Master of Finance Program celebrates Class of 2013

Published: June 7, 2013

The Master of Finance Achievement AwardsThe Master of Finance Achievement Awards

The graduates of the MIT Sloan Master of Finance (MFin) Class of 2013 should not only be proud of how they endured an academically rigorous year, but also of the way they handled challenges they faced outside the classroom, said several distinguished speakers at the MFin Convocation on Thursday morning, the day before Commencement.

“Community” was a theme that arose several times during the ceremony to honor the 122 members of the Class of 2013, in the fourth full year of the degree program, which was launched in 2008.

MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein lauded the class in his opening remarks. “Besides the academic accomplishments, you’ve come together as a community … you have come through a year that has challenged you academically, but also challenged you with respect to personal resilience,” he said. “You know the challenges we faced on the MIT campus, in Boston, and in Cambridge during this past year. This has been an extraordinary time, and you have supported each other.”

Class speaker Tiffany Wetherell, MFin ’13, said she owes many of her achievements in the past year to her classmates. “Without your support and collaboration, I would not be graduating from a program that truly tested my passion and stomach for financial markets,” she said.

The shared experiences transcended the classroom, in a year that featured “extreme displays of weather, from Hurricane Sandy to snow blizzards,” Wetherell said. “And, even in moments as dark as those on April 15, the Boston Marathon bombing, our first reactions were to check on each other, and to warn one another of any remaining danger.”

Wetherell noted that Professor of Finance Andrew W. Lo told her and some class members that their goal should be to have their MFin degrees appreciate in value throughout the years. “Imagine reapplying to the program in five years’ time, only to find that we are grossly under qualified for the prestigious Master of Finance Class of 2018,” she said.

Indeed, according to faculty speaker Stephen A. Ross, Franco Modigliani Professor of Financial Economics, there is a “running joke” among the finance faculty that the MFin program is so arduous that many of them would not have been accepted to it.

“You’ve had the privilege of studying an extremely demanding curriculum, and you’ve done so in classes taught by some of the very people who invented what they are teaching … it was difficult to get into this program, and it’s difficult to get out of this program,” Ross told the graduates.

Ross also noted that this year’s MFins are graduating at precisely the right time. “You are entering a world that desperately needs your skills,” he said.

Professor Jiang Wang, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor and MFin faculty director, told the class that the future for finance as a whole is bright. “Certain parts of the market may go through cycles, but … there is no doubt you will do well,” he said.

MFin Program Director Heidi V. Pickett presented the Achievement Awards to five graduates—Hellen Hou, Alexandra Kontopoulos, Thomas Martin, Tiffany Wetherell, and Chris Zhang—for their significant impact on the community. “These are the students who went above and beyond to make a positive contribution, enhancing the experience for everyone around them,” she said.

After a slide show featuring MFins both at work and at play, Associate Dean Jacob Cohen wrapped up the ceremony, reminding graduates to be “flexible and open to change,” attributes that will likely prove as crucial in the business world as they did on campus.