An Admirable MBA Student

December 8, 2010

I’ve had the privilege of teaching MBA students since 1999. I’ve met both exceptional and abhorrent people over the years. One that I admire as much as anyone I’ve ever met graduated last weekend.

This woman is a single, working mother of a young child with special needs. During the two years I’ve known her, I’ve watched her juggle the demands of her job, child, and coursework with professionalism and grace. I’ve listened to her describe her demands in a matter-of-fact way, but never once heard her complain. She was always positive, always in search of solutions instead of excuses or pity. On top of everything else, she confronted personal health issues and also lost her job. Her response to losing her job was to start her own business.

She had plenty of very legitimate reasons to quit, but she determined to persevere instead.

I think that’s pretty impressive.

If you read this, you’ll know I’m talking about you. I want you to know that in addition to earning your MBA, you also earned my admiration and respect. People like you make the work I do very worthwhile. Thank you.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Bret, I think I know the individual you speak of and I can tell you that there is no higher honor for a MBA student than what you have written here. The work you do makes people want to work harder, especially when they have a role model such as yourself! Thanks for the post. ~Christine

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I think you might know that person too, Christine 🙂 Thanks for the kind words! Bret

  2. ANSHUL GUPTA says:

    That’s really impressive & would act as a source of inspirations for many others, specially women.


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I agree, Anshul. Thanks! Bret

  3. Elizabeth Rickert says:


    Having long been a single mom myself, I would love to encourage that woman and tell her that her actions, which have inspired her MBA professor and fellow students, have changed the course of history for her and her family. I would like to tell her:

    Keep reflecting light and hope into the life of your child. To do that, keep close to sources of light yourself. Allow people you trust to bless you, so that you do not allow darkness to overcome you.

    Don’t be shy about seeking supportive relationships. Build a network of fervent friends who share your values, then commit to keep each other on the path. You are worth haveing as a friend. Your value comes from you being you.

    And, take notes! I think you will encounter other women in the future who will need the gritty kind of encouragement that only people in your position can provide. Be ready. Give them a word of wisdom from the lessons you’ve learned. Pass them your rope of hope to hold onto when they waver on their cliff of despair. Pay back the kindnesses you’ve recieved in your time of need by supplying kindness to others in theirs.

    The guys who read this may not understand it, but this is how women of courage survive: They have found out how to say “Stop.” They have turned into tigresses for their children’s sake. They have ditched self-pity while they have kept self-compassion. And they have learned how to face the future practically, resourcefully, and fearlessly, one moment at a time.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks for sharing this, Elizabeth. You are so right, I and many other men can never fully understand what this, but I can admire it. I’ve seen many women in similar situations in my years of teaching and it makes me marvel. Thanks! Bret

    Denny Thurman Reply:

    Bret, Elizabeth and All,

    I like everything that has been said above except that this is just not about strong women, many men have shouldered the same burdens and challenges through the years. As a single dad with primary custody for two children, my challenges and requirements to overcome are no different. The economy devastated me during the past few years, and yet like most strong willed people I found a way to survive and to keep on keeping on.

    Congratulations, to all who “will not fail, will not give in, will not quit, whether they are male or female they’ve embraced the spirits of survival and thriving in the face of adversity and they are bringing their families through.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Denny, and thanks for adding your thoughts to the conversation. You are quite right, and I appreciate you providing the reminder. Thanks! Bret

  4. Harini Rajasekhar says:

    That’s truly inspirational Dr. Simmons ! We fret about little things in life, real life examples like these help us to stay grounded & to look at the bigger picture in life !

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Harini! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Bret