Published May 20, 2018
I would like to offer a warm welcome, and a heartfelt thank you, to the parents, family members and friends joining us today.
Your graduate has come this far, in no small part, thanks to your thoughtful guidance, and your steady support.
And today, we gather to recognize your graduate’s achievement for the milestone it is—and to celebrate the capstone of their hard work.
With that, let me be among the first to wish the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Class of 2018—Congratulations!!
You have come a long way!
Your journey to today has been marked by dedication and perhaps frustration.
By study and self-reflection.
By trial and error.
And by more late nights than you may care to remember.
Along the way, you embraced new modes of thinking.
You debated issues from different angles.
You transferred your classroom learning to real world challenges.
You found your purpose, and you pursued your passion.
Throughout this transformative process of enlightenment, you have gained priceless knowledge about your field of study and—just as important—about yourself.
So if I asked you, Class of 2018, to single out the most important aspect of your academic program that has brought your education to life, what would that be?
Don’t worry—this is not a test!
But as you embark on the next phase of your life, it is a question worth pondering.
Although it has been many years since I sat where you sit today, I would argue that our most profound learnings do not just take place in a lecture hall.
We don’t read them in a textbook or discover them inside a lab.
They don’t come to us out in the field.
Truth be told, education cannot be captured in a single moment.
It is ongoing, continuous, constantly evolving.
And with every stride we take, we seek a true understanding of respect—of respect given, and of respect earned.
Respect, compassion, integrity and justice are cornerstones of UB’s guiding principles.
We respect each other—even when we have divergent life experiences.
We respect our environment by being responsible stewards of the Earth.
And we respect what we have learned by putting that precious knowledge to its best use—namely, to address society’s most pressing problems.
Your UB education—truly, the entire scope of your UB experience—has elevated your consciousness about the world around you.
It has primed your sense of civic, professional and ethical responsibility—values you will tap every day of your life.
It has stoked your sense of purpose—indeed, your sense of greater purpose.
At the start of the academic year, we welcomed to campus Malala Yousafzai, the education rights activist who has earned respect the world over for her courage and her convictions.
When Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she noted that progress and development were happening only in certain parts of the world.
“However,” Malala said: “There are many countries where millions suffer from the very old problems of war, poverty and injustice.”
Malala continued by saying: “Let us become the first generation to decide to be the last that sees empty classrooms, lost childhoods, and wasted potentials.”
It is my sincere hope that your UB education has provided you with the intellectual resources—resources grounded in respect, compassion, integrity and justice—to do not only good things with your life, but to do great things with your life.
Throughout your education, you have already done much in this regard.
For instance, we have witnessed how you have used mathematical modeling to find correlations between sports and injuries; studied ancient inscriptions to better understand South Asian culture; and examined environmental changes resulting from one of the largest extinction events in history.
Your education here has set the stage for the rest of your life.
It is your time to put your imprint on the world around you by contributing to the world around you.
Class of 2018, I have every confidence, that as you go out into the world, you will make it a better, brighter place.
We look forward to seeing the impact of all of your accomplishments.
Congratulations on your great achievement, and all best wishes on the road ahead!