Countdown to Virtual Commencement with Undergraduate and Graduate Student Speakers | Eric Costa Pimentel and Mrinal Ashok Bageshwari

After a months-long search, UIC Business is thrilled to announce the spring 2021 Commencement student speakers. Eric Costa Pimentel, BS Finance, and Mrinal Ashok Bageshwari, MS Management Information Systems, will speak to the student experience while delivering powerful reflections. “When selecting Eric and Mrinal, our committee found their audition videos to be very motivating and inspirational to others. Both are outstanding students who make UIC very proud!” said Joey Maman, Academic Adviser.

Eric Costa Pimentel is a Finance major and Managerial Skills minor. With a passion for student involvement, he’s held high-ranking position with campus organizations such as the Collegiate Association of Business Scholars (CABS), The Synergy Hub, the Business Student Advisory Board (BSAB) and Sigma Lamda Beta. Eric made it a priority to gain internship experience with UIC’s Innovation Center, Colorado State University, and a local private real estate brokerage firm. “It is an honor to represent my fellow classmates and graduates, and I will do my very best to inspire the next generation of exceptional industry professionals.”

Why did you choose to attend UIC and major in Finance? 

I was born and raised in Canada. During the summer before my senior year of high school, I moved to the northern suburbs of Chicago. As I was preparing my college applications, I thought about what was important to me. UIC immediately felt like the right choice since it was still close to home. This gave me the opportunity to explore the city as I commuted downtown for classes. Chicago hosts a plethora of revered companies as well. I quickly confirmed my placement and attended UIC Business later that fall. I majored in Finance because of my inherent interest. When I was younger, my parents were entrepreneurs and owned a tech company. They taught me as much as possible about the business, especially in terms of the financials. That experience led me to pursue a deeper understanding of finance and its subfields. 

Which course(s) had the greatest impact on your time as an undergraduate student? 

Two courses made a significant impact. The first being a modern Greek cities history course taught by one of my favorite professors. This class, although not directly related to my field of study, allowed me to develop my writing skills and think critically about multi-faceted contexts or scenarios. I had to sharpen my comprehension abilities and learn how to draw insights from a lengthy reading. The other was a real estate data analysis course, which I took during the spring semester of my junior year. Through an analytical approach, it taught me how to properly analyze data, organize and structure datasets, and package this data in way that is easy to understand. It also reinforced my basic programming experience. These courses pushed me to become academically open-minded and embrace the skill of learning, as opposed to relying on memorization. 

What’s next for your career? 

I plan on enrolling in a graduate program related to my research and work experience. Currently, I am deciding between the M.S. in Health Policy and Economics at Weill Cornell Medicine and the MPH/MBA program at UIC. Both are extremely interesting degrees with plenty of value, so I am excited to see where life takes me. Also, I am actively applying for internships and full-time roles in healthcare. 

What will you miss most about UIC? 

I will miss the people the most. Aside from the interesting courses, beautiful campus, and unique opportunities, the people at UIC have impacted my life the most. After joining several student organizations, I met some of my closest friendships that I will always cherish and take with me for many years to come. Staff members and faculty have made a tremendous contribution to both my academic and professional careers. Notably, my academic adviser and friend, Mayra Sanchez, has served as my greatest ally and supporter, in addition to my parents. She helped me overcome countless obstacles and has always been there to motivate me whenever I thought there was no way out of a bad situation. This Commencement speech is also meant for her, to show that her constant support did not go unnoticed or to waste. 

Can we have a sneak peek of what will inspire your speech? 

To offer a brief snippet of my speech, it mainly discusses the importance of making meaningful relationships, as opposed to simply building up a network of acquaintances. People respond to genuineness; therefore, it is imperative that we put in the time and effort to better understand the perspectives of others. This results in collaboration, community, and even friendships. My speech also speaks about the scarce nature of time. We have a certain amount of time in this life, and absolutely no one can get more of it, no matter how much money or power one may possess. Live your life with intent and purpose. Appreciate what you have and help others. Whether it be in business or in life, work in good faith and represent the true ideals of UIC Business. 

Finally, what is one experience at UIC Business that you will always remember? 

I will forever remember the day that I attended the on-campus career fair as a freshman. I was looking forward to the event all week. I printed a few copies of my resume, dressed professionally, and was ready to land an internship that same day. I walked into the room with intent. I was confident, bordering the boundaries of arrogance. I spoke to every employer in that room...and did not secure a single interview.  

After an hour of embarrassing myself, I walked out of the room and headed back to the library. I sat there in confusion for a few minutes. This was a wake-up call. Although I made many improvements since high school, I still had a long way to go. To secure an interview, let alone a job, I had to continue making significant changes. Some might have been completely discouraged from such an experience, however, it motivated me to keep working harder and once again commit myself to achieving success. Today, I have several offers from graduate schools, healthcare and financial services firms, and I plan on growing as an academic, professional, and human being. I will always use that day as a reminder to never give up on myself, even if nobody is willing to give me chance, because I always will. 

Mrinal Ashok Bageshwari will receive her Master of Science in Management Information Systems. Priding herself on academic excellence, she was a recipient of the 2020 Chancellor’s Student Service Award and is an Honorary Lifetime Member of Beta Gamma Sigma at UIC. Mrinal hopes that her fellow graduates can resonate with the experiences that shaped her life, and she had the following to say about being a speaker during this year’s Commencement ceremony. “I dreamt of being the Commencement student speaker ever since I joined UIC. When I first learned of my selection, I had tears of joy. I feel ecstatic and honored to represent the entire class of 2021.”

Why did you choose to attend UIC and pursue a Master of Science in Management Information Systems?  

I chose UIC to experience the world-class education, immerse myself into a culture that celebrates diversity, and have the opportunity to study in the 3rd largest city in the United States of America. I am very enthusiastic about using technology to solve challenging business problems and make peoples’ lives easier. The Master of Science in Management Information Systems is an ideal blend of business, information, technology, and people. Hence, it was a no-brainer for me!    

Which course(s) had the greatest impact on your time as a graduate student?  

In the past two years, I have spent time working on a diverse range of projects, various case studies, and with clients. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying all of the courses that I have undertaken, from playing simulation games to understand marketing strategies to spending hours understanding machine learning models. I have learned the value of healthy competition, building trustworthy relationships, living independently, and embracing change all while I dealt with the pandemic and its long-lasting impact.

What’s next for your career?  

The Master of Science in Management Information Systems program's interdisciplinary nature has been a great platform for me to sharpen my technical, analytical, and interpersonal skills. I am now looking for a role within the sphere of data devotees and decision-makers driven by a desire to develop innovative solutions in the arena of business/data analytics. I also intend to pass on my knowledge and experiences to my juniors.

What will you miss most about UIC?  

I will miss taking the utmost advantage of the resources and opportunities provided by UIC.  It has immensely contributed to my success. Right from access to technological solutions such as laptops/internet hotspots to focusing on mental health/wellness, UIC outdid itself during the pandemic.   

Can we have a sneak peek of what will inspire your speech?  

Through my speech, I wish to recognize and celebrate each student's experiences - successes, failures, and differences. I will also highlight things we love about Chicago and student life.   

Finally, what is one experience at UIC Business that you will always remember?  

I admire and value the support from my academic advisor and professors since day one. A great start to the journey made the rest of it easier for me. I have grown as a person at UIC.