President Edward Guiliano addresses and celebrates the Class of 2013 at NYIT-Nanjing, in Nanjing, China, on June 10, 2013.
President Yang; Consul General of the Consulate General of the USA in Shanghai, Robert Griffiths; distinguished guests; members of the Class of 2013; faculty, and staff:
Greetings on this wonderful morning! It is my privilege to celebrate with the 297 baccalaureate graduates at NYIT-Nanjing. Congratulations on earning your degree. Its value will only grow.
You’re an impressive group; we salute you and all those who helped get you to this special moment.
The author and art collector Gertrude Stein once 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.
Today, China leads the world in the share of 18-34 year olds earning college degrees, at 18 percent. By 2020, this share is expected to reach 29 percent. Yet, in certain circles, skeptics question the value of higher education, asking: “Who needs college?”
China’s economy is arguably the growth engine of the world; developing the country’s service sector is critical, requiring a move toward high-value modern services, such as information and communication technology, finance, and professional business services.
Indeed, the service sector needs knowledge capital; it will demand a college-educated talent pool possessing critical thinking and analytical skills. A college education puts you among future leaders of the service-sector economy, and at the frontlines of science and industry. You see change coming and handle it better. You make change. And that’s exciting.
But there are other reasons for needing a college degree and the education you have received, with small classes, open discussions, and hands-on skills gained in internships and volunteer work, sets you apart. Because of your American-style education, you’ll recognize the opportunities that first appear in the corner of your eye. You’ll have wonderful experiences and meet fascinating people. Some may 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. 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, experts predict apps will 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.
Today, you graduate from an institution that has long excelled at applications-oriented research. We find solutions to problems facing the world. For instance, the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture here received a U.S. Department of State Federal Assistance Award in support of a media strategy project. The grant provided funds for students to make short films to educate audiences about intellectual property rights, because film piracy is hurting China’s nearly 3-billion-dollar movie industry.
Your jobs will be better year after year, because you can solve harder problems. Consider that unemployment among college graduates of all ages in China is about 3%, well below the rate for those who drop out after elementary school.
Many of you have already obtained positions at China Telecom, China Post Bank, China Unicom, China Mobile, IBM, Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation, and Nanrui Group, among other leading organizations. I am pleased to note that some of you have decided to continue your education at NUPT and NYIT, as well other universities including Lehigh University, NYU Polytechnic, Stevens Institute of Technology, and the University of Southern California. Congratulations.
You, NYIT’s Class of 2013, are superbly global, and you know the value of entrepreneurship. Companies crave employees like you more than ever. Just ask our alumni. They include movers and shakers in top firms and government agencies including Wan Hong, vice president of Jiangling Auto Co., the largest business firm in the Jiangxi Province; Shenglai Chen, the dean of the school of literature from Shanghai Academy of Social Science; and Chen Ning-ning, known as the “Iron Princess,” one of the most prominent women in China.
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.
We don’t know the careers you may ultimately follow, and you probably don’t either. They may not even exist yet. But you are well prepared, with the critical competencies you need for the future: 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.
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 — especially to NYIT — pay promptly … and be kind.