“Commencement,” which is an alternative term for “graduation,” also means “a beginning or start.” As we complete our journey as undergraduates, we embark on yet another great start to our careers in different fields of society. I believe all of us will excel, whatever we go on to do and wherever we go.
I believe that most of the time we spent on campus was full of uncertainty. Given that Mason Korea is a young campus that was established in 2014, it was a huge commitment for us to be enrolled here with no concrete alumni network or wide selection of majors or courses in the beginning.
However, such an unpredictable environment became an opportunity for us to step outside our bubbles. We were able to transform our sense of anxiety into courage to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones so that we could proactively search for opportunities to lead a variety of activities inside and outside the campus.
Some of you established student-led organizations and led club activities, started internships since freshman year, and participated in research activities by supporting our professors. Those are things we couldn’t have easily achieved at large-scale universities.
Personally, the most important takeaway from my undergraduate years is not to regret whatever decisions and actions I made, and to just give whatever it is I'm interested in a shot before worrying about it. In retrospect, nothing was meaningless.
Entering freshman year, we learn about our majors. We make new friends through classes and student clubs. We find love and encounter break-ups. We sometimes make mistakes and experience conflicts. Even worse, we discontinue some relationships that we thought would last forever. And you eventually decide to embody these experiences and carry on, find and meet new people, seeing yourself become a better person as time goes by.
Earning an undergraduate degree does not merely mean you have fulfilled your academic obligations; it also means that you are now a fully grown person that embodies life values, and you are ready to share those values with people you will encounter in society.
I believe studying at both George Mason’s Korea and Fairfax campuses provided us with more opportunities to embrace cultural sensitivity and diversity that have molded us to become well-rounded individuals. You should feel proud of yourselves.
Don’t worry about what others say about your life and career path. It is your life and as long as you have confidence, you can move forward and cultivate your path based on the values you have gained throughout your undergraduate journey. Instead of following your role models, you can be a role model yourself.
Before concluding my speech, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all the faculty and staff members in both Mason Korea and the Fairfax Campus who have provided unconditional support throughout our studies. I would also like to thank the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution for supporting me to engage in cultural exchange activities with local colleagues.
Above all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and love to my parents who have sacrificed so much to make me who I am today.
Congratulations to everyone who is graduating today! I hope to stay connected as alumni and look forward to the amazing adventures that lie ahead of us.
*Condensed for length and clarity
June 18, 2023