Giovanna was born in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu, Vietnam. She is Vietnamese Chinese American. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Washington. She will complete her International M.B.A with a specialization in International Finance and Economics. She is fluent in Vietnamese and proficient in Spanish. Giovanna is a military spouse and her husband’s Navy career will allow her to embark on a new journey in Yokosuka, Japan following graduation. She hopes to work as a business development analyst. Her professional background includes work experience at an intellectual property law firm, Bank of America, and the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation. She has been fortunate to participate in 2011 Student Council and MIIS Food Drive. She enjoys running marathons, road cycling, hiking, cooking, travelling, spending time with family and friends, and volunteering.
Congratulations Class of 2012 and Class of 2013.
Look around today, certainly there are many benchmarks you have achieved as a MIIS graduate, but one of the greatest achievements is how many of us will be friends in 10 years or even 30 years. I am certain that each of us and collectively (since we can all recall the numerous MIIS group work), we have learned a great deal about how to approach critical issues affecting our precious environment and natural resources, business, domestic and international policy, and conflict resolution. But I am sure you have also learned of how little you know. To borrow Dr. Seuss’ wise words, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Think not in terms of maximizing value for the firm or organization you will work for, but maximize your potential and don’t waste. As MIIS graduates, we understand that we should use our scarce and limited resources wisely. By don’t waste, I mean don’t waste the love, time, energy, inspiration, hope, health, friendship, support, and success you have surrounded yourself with. Use it, every ounce of it to fuel your passions to make a difference in the world. And always remember that you are more than just a title, more than just a bank routing number. Don’t sit around daydreaming or watch YouTube all morning thinking that Passion will come knocking at your door at 1130 for a walk to Ambrosia for a scrumptious, lunch buffet date. You have to get up, get out there to grab Life and your reusable water bottle to hit the ground running at full speed, get out there and explore your world. And please, don’t chase your dreams, but live them as solutions to the problems you want to fix.
I’m not here to tell you typical over-optimistic words of commencement speeches. Dr. Seuss also said, “I’m sorry to say so But, sadly, it’s true That Bang-ups And Hang-ups Can happen to you.” In hindsight, when I graduated from the University of Washington, I wished someone told me that some of the worse days lie ahead. I married my best friend…Uh oh, you’re thinking what happened to your marriage, Gi? No, it’s not like that, my marriage to Dave is one of the most rewarding friendships I could have ever asked for in multiple lifetimes. But last November, Dave broke his neck. The amazing support network from my Student Council colleagues was tremendous. The love, support and prayers from the MIIS community helped me through my darkest hours. Thank you. Today is only the beginning of the next chapter for you, and I’m here to remind you again, that when the going gets tough, you must believe in yourself, persevere, and know that there are angels amongst us, our friends, family, and yes, even strangers will help guide us to better times.
Everyday I look forward to getting up and living my life fueled with hunger to make a difference in the world because I want my nieces nephews, our future kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to live, play, and work in a more sustainable, more peaceful world. As a military spouse, I endure the numerous relocations to support my husband, our country, and we both give 110% to find ways to create a better world. In your personal journeys to develop and be the solutions to environmental issues, better management practices, and promote sustainable development, just don’t make the world worse. The skills and assets you have obtained will allow you to do great things, but don’t use it to your advantage to take short cuts or not follow GAAP regulations and end up in the headlines. Just don’t make the world worse. I’m not asking you to find a cure for the common cold or AIDS, just don’t spread it.
So, MIIS graduates, don’t waste, find your inner fuel, be passionate, have grit and persevere, and just have at it to Be the Solution.
Again, Dr. Seuss said, “YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! So. . . You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So. . .get on your way!”
Again, congratulations to my friends and graduating Class of 2012 and Class of 2013.