University News

Business Leader and Advocate Tells Class of 2022: 'No Problem We Face is Beyond Our Collective Capacity'

Shelley Stewart, III, a senior partner at the prestigious consulting firm McKinsey & Company, offered advice to graduates of the University's Lee College and Pompea College of Business, telling them they have the potential to make a meaningful impact on the world.

May 19, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Graduates celebrate
Graduates celebrate at Spring Commencement.

For Christopher Matkowski '22, the fond memories he has of his time as a Charger include the close friendships he formed as well as his involvement in myriad organizations. An active member of the University community, he developed important skills such as leadership, resilience, and networking that, he says, have prepared him for success.

A member of the University's Honors program, Matkowski conducted research as part of his thesis on Russian involvement in the Arctic and its impact on the United States and its allies. An ROTC cadet, Matkowski served as president of the men's club soccer team and as Model United Nations (MUN) president – an opportunity that he believes was particularly impactful.

"All these organizations presented me with new challenges and provided me with leadership opportunities that, before coming to the University, I never thought I'd have," said Matkowski, a national security major who pursued minors in Russian language-area studies and political science. "In MUN, Dr. Chris Haynes follows a mantra of 'be open to change.' This truly helps all MUN students become some of the most effective leaders in the classroom and the most talented job candidates."

Matkowski accepted his bachelor's degree as part of the University's Spring Commencement. He was among more than 1,300 graduates who were recognized as part of two ceremonies. Matkowski was among the graduates of the University's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences who were recognized as part of the afternoon ceremony, along with graduates of the Pompea College of Business.

'A growth mindset'

Jalynn Finnie '22 graduated with her bachelor's degree in finance. A member of the Chargers volleyball team and the Pompea College of Business Dean's Student Advisory Board, Finnie studied at the University's campus in Prato, Italy, earlier this semester – an experience she says she will remember for the rest of her life.

Finnie, who completed an internship with Factset last summer, has now accepted a full-time position as a client solutions consultant with the global financial data and technology company, with which the University has an affiliation. She will be based at the company's office in Austin, Texas.

"My time at the University of New Haven has prepared me for the real world by helping me to have good time management skills," she said. "It has also given me endless networking opportunities. Being able to balance being a student-athlete while at the University has also given me a growth mindset that I will bring with me into the financial field."

'Be the change you seek'
Shelley Stewart, III
Shelley Stewart, III was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree.

Shelley Stewart, III, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, long recognized as the most prestigious consulting firm in the world, received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree. A leader in the firm's global marketing and sales practice, he also leads the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, a think-and-do-tank focused on catalyzing solutions to improving economic outcomes for Black individuals and families.

In his keynote address, Stewart, a board member of the national Black MBA Association who has been named a Notable Black Leader by Crain's New York Business, discussed the opportunities the Class of 2022 will have to make an impact and offered his advice.

"We currently face so many difficult and seemingly intractable challenges," said Stewart. "But no problem we face is beyond our collective capacity. In your hands, much more than in your parents' hands – or even mine – rests the final verdict.

"Be the change you seek," he continued. "Resist the dogma and slogans of the prior generations. Set an impossibly high aspiration to leave the world significantly better off for the next generation, and pursue it with all deliberate speed."

'Show the generations to come that you are change for the better'

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal '00 Hon. also offered his congratulations and encouragement to the graduates, calling the University "a powerful educational force on a national scale. You have a lot to be proud of in graduating today."

Christopher Raso '22
Christopher Raso ’22 speaks to members of the Class of 2022.

Christopher Raso '22, who earned a bachelor's degree in homeland security and emergency management, spoke on behalf of the undergraduate student body, challenging his fellow graduates to consider their responsibility and to "stand together as a force for change.

"Don't stop for anything, except to help the person alongside you to stand up and come along for the ride," he continued. "Show the world that it is not what generation you are born into that matters. Rather, show the generations to come that you are change for the better."

'The real-world impact I can have in my career'

Martina Ibrahim '21, '22 M.S. encouraged her fellow graduates to celebrate their accomplishments, noting the odds and obstacles they overcame to earn their degrees. Speaking on behalf of the graduate student body, she urged the Class of 2022 to acknowledge their failures and to cultivate a growth mindset by celebrating the process and effort they are putting forth in their journeys.

Martina Ibrahim '21, '22 M.S.
Martina Ibrahim '21, ’22 M.S. spoke on behalf of the graduate student body.

"It is not by chance or luck that you are here today," said Ibrahim, who earned her master's degree in national security. "It is your hard work, discipline, integrity, successes, and failures that helped you accomplish this achievement. So, do not take it lightly when someone congratulates you on this well-deserved award."

Matkowski, the new national security graduate, will be serving as an officer in the U.S. Army after graduation. He also plans to pursue his master's degree in the Washington, D.C., area.

"My experience at the University has significantly increased my knowledge base," he said. "As one of Dr. Andy Morgan's students, he has emphasized the real-world impact I can have in my career. He consistently gave me invaluable life lessons and job experience that I will take full advantage of. I am very excited to see where my education and military career take me."

Spring Graduates
Graduates of the University’s Lee College and Pompea College of Business.