Office of the President
Office of the President
Distinguished guests, faculty and staff, and yes, members of the Class of 2013:
Greetings on this fine morning. Asalam Alaikum.
It is my privilege to be here to celebrate with you and to congratulate the 138 students graduating from NYIT-Bahrain.
You’re an impressive group and we salute you.
Congratulations on earning your degree. Its value will only grow. I, too, salute everyone who helped you get here. Your parents, grandparents, family, friends – all those who helped get you to this special moment.
Author and art collector Gertrude Stein observed, “There are no straight lines in nature.” Something Einstein and other scientists proved. Well, there aren’t any in life either, though we sometimes move in what seem like straight lines in our spherical world.
As someone who once sat where you are sitting – a few years ago – I can tell you how surprising and rewarding a path my education has forged. I certainly did not major in university administration. My education taught me the value of experiencing this vast world, with its rich and endless surprises, beyond any straight path I might have envisioned. And it taught me what NYIT has taught you: To become culturally and intellectually savvy, able to integrate ideas from many sources. And to not fear change, but embrace it.
In the years to come, you’ll enjoy opportunities that first appear in the corner of your eye. You’ll have wonderful experiences, and meet fascinating people. Some of those people will probably be NYIT graduates. Including you, the Class of 2013, we have 95,000 alumni in some 150 countries. Think of your NYIT degree as your passport to the world – and the future.
Our world now has the first universal network ever. Some six billion people own cell phones.
But that’s old news. Soon everyone will upgrade to smartphones. So six billion people will have them, except it will be seven billion by then, and everyone will be on the Internet. When you put computer intelligence in new places, it does new and powerful things. And the future changes.
Even right now, there are almost two million apps for smartphones. In 2013 alone, apps are predicted to be downloaded 56 billion times. That’s eight downloads for every person on earth. And yet—5 billion people still haven’t upgraded to smartphones. So even greater change is coming.
We can only guess what smart devices will be like in 10 years. But it’s safe to say they will only get … smarter? You are prepared for this fast-evolving world.
As new graduates at the frontlines of science and industry, you can see change coming and you handle it better. You make change. And that’s exciting.
And that’s one of the many reasons university degrees are more valuable than ever.
Back in 1976, when the American magazine Newsweek was published in several languages, including Arabic, some print editions ran a cover with the big headline: “Who Needs College?”
To start with, the person who wrote that headline had a degree. Newsweek didn’t hire writer/editors without college degrees. Today, Newsweek is only online, because of technology. Its employees, however, still need college degrees.
But this question keeps popping up. What is the value of higher education?
In Bahrain, higher education is essential in keeping pace with a fast-changing, technology-driven planet. Your country has already established a great precedent as having one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world and the oldest public education system in the Gulf. And, you’ll be happy to know that salary levels for professional workers in Bahrain are the highest among all nations in the Middle East and North Africa.
With your NYIT degree, you’ll find work more easily than most your age by a wide margin.
You, NYIT’s Class of 2013, are eminently employable. You are superbly global, and you know the value of entrepreneurship. Just ask our alumni, like Ehsan Al-Kooheji from the Class of 2004, recently named to the board of trustees of the Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse, who founded his own mobile app development company, with partners that include Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
And we have alumni who also serve in senior level positions at major corporations, such as a managing director at the Almeer Group, the head of branches at Ithmaar Bank, and the Middle East manager for global oil leader Baker Hughes.
As Ehsan and countless other NYIT graduates have learned, your degree will matter more and more as Bahrain’s knowledge economy continues to grow. Employers will seek out those who possess critical thinking and problem-solving skills, coupled with an integrated technological and multidisciplinary mindset.
I certainly believe in the great return on investment a top education provides. And just this month in a national study, NYIT was ranked in the top 10 percent of the thousands of colleges and universities in America with regard to the return on your investment. And while I am using examples from America today, the fundamental truths and trends I am citing are global, resonating comparably in most nations around the globe.
I’m not sure when we started calling graduation ceremonies “commencement.” But it’s never been more appropriate than now.
None of you is where you started at NYIT. Here, you came across ideas you’d never have seen on your own. From fine arts to interior design to computer science to business administration, you’ve made new friends and connections in Bahrain as well as in New York and beyond.
We don’t know the careers you may ultimately follow, and you probably don’t either. They may not exist yet. But the critical competencies you’ll need are: good thinking, up-to-date knowledge, global awareness, teamwork, and adaptability. And you embody connectedness.
NYIT embodies connectedness, too. We are like a city spread out over the planet. Innovation has always come from cities, where well-educated people meet, talk, and spin out ideas. We’re also connected across time, with our focus on the future.
We are a network. No one moves in a straight line in a network; you move from one node to the next. You turn corners and often find surprises. Wrong turns can lead to the right endings. The more connections you have, the more paths open up and the richer your life becomes. NYIT has given you a wealth of these connections.
And those connections will always blossom because you will always be part of the NYIT family. Even though today is our final graduation at our Bahrain campus, know that you can reach out to NYIT at any time. Together, we have achieved much here, and we will do our part by being available for you, for the rest of your lives.
In closing, let me share a few words I’ve offered to graduates before you.
When you leave here today, always remember to: Think deeply, speak gently, love much, laugh often, work hard, give freely, pay promptly … and be kind.