Members of the Class of 2023 – you have worked incredibly hard to reach this milestone, and your perseverance and dedication have paid off. As you look back on your time in college, I hope you feel proud of what you have accomplished and excited for what lies ahead. Miami’s education, an excellent combination of liberal and professional instruction, has definitely prepared you well for the future. I wanted to see what one of the AI chatbots would say is the benefit of a technical education built on a liberal arts foundation. The benefits it cited were: “Versatility, Adaptability, Innovation, Leadership and Global Perspective.” I personally agree that you embody those qualities and that is why Miami’s education is perceived as having great value. It provides you with the ability to be lifelong learners and thinkers who can make a tremendous difference in the world.
Any of life’s milestones are also a time of reflection. I had a chance to reflect on what it took me to get to this juncture in life – a first generation college student, a first-generation immigrant in a profession where women are underrepresented and like you, I would say it is the tremendous number of advocates and allies who cheered me on - my parents, my spouse, my daughter, my extended family, friends and colleagues. Surround yourself with positive people who will give you a helping hand when you are down, who will never say that you don’t deserve your successes and who will always push you to do better each day. These are people who will not judge you based on visible or invisible differences but will treat you fairly, equitably and justly.
You should be proud not only because you are graduating from Miami University, but also because you are getting your diplomas from its College of Engineering and Computing, where you have spent long hours. Many of you would have doubted at some point if this profession was the right one for you. I can tell you that you are in the perfect profession for the future. You have the skills and knowledge to createnew technologies, solve complex problems, and make a real difference in the world. Every one of youhas received an outstanding education from our dedicated faculty who are exemplary teachers and scholars. Some of you had the opportunity to travel the world and learn from cultures that are different from yours. Some of you had the opportunity to further develop your leadership skills. Some of you had the opportunity to work on research, publish and patent new technologies. All these experiences will set you apart as you embark on the next chapter of your life. These experiences were made possible by the remarkable faculty and staff we have in the college.
Graduates, please stand if you are able and acknowledge our faculty and staff!! I will now share some statistics. According to the US 2020 Census, only 36% of the US population aged 25 or older holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. It is a much smaller percentage that have an engineering or computer science degree. Therefore, you are joining a rather privileged group, and with privilege comes responsibility.
The world is facing unprecedented challenges from climate change, economic inequality, social injustices and threats to democratic systems. Your responsibility is to use the tools that you learned to find solutions to some of these existential threats. You have already demonstrated you can do that by some of the projects you have worked on in the past under the expert guidance of our excellent faculty and staff. I have listened to you challenge the status quo and ask for a more just society. You have worked on EV cars, advanced renewable energy, designed more efficient power electronics, engineered better medical devices, furthered health informatics to tackle public health challenges, developed smaller semiconductors, created coatings to prevent viral transmission, designed better packaging and improved the environment by removing harmful chemicals. This is just a partial list of the things you have worked on either as a senior capstone project or as a research project. As William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Therefore, use the degree you have earned today to ignite a passion for learning and make a positive difference!!
When you graduate officially in a few minutes, you will be alumni of the college and the university. You will be joining an august group that gives back in so many ways. Some of them have helped you with scholarships, acted as mentors, provided you with educational and internship opportunities, supported our faculty and staff, and served on our advisory boards. They have also been exemplary professionals that have opened employment opportunities for all of you because they are known as great leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers and technologists. You will hear from our keynote speaker, who is an alumna, about how she followed her passion and is changing the world through her work in the community. I hope you will continue to do what our alumni do by lifting up the next generation that follows in your footsteps. So please come back and visit us often.
Graduates: I truly hope that as you start this next chapter, you stay curious, keep learning, and are never afraid to take risks. Please take care of yourselves and each other. Your mental and physical well-being are just as important as your personal success, so be sure to prioritize self-care. You will hear from a fellow graduate about how he navigated college, pursued his dreams and gave back to his community, but also how he learned that he cannot do all the remarkable work that he does without prioritizing himself and caring for his mental well-being. You have been through a lot during an unprecedented global pandemic and therefore give yourself some grace.
Members of the Class 2023: May all of you fare well on the journey ahead.
Members of the audience; please join me in congratulating our graduates on this day that means so much to them and to their families.