Senior Reflections from the Class of 2012

This week 113 BHP seniors will graduate from the Business Honors Program. This year’s class has accomplished amazing things and made a lasting impact on the program, McCombs and UT. Here is a compilation of just some of the class member’s reflections of their time on the 40 Acres and in the BHP. Congratulations to all graduating students, we look forward to hearing about all of the great things you are doing as alumni!

“I am so fortunate that my peers, faculty and staff members, and countless others placed their trust in me over these past four years. Because of them, I have been blessed with myriad opportunities to improve BHP, McCombs, the University, and the Austin community. Despite the many things I’ve done outside the program, BHP is where my college experience starts and ends. BHP is what I’ll brag about after graduation. BHP is what means the most to me because BHP is my family on the Forty Acres.” — Michael Daehne

“I am blown away every day by the incredible commitment, passion and dedication exhibited by my peers. I draw so much of my inspiration from those phenomenal individuals around me. The Business Honors Program has given me more than just a major – it has given me purpose, motivation, and above all, a family.” — Erica Brody

“Having the opportunity to serve as Leadership Kickoff co-chair this  year was a phenomenal experience as I could remember how important Kickoff was to me my freshmen year, and was  so excited to be able to be part of the team that began a new freshman class’s chapter and open their eyes to the tight-knit BHP community.” —Angie Deng

“As a recruiter for BHP, I always tell prospective students that BHP is a major, a program, and a community. Throughout my 4 years in the program, I am amazed at how connected these elements truly are. From collaborating with my peers on projects to working with the BHP staff and making lifelong friends with students and professors alike, I have had an integrated academic, professional, and social experience that has personally developed me in completely unexpected and humbling ways.” — Bhargav Srinivasan

“I see giving back to the Business Honors Program as an important part of my BHP experience. As a BHP Peer Mentor last semester, I loved sharing stories, problems, successes, failures, and advice with all my ‘BHPlayas’. One of my happiest moments was a peer mentor was finding out that two of my mentees will be mentors next year! It gave me a warm sense of validation to see my mentees learn as students and decide to give back to the BHP community.” —Sameer Desai

“I am well known for my almost unwavering smile, for my goals to see the good in most situations and in most people, and for my true desire to spread happiness and make sure others are having as bright of a day as I am. While I have tangible distinctions that I have earned during my time here at UT, I am most proud of these intangible ones because they are recognized by everyone I meet and aren’t measured or calculated or printed on certificates. Rather, I have earned these by being true to myself and who I have set out to become.” — Jonathan Liu

“HBA stood out to me from the minute I got to UT, and I have made it my goal to make it the best organization it can be over the past four years. HBA has given me the opportunity to do so many things I never would have done otherwise and to significantly grow as a leader. It has helped me to meet my best friends and give back to the community. It has completely shaped my life in college, and I only hope that I have been able to give as much back to HBA as HBA has given to me.” — Heather Graham

“I have been fortunate enough to have outstanding mentors and have access to great resources.  I have sought to make sure my peers, especially those younger than me, can say the same. As a chair on the Texas Undergraduate Investment Team, I taught finance, accounting, and financial valuation methods to the younger students in McCombs. I believe my experience and the knowledge I gained from this team as an underclassman, were imperative in helping me achieve my career goals. I hope that my mentees will continue to pay it forward and improve the quality of education for the next generation of McCombs students.” — Shalin Dalal

“I have been a peer mentor for the freshmen since I was a sophomore. I believe I have played an important, albeit small, role in shaping the incoming BHP classes over the past three years. I have consistently given my perspective over the important traits and tasks of successful mentors and have seen the most recent group of mentors be the most involved, diverse, representative team of my three years of mentoring. I mentor because I love it.” — Ben Rogers

“I have continuously taken steps to broaden my horizons and enrich my life. Understanding that different cultures and societies will play an important role in the future, I sought to diversify my experiences at UT by immersing myself in all that our university has to offer. As a confused freshman, I did not know how my experiences at UT Austin would come to shape my personality. However, now as I prepare to graduate, I cannot help but be satisfied with my experiences as an undergraduate in the BHP.” — Anuj Khandelwal

“My experiences in BHP have allowed me to find my identity and confidence as a student leader. They have also instilled in me a passion to expand beyond this niche, seize other opportunities McCombs provides, and share my story with other students who may feel as lost and confused as I was when I first entered UT. I believe that leadership does not end with the individual but serves as a chain-reaction that inspires passion, confidence, and action in the people who encounter it.” — Grace Kim

BHP Students Win McCombs Leadership Awards

Every year, at the annual McCombs Honors Day Ceremony, several students are recognized for their contributions to the business school. Congratulations to the following BHP students who were recognized at McCombs Honors Day 2012:

Michael Daehne – BBA/MPA Rising Star Leadership Award and Outstanding Service Award

Bhargav Srinivasan – Barbara Jordan Business Leadership Award and McCombs Student Leadership Award

Michael Koetting – Barbara Jordan Business Leadership Award

Angela Morisette – George Mitchell Leadership Award

Peggy Wang – George Mitchell Leadership Award

Erica Brody – BHP Senior Service Award

Jordan Ripley – BHP Senior Service Award

Shalin Dalal – BHP Senior Service Award

Angela Deng – BHP Senior Service Award

Arjun Desai – BHP Senior Service Award

Andrew Townsell – BHP Senior Service Award

Congratulations to all BHP students who were recognized, and thank you for your contributions to our program, to McCombs, and to the University!

Student Spotlight: Michael Daehne

Michael Daehne

Majors: Business Honors, Finance, and Mathematics Major, Class of 2012

Post Graduation Job: Consultant, Sense Corp.

It is probably safe to say that most McCombs BBA and certainly most  BHP students know who Michael Daehne is. This year he served as president of the Undergraduate Business Council, he has been very involved in HBA and he has served as a peer advisor for the BHP. He was also recently recognized with the Doenges Award, the Outstanding Service Award, and the Rising Star Leadership Award.  He will certainly be missed once he graduates. We sat down with him to get his parting thoughts.

BHP: Mentorship and supporting fellow students is something that people mention when talking about you. What do you love about helping other students and why is it important to you?

MD: My parents instilled in me that you can only do so much by yourself and that you can have a greater impact if you use the talents you are blessed with to help develop other people. I think I have a knack for bringing out the best in other people. Last night we had business council elections and seeing how the younger students have developed is a better feeling for me than doing well myself.

In HBA, when I came in as a freshman, people weren’t that excited about HBA. Heather and I worked on the organization a lot together and tried to drive the excitement by meeting with individual freshmen to develop them and make them more invested in what we were doing so they cared more.

When I came on to the Business Council, the leadership was not accessible and approachable to underclassmen. When I became president, I wanted to be the most accessible person, instead of the least. I invited everyone over to my house for brunch, even to my birthday dinner. I started taking younger members and my peers to meetings they wouldn’t be a part of across campus to expose them to different ways of thought, which is very important to me.

I have been told my biggest weakness is that I don’t say no, but I think it is also one of my greatest strengths because people aren’t afraid to ask me questions.

BHP: What have you learned from the leadership roles you have taken on?

MD: I have learned to be more reflective at the kind of person I am and the leader I am. I don’t like disappointing people. I find giving critical feedback to others is difficult. I have had to grow a lot in that area as a leader. It has been reinforced in me the importance of doing the little things. It is easy to get caught up in the procedural business of what you are doing, but it’s just as important to make people feel good when they interact with you. Giving the people you are working with the respect and attention they deserve motivates them, and makes them want to do what they were tasked with.

I have become skilled at communicating hard decisions. I was able to express what we are, and are not willing to budge on in a collaborative instead of combative manner. I had to make calls to students who did not receive a leadership position in the organization, and I was able to empathize and highlight their strengths in a way that helped them and did not just make them feel bad.

BHP: What memories of your time with the BHP stand out the most?

MD: I remember the bus ride to the BHP Leadership Kickoff freshman year. It stands out in my mind because the two kids behind me were talking about how they had gotten into Wharton, had perfect SAT scores, and all of the things they had done in high school. I had a moment of panic wondering how I had gotten into BHP. Once I got to camp and interacted with the other students, I realized we were all big fish from small ponds and we were all going to have to figure out how we fit in here. We needed to check our egos at the door and come willing to work with each other and learn from each other.

HBA company field trip my freshman year in Chicago also stands out in my mind. After a dinner we had with BHP alumni, the HBA president asked me if I was going to run for a leadership position the next year. It caught me off guard and gave me the confidence to take that on. So many people over my time in the BHP have had confidence in me and helped me to take advantage of opportunities that I might not have otherwise pursued.

I also really like participating on the student Discover BHP panel, which I did for the last two years, and recruiting top students to the program.  You can go to another business school and get a great education, but the thing I love about BHP is that at the end of the day when I walk out of McCombs, there is an entire campus of opportunities and a very diverse campus. I think that diversity is the thing that binds Longhorns together. At UT, you can succeed in whatever it is you are doing by being yourself.

BHP: What are you going to be doing after graduation?

MD: I will be working as a consultant at Sense Corp., a boutique tech-consulting firm based in St. Louis. I will be based in Austin, but will be travelling around, working for different clients, offering them solutions to help improve their business.

I was attracted to consulting because BHP taught me to see how businesses run and to look at all aspects. The BHP courses are very integrated and that taught me that you can’t just look at one aspect of a business, you have to look at the whole picture. In consulting, you do that as well.

BHP: How do you plan to stay connected to the 40 Acres after graduation?

MD: I am going to be on the BBA/MPA Alumni Advisory Board, so I am looking forward to that. Because I will be in Austin, the BHP staff jokes that I will be bothered a lot to do things with the BHP and HBA, but I actually really look forward to staying involved. I would like to be involved with building BHP up over the long run, particularly in developing the scholarship funds. I would like to see a time when students turn us down because they don’t want to come here, not because other institutions are offering them a more competitive package. If we can align the value of the admissions packages with the value of the experience we are offering, we will be better off.  Right now we aren’t competitive in our offers and we are losing top students.

BHP: If you could go back and give advice to yourself as a freshman, what would you say?

MD: As freshmen we wrote a letter to ourselves at the Leadership Kickoff that we will be given to us at graduation. This is the reverse of that. I think my advice would be to never get so caught up in all that you are doing for school that you start to ignore the things outside of your academic life. Over time, I have come to understand that relationships you cultivate with people and the way that you treat others is what really matters in the long run.

2012 Make-a-Mark Campaign Breaks Records and Ends in Pies in the Face

Make a Mark 2012Brent takes a pie in the face







Last Thursday, the BHP family that I joined 4 years ago got together to celebrate our amazing trip together and the spirit of giving back. The finale was the conclusion of the Make-A-Mark Campaign to raise money for scholarships to attract the best an brightest future BHP students and keep our program competitive with the top business and liberal arts schools in the nation.

After the most successful campaign ever – 99% participation and over $20,000 raised not including alumni, faculty staff, and corporate matching donations – we were ready to celebrate a little. After checking in, chatting with Dean Gilligan and Dr. Prentice, and taking a class picture for all ages with the carefree faces of seniors who have been through it all, we were ready for dinner.

With nostalgic memories and hairstyles-past flashing on the TV behind us, we enjoyed a wonderful 3-course meal and some laughs. Midway through our feast, Professor Bermiss (donning my Stetson cowboy hat) said a few words about the importance of giving back and unveiled his faded mohawk– our reward for reaching 80% participation. (I later got to witness Professor Burris shave his head bald for reaching 85%.)

 Next,  Shelley and Dr. Prentice gave a few words on the scholarship and Dr. Prentice handed me a check for $2,500 towards the campaign — our spoils for reaching 90%. Dinner concluded with the announcement of the BHP Outstanding Student Awards and Doenges Award followed by the raffling off of over 20 prizes from a free hookah rental (the proud owner here) to free Southwest tickets, a laptop, and even a Texas Exes life membership!

After dinner, there was one last thing to do: taking out our frustrations from 4 years on the one advisor we all love…to hate. In all seriousness, Brent Winkelman was a real sport as the three highest donors — Austin, Michael, and Madison — all got their chance to pie him in the face. Strategies ranged from direct hits to maximum hair contact, and Brent got it good, taking our aggression in the best way possible – jovially.

 All in all, the finale was the BHPerfect way to celebrate our success and spend one of our last precious nights in college together. Thank you to all the seniors who donate and who made my last four years amazing. I will miss you guys. Hook ’em forever.

–Bhargav Srinivasan