment of making it through the CRAZIEST four years of college that any of us have ever seen. We hope that feel so much love from your fellow students, your friends, family, and of course us, your faculty.  

Once a Lion, always a Lion so when you walk off the stage, you can always come back in-person to say hello, get some advice and chocolate, and/or zoom into a future class to share your experiences. When those future Lions message you for an informational interview, you can smile to yourself and remember that was once you! Remember my office hours are open to you for life.  I am not saying goodbye as you graduate but rather saying Godspeed.  

I know I speak for all of us Management faculty when I say We are SO proud of you Class of 2024! 

Warm regards,

Ellen Ensher, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Management