NYU Shanghai seniors celebrate graduation
Nearly 400 graduating seniors of Shanghai New York University (NYU Shanghai) celebrated their graduation on Monday at the Oriental Arts Center in the Pudong New Area.
It was the seventh commencement ceremony in the university's 10-year history and the the first since 2019 where international families were able to attend in person.
On Monday afternoon, the 397 graduating seniors (including six study-away students from the NYU New York campus) hailing from 36 countries received bachelor's degrees from NYU, along with NYU Shanghai diplomas.
The graduates in Shanghai were joined by over 1,000 family members, including some 300 family members of international students who flew in from over 20 countries.
Esteemed Chinese diplomat Cui Tiankai, China's longest-serving ambassador to the United States, served as this year's commencement speaker. NYU Shanghai Chancellor Tong Shijun presented Cui with NYU Shanghai's Chancellor Medal of Honor before he delivered his speech.
In his talk, Cui spoke about his own life experiences, from serving in rural areas as a farmer to being a diplomat, which helped him learn more about China and the world respectively, and appreciated the value of being a global citizen.
"We are living in a world with diverse cultures and, like trees, we must first be deeply rooted in understanding our own country, our own nation, our own people, and our own culture. This is where our roots lie," Cui said. "Only when we're deep-rooted in this, can our lives flourish. On this basis, of course, we have to learn to understand different cultures and countries with an open mind."
He encouraged the graduates to continue engaging with cross-cultural exchange.
William Dreesen, an international student representative from the US, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in social science (international relations track) and advanced global China studies with minors in both Chinese language and philosophy, referenced Tang Dynasty poetry and the Analects of Confucius in his speech in Chinese.
Dreeson said that as the graduating class prepares to go their separate ways, he hopes those connections will remain strong.
"We are about to be a network of magnolia flowers scattered across the world, following the paths of destiny, and although we may have left the tree, we all know where we came from," Dreesen said. "That is NYU Shanghai."
Chinese student representative Sun Yunzhe spoke about how attending NYU Shanghai allowed her to grow as a person and cultivate her interests, while pursuing her academic goals.
A neuroscience major with a minor in data science and a focus on artificial intelligence, Sun said that what she gained from NYU Shanghai was more than just a degree.
"It was at NYU Shanghai where I experienced that love can truly eliminate the difference between genders, ages, countries, races, religions and cultures," she said. "No matter what I pick as my career, no matter what kind of life I lead in the future, I will always keep the value of love in mind."
Speeches from NYU Shanghai leadership praised the graduates for their resilience, and expressed their hopes that the experience of overcoming adversity would equip them well for the future.
Chancellor Tong Shijun congratulated the Class of 2023, reminding them that a love of learning should be a life-long pursuit.
Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman took the opportunity to promote the power of "conditional optimism" as a useful attitude towards life. He encouraged graduates to maintain resilience in the face of difficulties they may come upon in their lives.
NYU President Andrew Hamilton flew in for what was his penultimate NYU commencement addressing graduates as NYU president. Hamilton would be "moving on," as he prepares to leave his post as president of NYU and return to teaching and research in the next phase of his life.
He congratulated NYU Shanghai for reaching a new milestone by opening its new campus on the New Bund and praised faculty members and students' academic achievements.
As the graduates take their first steps into the "real world," many will continue their studies at educational institutions around the world. Some have won highly-competitive scholarships such as the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholarship.
Others will join the workforce as they begin their careers at multinational companies including JPMorgan, McKinsey, L'Oreal, Amazon, Bloomberg, Intel, and governmental organizations such as the US Department of State.
NYU Shanghai is the first Sino-US joint research university in China, founded in 2012 through a unique partnership between New York University and East China Normal University, with the support of the city of Shanghai and the Pudong New Area.
With an enrollment of some 2,000 students and a distinguished international faculty, NYU Shanghai has become a famous brand for the city and a model for cooperation between China and the US in the field of education.