Twenty-one months. Thousands of miles traveled and hours spent studying. Dozens of trips to Austin. More caffeine consumed than I care to admit. It all leads to the ceremonies scheduled for this afternoon.

I think about the events that have led to this, and it borders on the surreal. For me, this has been more than three years in the making. Did I really sweat that hard on the GMAT? And make all those trips to Austin? And take one too many electives? And roll out of bed one morning at 1:30 a.m. to start a midterm project? And wrap it all up with a trip to Asia? Yes to all that and more.

I recall what an Executive told me when I began to consider pursuing an MBA:
“A good program will change the way you think.”

In that, the Executive MBA experience has been a runaway success. When I learn of something about a particular company, or think about the challenges facing a given organization, or if I am in conversation with a friend – some particular principle from school works its way to the front of my mind. I just approach questions differently now, and better than before.

After nearly two years of labor and sacrifice, I am grateful, maybe a bit befuddled, to have my weekends and evenings again. However, I already miss seeing my classmates. How often does one really have the opportunity to sit in a room with a group of such exceptionally smart people? Hopefully, we can find a way to continue our conversations, because I have grown accustomed to the privilege of their friendship and counsel.

The simple version is that the MBA experience has left me in a different place. Professionally, it looks like it will achieve everything I had originally set out to do. On a personal level, it has brought a measure of development and refinement that were unexpected but, in the end, thoroughly welcomed.

I can’t say that this experience has been 100% fun and I am glad that it has come to a close. But I am very grateful for the opportunity to have done it.