Commencement Speech

Jan 1, 0001 12:00 AM
Shanghai Jiao Tong University Graduation
Shanghai, China

I feel so humbled and honored today to share my college experience with all of you. First of all, I would like to congratulate the class of 2019 and express my deepest gratitude to our families and teachers for your tremendous support throughout this journey.

Four years ago, if you ask me why to choose JI, I would probably think of its Internationalization, Interdisciplinarity, Innovation and Quality. However, after this 4 years’ journey, what comes into my mind first is, the people that I met here: my teachers, my fellow group mates, and my classmates.

Four years ago, if you ask me what’s my dream after being admitted to JI, I would say to my heart, a bit shy and unsure: to be the change I would like to see in the world, and make some positive contributions to people around me.

Now, in 2019, in reflection, I would like to ask myself and all of you two questions.

The first question is: Are we smart enough to have the potential of dealing with the most complicated issues?

After all the time spent doing homework, discussing academic papers, passing online judge, and dealing with tough projects, I believe all of us have developed our ability to ask, evaluate, and examine important questions, thus establishing our solid engineering background.

However, what JI education inspired me most, is the attitude of “staying hungry, staying foolish”, a dedication to life-long learning. As Isaac Asimov said, science doesn’t begin with a ‘Eureka’ moment. It begins with ‘Oh, that’s funny.’ During my campus life, I’m so lucky to have you, my dear classmates, faculty, and staff. It is you that encourage me to go further in the joy of discovery over the years, diligently and passionately.

And I will always remember the first time to be a TA for Prof. David Barnet’s course. The great probing questions students asked helped me think critically on a broader scope. I am grateful that this experience makes humanities an indispensable dimension of my education. It taught me not only to be a good engineer with ethics, but also to be leaders to fight for bigger issues.

The second question is: Are we mature enough to handle all the challenges in our life? For this question, I would like to share with you two of my modest experiences in JI, which has taught me two mindsets: patience and the ability to make connections and contributions to look deep into future.

The first story is about patience and resilience. I still remembered the time when I first joined the SJTU student symphony orchestra. I was lagging behind and often played wrong notes. I thus made up my mind to practice violin every day, even just for one hour. In order to have this extra one hour and sleep at the same time, I learned how to work more efficiently. The seemingly negligible one hour helped me made tremendous improvement. I was able to play a whole piece of concerto in front of hundreds of audiences after one year. Though this is just a minor achievement, I believe many of you have achieved far more impressive results with resilience, in the robots or apps you built. I learned that resilience is like a muscle, and the more you train it every day, the stronger it will be.

The second story is about connections and contribution. Many of you might have read articles from Miyuanshinian. We wrote stories based on interviews of alumni, to inspire students to think about their own path in the future. What’s interesting is that I found the methodologies and mindsets I learned when organizing interviews helped me a lot in Michigan’s research. For example, the attitude of questioning everything, being curious and respectful, the principles I established while working for JI people, of being responsible to my task and trying my best to help others, supported the success of many challenging projects. I hence believe that every experience we devoted our time to will help us connect dots to lines.

Many of us have been to Yunnan Province for volunteer teaching and I still remember the happiness of getting into a hot bath after a week. The experience helped us to look into the future. For example, I begin to think about how technologies can be equalized, and how can we keep in long-term contact with them. I hope all of us, after graduation, can continue to use our knowledge and abilities to bring out the best in those around you, and let them bring out the best in you.

Finally, I would like to conclude my speech with a small poem: What stands out to you in these four years. It’s probably not the grades, but the memories you made. The trails, triumphs, the highs and lows, It’s the sunrise you watched when you stayed up in your dorm. The climbs of every hill, the class football games in the field, It’s the late night you spent debugging your programs, It’s these moments that happened every year, every month, every week, and every day that taking together our JI experience. We all have that one specific day that stands out to us. Think of the difference that one day make. Now think what difference you can make in one day.

Everyone has his or her own interpretation of their JI life. I hope that we will be able to feel the fulfillment when looking back, not perfect, but with uniqueness.

Congratulations Class of 2019. I wish you success in your future endeavors, I wish you wisdom, maturity, resilience and influence. Thank you! 谢谢大家

Yueying (Lisa) Li
Yueying (Lisa) Li
Graduate Student in Computer Science

My research interests include cloud systems, machine learning and computer architecture.