Salem grads told to bet on themselves

Erika James, Dean of Goizueta Business School at Emory University

Salem grads told to bet on themselves
May 26
10:45 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



Erika James, Dean of Goizueta Business School at Emory University, told the Salem College Class of 2016 last Saturday morning to always bet on themselves.

As she stood before the 220 graduates, James, the first woman to lead a top 25 business school, said, “Choose wisely and always bet on yourself.”

“You should dream big and follow your passions,” she said. “If you’re not happy with your life, you have the power to change it.”

Prior to joining Emory in 2014, James served as the Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education at the Darden Graduate School of Business. She also served as an assistant professor at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and a visiting professor at Harvard Business School. Her academic career includes involvement in diversity initiatives and membership on multiple university councils and committees.

During her 15-minute dissertation-style speech entitled “Choose Wisely,” James told the students that every experience they encounter after graduation will be further preparation for the future. She also told the graduates to choose friends and peers.

“Every decision you make and every action you take is designing the life you deserve,” she continued. “So choose wisely, for tomorrow is only as good as you make it today.”

City native Brittany Smith is one of those students who is preparing for tomorrow today. While working toward her master’s of arts in teaching degree, Smith also worked as a teacher at Southwest Elementary School. Smith said she will continue to teach until she finds something else.

Smith said what she will cherish most about her time spent at Salem is the family atmosphere.

“Everybody here is really friendly and the professors are always willing to help,” she said. “That family atmosphere is something you can’t get anywhere else.”

Education major from Lexington Danielle Beck said she plans to use her degree to become a teacher as well. Beck said she always dreamed of becoming a teacher and walking across the stage is something she has worked long and hard for.

“Today marks the end of a long journey,” Beck said with a smile.

“It was hard at times, but it was well worth it. I am proud to say I am officially a graduate of Salem College.”

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