Brooke Bornick (EMBA 2016) married her EMBA classmate – Sébastien Long – in Cambridge, the day before their University graduation. Brooke reflects on her final weekend in Cambridge before starting her new family life – and business ventures – in Texas.
As the new 2018 cohort prepares for Orientation Week, I’m equal parts envious that they still have this transformative experience ahead of them and grateful to have 82 incredible people from the 2016 cohort in my life.
A few months ago, my husband and I graduated from Cambridge together. Neither of us imagined how this day would look that when we started the Executive MBA. Two years ago, I applied to the EMBA seeking a challenge and a platform to pivot my litigation career into something new. In the months that followed the stunning offer of a seat at Judge in the 2016 EMBA cohort, I daydreamed about the ways the experience might change my career. I never imagined how completely Cambridge would change my life or how much happiness could be squeezed into one last Cambridge weekend.
18 May – our EMBA wedding
On 18 May 2018, I married my classmate, Sebastien Long, in Cambridge. Pembroke College (Seb’s college) graciously allowed us to hold a small wedding in the Old Library with our families and a few close friends. My oldest daughter, Allie, held our rings during the ceremony. My youngest daughter, Carrie, took her flower girl duties seriously and scattered rose petals well into the drinks reception.
Later that evening, we celebrated concluding the EMBA with 82 of our favorite people at the graduation drinks reception held at Cambridge Judge Business School. (I even tossed my bouquet in the new Simon Sainsbury Centre!) The feeling of having our huge EMBA family showering love on us hours after our surprise wedding was unforgettable.
19 May – our EMBA graduation
On 19 May, another American bride married her British prince, but we were too preoccupied in Cambridge to notice. Seb and I assembled at the School for the class graduation photo. The part I remember most about that morning was that the mood was so relaxed and cheerful as everyone donned their hoods and took a few silly photos once our official photo was taken. Then Seb and I separated to take our families to our respective colleges for the graduation rehearsals. We expected to graduate around the same time of day, but too close in time to be able to attend each other’s ceremonies.
At Clare College, my daughters, parents, and sister giggled as I practiced kneeling for the graduation ceremony. My daughters marveled at the antique wooden “treasure chests” in the dining room. My parents and sister seemed dutifully impressed with the architecture and gardens. At 11:30 a.m., the porters clanged the bell at Clare College and the Clare graduands began our processional to the Senate House. Assembled in front of the Senate House, we were surprised to see the Pembroke College graduands assemble nearby. Seb and some of our dearest friends were among them. Out of sheer serendipity, Clare and Pembroke were to share a graduation ceremony.
When we entered the Senate House, we graduated in small batches with monologues in Latin and then individual approaches to the kneeling bench to receive our degrees from the head of Pembroke on behalf of the University of Cambridge. Each graduand is expected to leave the hall immediately after receiving his or her degree. Instead, I found an empty seat in the front row and was able to wait and watch my new husband and our friends receive their degrees. The feeling was triumphant after such an intense journey!
We shared a family lunch on the River Cam next, and then attended a lavish graduation dinner at the Cambridge Corn Exchange hosted by Judge. Families mingled, kids played on the edges of the crowd, and a large “EMBA 2016” display lit up the stage. Academic director Khal Soufani gave a heartfelt address to a class that has developed close relationships with our professors. He warmly congratulated Seb and I on our recent wedding and wished us well in our new life together in Texas. The cohort chose Dr. David Lenihan to give a student address at the dinner. Like David, the speech was warm and funny. The evening closed with academic achievement awards; I was probably prouder than Seb of the stack of awards he collected for his stellar efforts in the program.
20 May – a week in Norway
Since we married on Friday and graduated on Saturday, we needed interesting plans for Sunday. On May 20, Seb and I flew with my family to Norway to meet my long-lost Norwegian relatives. They welcomed us with Norwegian flags, a full-scale family reunion, and a ride in their 1931 Model T car.
After a week of meeting the warmest people and touring fjords and museums, we returned to London to prepare for Seb’s move to Texas.
30 May – back to Texas, starting my new businesses
On May 30, we flew home to Texas with my daughters (our first international family trip on the books). Since then, we have been even busier than we were in May. I started practicing law again, providing corporate and commercial litigation services in Florida and Texas. I also co-founded a startup venture with a friend to create an app to help moms find meaningful connections with other moms. I’ve been conducting market research, handling corporate issues, and learning about privacy policies. Our prototype should be ready to test any day now and the responses from moms has been overwhelmingly positive.
The courage to launch a business (let alone two of them!) is something I didn’t have before the EMBA. The experiences – both in and out of the classroom – have taught me so much that it feels like a rare opportunity would be wasted if I didn’t use the EMBA as a platform to make a bold change.
A message to the 2017 and 2018 class
The 2018 cohort is starting this journey soon and the 2017 cohort is in the middle of this journey. I wish them the best in all that lies ahead. Seb and I will see you all at Electives Week and we would love to hear where the EMBA takes each of you.