Merritt Rosen
Photo by Ant Smith

Merritt Rosen

Master in Management


Congratulations graduates on your remarkable achievement! I am honored to represent my fellow graduates and I would be happy if my words today can capture even a fraction of your experiences and successes.

Frequently, graduation speakers use their platform for inspiring calls to action such as "Go boldly forth into the world and into the next phase of your life.”  But I don’t think that I need to do that - your presence here today is already evidence that you already have the drive, the courage, and the grit to accomplish your goals. Rather, I would like to use this moment to reflect on the past couple years and the distinct challenges we have endured as a class of students navigating a global crisis WHILE pursuing higher education.

My first semester at TUJ was spent at home, participating in classes that were held from 2 - 5 AM. Needless to say when I applied for graduate school in Tokyo I never anticipated discussing economics in my childhood bedroom at 3 in the morning. But there I was, every morning, with my 12 other classmates also experiencing the same isolation but still fighting for their education. Together, we created a community across time zones and  if someone wasn’t in class, you can wager that all 12 of us would be sending the absentee text messages to check-up on what might have been going wrong.

But I am not going to sugar coat things, the isolation I experienced during those months on zoom was profound. I decided to delay my studies until I could come to Tokyo in person and took a job as a companion to the elderly. While waiting to resume my education, I spent the year going on museum outings and reading poetry with elderly New Yorkers who were just as hungry for connection as I was coming out of the pandemic. I loved seeing art and the world through their eyes - accessing a new set of philosophies and perspectives and having a chance to, in return, share my own ambitions, fears, and internal world.

I would like to share with you all what I learned.

Talk with people - especially those in our communities who may not have many to talk to or who may be more vulnerable than you. Make time for them. In the face of unending world-transforming technological developments, find continuity in ageless wisdom. You all are wildly ambitious and know how to succeed academically for yourselves, but remember to uplift those around you. Compassionate treatment of others is necessary for our own thriving.

The isolation and struggles of the past year have taught us that human connection is more important than ever. While artificial intelligence has made our lives more convenient in many ways, it cannot replace the empathy, compassion, and understanding that nourishes us.

Before joining the Master in Management program at TUJ, my educational background had been entirely focused on art, and in particular, dance. My immersion in the arts taught me the value of communicating ideas through unconventional and often nonverbal means. With a background in the arts, I wasn’t sure how I would fit in to business school. I carried preconceived ideas about the types of people I may meet and the values they may hold. What I found were people from all different cultural and academic backgrounds willing to share complex ideas creatively - often navigating through linguistic barriers to do so. Creative problem solving and alternative communication styles were crucial in finding common ground with such an international and diverse student body. We learned and taught - and occasionally fought - one another but always with an orientation towards our shared goal of supporting each other’s education.

I met so many wonderful and fascinating people through the business program - I was never alienated by my dance background because the other students all had their own unconventional backgrounds and interests. Including: a student who has started their own clothing line AND is an accomplished photographer, a student who had formerly been a division one swimmer, a student who is a graphic designer, and several students who are trilingual. We have business students who are proud otaku and students who are budding socialites. We have saxophonists, farmers, and engineers.

Graduates, today marks the end of one era of your life and the beginning of another - taste the complexity of that emotion.

As we leave TUJs community, seek new opportunities, and find new daily rhythms, remember the lessons of the past year. Let us cherish our relationships with one another and never take them for granted. Soon, you will be forging new communities of your own and I encourage you all to remember the support you experienced during the toughest days of the pandemic and ask yourselves how you can invest your energy into nurturing one another.

Going forward I want to encourage you all to listen - but not just in one way. Linger for longer at the park, stay for one more karaoke song, ask someone to dance with you. You are not alone - savor your connections and learn from everyone.

Let us use our education and the knowledge we have gained here to make a positive impact on our communities.

Congratulations once again, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.



Merritt Rosen
写真撮影:Ant Smith