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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

Student Highlight: Meet Student Commencement Speaker, Minh Le

Our students make up the very heart of the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and each carries with them a story of inspiration, hard work, and unwavering commitment to purpose-driven leadership. It is in this spirit that we selected Minh Le as our student speaker during the summer 2019 commencement ceremony. 

Minh grew up in a single-parent household—where her mom held the role of breadwinner, caretaker, and a true example of perseverance that would continue to inspire Minh throughout her professional and personal life. Being witness to her mother’s hardships and determination, Minh understood the true meaning of strength and has overcome every obstacle that has been thrown her way. 

Minh graduated from the University of California Davis with a degree in Chemistry in 2015. She was soon hired as a chemist at Pharmavite, LLC and continued to grow and develop her professional attributes in this role. After experiencing many inadequate managers throughout her career, Minh decided to pursue an MBA at Pepperdine Graziadio in 2017. Initially, she only chose Pepperdine since it was within close proximity to her work, but soon realized it was so much more. 

Minh graduated the Graziadio Business School with honors, receiving a Spotlight on Excellence Award and promotion to senior chemist at Pharmavite, LLC while she was completing her MBA. Recently, Minh shared her insights on her Pepperdine experience and how Graziadio made an impact on her career.

Interview with Minh Le

Why did you choose Pepperdine Graziadio for your MBA degree?

"After I graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Forensics Chemistry, I decided to work for a couple of years to have some real-life experience, then I would go back to school to earn a PhD in Chemistry. However, after working for a year and observing different types of leaders at work, I decided to pursue my MBA with a mindset that I want to be a great leader in the future who will be able to make changes, inspire people to do better, make a great impact at work, and help the company grow exponentially.

The reason I chose Pepperdine Graziadio for my MBA degree among others simply was that Pepperdine allowed me to do school and work at the same time. In fact, having the responsibility of being the head of the household, I could not quit my job and go back to school full-time for two years. In addition, Pepperdine provided several different location options so that I would not worry about being stuck in traffic for over two hours driving to Malibu after work."

How has your Pepperdine MBA program impacted your career so far? 

"It motivates me to develop my courage and skills to apply at work. I’m now part of discussions; I’m no longer scared of raising my hand and pitching my ideas; I have become more confident and active in meetings and group settings. Additionally, this program has helped me adapt to different changes in the company and enhanced my ability to pivot my career path in a direction that will enable my continued professional development."

What did you enjoy most about your experience at Pepperdine Graziadio? 

"The very first thing that I liked about Graziadio Business School is its small class sizes. In fact, in a small class, it’s hard for us to hide and feel left behind because everyone gets the full attention we need from our professors. We also feel motivated to take part in discussions and pitch our ideas. In addition, small class sizes not only enhances our learning and strengthens our confidence, but also helps us develop our connection with the professors and other students.

I was pleased with how supportive the faculty, professors, and staff are in order to help us achieve our success. We all have different backgrounds and real-life experiences; however, every student was treated equally and given the chance to learn and develop skills in every class. I also like the diversity since I could learn a lot from others, not only from the people who have experience, but also learning from the people who have less experience. Indeed, ‘in learning, we’ll teach, and in teaching, we’ll learn'."

What advice do you have for new students starting their MBA? 

"For all the students deciding to pursue their MBA at Pepperdine Graziadio, it is my first hope you decide to achieve an MBA because you want to learn and grow to be good leaders who create a positive impact; not because you desire a higher income in the future. Secondly, I would suggest you have these three things with you throughout your MBA journey:

  • Passion: Please have a passion for what you do, because you won’t go far if you don’t love what you do. In fact, the journey of achieving an MBA degree is not an easy journey, but as long as you are passionate and do not give up, you will make it.
  • Courage: Leadership requires courage; hence, try to develop your courage by taking advantage of the times you are in class to raise your hand, participate, be part of discussions, pitch your ideas, ask questions, and more importantly, to open to another’s point of view and accept their conviction if it’s better than yours.
  • Kindness: The MBA degree requires lots of teamwork, hence if you are not treating others with kindness, it will be hard for you to achieve the best in your classes. In addition, find opportunities to help other students, because you will strengthen your knowledge when you teach others."

How have other Graziadio staff, faculty, professors and/or alumni helped you to achieve your goals?

"At Pepperdine Graziadio, all the staff, faculty, professors and alumni are very helpful and incredibly accessible in helping the students achieve their goals. To all the professors who have taught me at Pepperdine, deep down I truly want you to know how much love and appreciation I have for all of you.  It is not only for the professors whose classes I enjoyed but also for the ones who challenged and helped me become a better student.

While I have a handful of professors at Pepperdine Graziadio that I will never forget, Dr. Gertmenian (aka. Dr. G), Dr. Murphy, and Professor Buckingham stood out to be the ones that not only helped me learn, but also made me a better person.

Professor Buckingham is awesome, and I am sure that every single student who took his class would agree. He teaches students in his own way, and it helps everyone to think out of the box. He also helps students improve presentation skills and shows how to transform nervous energy into enthusiasm. Professor Buckingham is my biggest inspiration and the one that I will always look up to.

For Dr. G, it has been a real honor for me to be one of his Teaching Assistants. Every single weekend that I spent time at his office, there were always things for me to learn from his real-life stories. Honestly, to me, Dr. G is ‘ridiculous’ in so many ways. He is ridiculously sweet, ridiculously knowledgeable, ridiculously amazing, and most importantly, he ridiculously cares about students. Additionally, he is also one of the few people on earth who knows how to bring out my smile. 

Last but not least, Dr. Murphy is one that will always hold a special place in my heart. From the moment when I walked into the classroom and saw Dr. Murphy on the first day of my strategy class, I instantly got the feeling that this would be the best class throughout this journey. Indeed, from this class, I have not only learned a lot, but also have embraced a strong belief that as long as I do not give up, I will be able to make impossible things possible. I will never forget the moment when I was getting ready to go on stage to give the speech at the commencement ceremony. Dr. Murphy was always there for me, gave me his full attention, and calmed me down with his amazing support. Truthfully, I would not have done the speech smoothly and confidently without him."

What is something you learned at Pepperdine that impacted you the most? 

"There are so many valuable things I have learned at Pepperdine; however, if I must pick one thing, I would say courage.

Fear is a barrier that won’t allow you to move forward, to grow, and to improve your life. Unfortunately, most of the time we tend to let our fears control our decisions and levels of happiness. However, throughout this journey, I have been assisted to overcome my fears and stand up with courage. I believe this value will keep me standing strong in every life battle and help me move forward to achieve better things.

At this point in life, I just want to say that choosing Pepperdine University is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Thank you, Pepperdine Graziadio, for everything."


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