Tony Wells
student experience


Carey’s class of 2024 graduates with a mandate to be transformative leaders guided by unwavering humanity

Why it matters:

The new MBA and master’s degree recipients face a future full of AI and a society in need of meaningful leadership.

Nearly 1,100 students became Johns Hopkins Carey Business School alumni Tuesday in ceremonies that emphasized the impact they now can have on society. 

Graduates and guests packed Baltimore’s Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and took away more than their degrees and printed programs as former Verizon Chief Media Officer Tony Wells (LDP ’97) shared insights he’s gained from a 30+ year career, including leadership at two Fortune 500 companies.

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who would not agree that today’s world, institutions, organizations, and classrooms need change,” Wells told the Carey Class of 2024. “As a Johns Hopkins graduate, you have the knowledge, expertise, tenacity, energy, and the mandate to be a transformative leader. You have the skills to change today’s business, academic, religious, government, non-profit world, or quite frankly whatever world you intend to operate in and make your presence felt.”

Wells offered several practical ways to do this, telling the graduates to be ethical, trustworthy leaders who communicate transparently and repetitively around a consistent vision. He encouraged them to be courageous, moving beyond incremental efforts toward daring themselves to be great. He told them to be “obsessed” with value and customer satisfaction. For balance, he told them to spend their hard-earned time off with loved ones, take care of their health, and spend time each month in reflection.

Dean Alex Triantis issued a challenge to the graduates to keep humanity first as they navigate the business world as new leaders in a time of burgeoning technological innovations. 

“As new business graduates, you will be in the driver’s seat leading this AI revolution,” he said. “But as we embark upon the new business landscape, and even as we embrace the digital advances that make our impact possible, I encourage you to seize this future with something even more powerful: unwavering humanity. It is perhaps our most cherished Carey value.”

Limitless opportunity ahead

Student speakers added to the inspiration with their own reflections on the Carey experience. Full-time MBA graduate Anny Johanna Gonzalez Polanco recalled what it took for the class to get to that day.

Polanco, a trilingual first-generation college student whose grandparents traveled from Alaska for the ceremony while her mother watched the livestream from overseas, founded and served as co-president of Carey’s Latinx Student Association. But if her credentials are distinctive, her message to her fellow graduates recapped an invaluable shared experience of relentless advancement and boundless curiosity. 

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“Today, we commemorate countless hours of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that have led us to this point, and the limitless opportunities that lie ahead,” Polanco said. “To my classmates, each one of you is a truly amazing, capable, thoughtful individual, and if I had to do this all over again, I would choose to do it again with all of you.”

Master of Science student speaker Vivian Wu also addressed Carey’s values. Wu shared that she came to the U.S. from China as a wide-eyed college freshman and embraced the unknown in order to achieve her goals. 

“Reflecting on the Carey experience, if there’s anything I learned from my journey here, it is to embrace the unknown,” said Wu. “The future belongs to the brave souls who confront change and flourish among uncertainties.”



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