Meet DeGroote School of Business valedictorian Marcus Marchese

A headshot of Marcus Marchese

Marcus Marchese will deliver the valedictory address at the DeGroote School of Business Convocation ceremony on June 14.

DeGroote School of Business valedictorian Marcus Marchese graduates June 14 with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce.  

We asked the McMaster graduate a few questions to get to know him ahead of his valedictory address. 

How has McMaster shaped the person you are today? 

As I reflect on my time at McMaster, I realize my confidence in my abilities grew significantly because of the people who pushed me to look at the bigger picture, ask the right questions, and trust my instincts. From friends all the way to faculty, these individuals consistently pushed me to seize greater opportunities and step outside my comfort zone. Despite facing numerous challenges, McMaster taught me how to pivot and adapt to any scenario, skills that have proven invaluable. Whether it was navigating academic pressures, or engaging in extracurricular activities, I learned to be resilient and resourceful. These experiences have prepared me not only to succeed in the workplace but also to handle life’s unpredictability. The diverse opportunities I was fortunate enough to be part of at McMaster provided me with a well-rounded education that offers purpose and direction. Through these experiences, I have gained a clearer understanding of where my strengths and weaknesses truly lie. This self-awareness has been crucial in helping me pave a future that is best suited to my skills and interests. 

Tell us about a favourite memory during your time at McMaster.  

Two McMaster students in Welcome Week apparel holding a trophy and pointing to a sign on the exterior of a building that reads, 'DeGroote School of Business.' My favorite memories during my undergrad have all been with the incredible people I participated in extracurricular activities with. These experiences have truly shaped my university journey and enriched my time at McMaster. Among the countless memories, my most cherished one is winning first place overall for the first time in DeGroote history at the National JDCC case competition. This achievement was not only a personal milestone but also a historic moment for our school.  

Participating in JDCC 2020 was particularly meaningful because it came at a time when we were all grappling with the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition provided an invaluable outlet for me and other students to connect, collaborate, and support each other during some of the most troubling times.  

Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, we were able to come together as a team, pushing through the barriers of remote collaboration and uncertainty. This experience not only boosted my confidence but also taught me valuable lessons about leadership, perseverance, and the impact of a strong support network. As I look back, I am filled with pride and gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a remarkable team and to contribute to a landmark achievement in DeGroote’s history. 

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given that you think other students could benefit from?   

A great piece of advice that I think other students could benefit from is “feedback is a gift.” As we navigate life, we realize that everyone will have their own opinion but it’s about how you form your own that matters. Being able to listen to all opinions and gather feedback provides us with the ability to create our own toolbox that allows us to apply feedback to certain times when necessary. Even though not all feedback might always be applicable, it may come in handy in the future. 

Is there a faculty or staff member that helped you that you’d like to give a shoutout to?   

I would like to give a special shoutout to Jennifer McCleary, Director of Student Experience for the DeGroote School of Business. Throughout the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of learning under Jennifer’s leadership. She created an environment where I could make necessary mistakes and learn from them, all the while knowing I had her unwavering support. Her guidance and encouragement were instrumental in my personal and professional development.  

Jennifer’s ability to advocate for students is truly inspiring. She consistently puts students above all else, ensuring that their voices are heard and their needs are met. Her dedication to student success has significantly enhanced the university experience for the many student leaders she has mentored. Jennifer has not only bettered the individual experiences of those she directly works with but has also positively impacted the entire DeGroote community. Her commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment has left a lasting impression on all of us.  

Jennifer’s approach to leadership goes beyond the traditional role; she builds relationships, empowers students to reach their full potential, and creates a sense of belonging that feels like the both of us were learning together. Her influence has helped shape a stronger, more cohesive community at DeGroote, and her legacy will continue to benefit future students. I can say wholeheartedly that without the many, many, many lessons and sayings I have ingrained in my memory from Jennifer, I would not be in the position I am today to go and take on the next step after Mac. Thank you, Jennifer! 

How do you think it is going to feel crossing the convocation stage?  

I don’t think the emotions will truly set in until September. When the Fall term begins, it will become a reality for many of us in the graduating class that we won’t be seeing the same faces we’ve grown accustomed to over the past several years. This realization is going to be eye-opening and a shift from the familiar comfort of our university community to the unfamiliar next chapter.

While it’s sad to see this chapter come to a close, it’s also exciting to embark on the next phase of our journeys. Each of us will step into new roles, face new challenges, and continue to grow in ways we can’t yet imagine. Although we might be parting ways, the experiences and friendships we’ve forged will always be a part of us, shaping who we are and how we navigate the future. As we move forward, we carry with us the lessons learned, the memories made, and the confidence that we are prepared to take on what’s next in our own stories. 

Click here for stories, videos and highlights from Spring 2024 convocation ceremonies and celebration events 

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