USD School of Business Bands Together to Honor Graduates

Thursday, May 21, 2020 post has videoTOPICS: Alumni

This spring’s graduating class of 2020 won’t have a traditional graduation ceremony until fall but University of San Diego School of Business students received an uplifting musical tribute this week. 

Showcasing their inner rock star, eight professors, advisors and staff members recorded themselves playing the song “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco while others danced and offered congratulations in the surprise video message that was sent to more than 700 students receiving bachelor’s and graduate business degrees this spring during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mama said
Fulfill the prophecy
Be something greater
Go make a legacy
Manifest destiny
Back in the days
We wanted everything, wanted everything

 “We hope students enjoyed seeing some of the faculty and staff members outside of their typical USD roles,” said Finance Professor Williams Beggs who played piano, keyboard and guitar in the video, and served as the band’s “virtual conductor” ensuring all of the instruments were being played to the same tempo.

For Professor Beggs, this was an opportunity to relive his days as a piano player in a cover band and help the USD School of Business band create an epic track.  “The song “High Hopes” was chosen to be “an inspirational track in light of all the challenges that our graduates have endured this semester,” he added.

Despite being forced to suddenly leave campus and finish their degrees through remote learning, “you wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Economics Professor Steven Sumner told graduates in the video message.

“You’ve shown tremendous courage, resilience and grit,” added Marketing Professor Aarti Ivanic.

Standing in front of 2020 balloons, both Business Law Professors Craig and Linda Barkacs also celebrated the class.

“The world will recognize you, the class of 2020, as the class that faced challenges and turned them into opportunities,” said Craig. “As C.S. Lewis said, ‘hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny,’” Linda added.

Graduates who received the message were thrilled.

“It was such a nice surprise to open up the email and see some of my favorite School of Business professors and faculty coming together to celebrate the Class of 2020,” said accounting undergraduate Emma McEvoy. “Although we can’t all be together during this time, it really brightened up my day and got me in the spirit of graduation.”

“Seeing the video gave me a sense of hope and gratitude for everything I have accomplished so far!” added marketing and communications major Fayth Fowler.

New MBA graduate Amanda Haines had a humorous take on seeing her Professors Craig and Linda Barkacs cut loose. “Your and Linda’s dancing GIF is better than any commencement speech we could have gotten! Thank you for making us smile.”

Students also reflected on the value of their education. “USD is more than a place of academic growth, it is a place of relationships that make all the growth and hard work worthwhile,” said business administration major Nicholas Becerra. “USD is a great school but it is the people that work here like Merrick Marino and Professor Beggs that make it a family.”

The entire school, including the Ahlers Center for International Business, Graduate Business Programs, the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate, the departments of supply chain, marketing… and others, came together to create something special for the graduates as part of the school’s efforts to remind students of the caring community they are a part of at USD and to keep connected even through self-isolation.

“The moment the opportunity arose I was in!” said Supply Chain Professor Simon Croom who was charged with keeping the song’s harmony by serving as bass player. “I was so energized by this song – I’m by no means a competent bassist and it was a fairly challenging song but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to honor all of our graduates.”

While Zoom doesn’t make for ideal practice conditions, undergraduate advising director and drummer Merrick Marino was happy with the final result, “I am just so impressed with the talent we have in the USD School of Business,” he said.

While the university community has been physically apart, it has been challenging “to find ways to uplift students and do things that make them feel valued and appreciated. This USD School of Business band ended up having the great side effect of uplifting our spirits as well by coming together and doing something special that will hopefully bring joy and a smile to the faces of every graduating business student.”

Along with William Beggs, Merrick Marino and Simon Croom, members of the USD School of Business Band included Bonnie Neptune, Haleigh Stewart and Dara Mead on vocals; Kevin Garrie on flute and Diana Hannasch-Haag on clarinet.

— Liz Harman


Lissette Martinez
(619) 260-4659