Monday, June 15, 2009

OSU Commencement 2009

Yesterday, I was part of a historical event. It was the 388th commencement ceremony, the largest commencement ceremony The Ohio State University ever held, with 8,162 students graduated this spring semester. Our daughter, Yusun Kim, was part of it and we therefore didn't mind to spend 2 1/2 hours in the arena with some 30,000 other participants. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

I must say, I was curious what a famous politician and astronaut would tell young people at the doorstep into the "real" world. Senator John Glenn spoke at the heel of all the awards including one honorary doctorate for his wife Annie Glenn, for public service.

That was also the focus of the Senator's message which focused on three points:
1) Why not?
2) You are part of something bigger than yourself.
3) Serve others.

At the first point he reminiscent on the progress of humankind in his own lifetime. He inspired the audience to keep an inquisitive mind and always be curious by asking "Why not?" The infinite probabilities of our modern world have put men on the moon, advanced medicine to find penicillin, technology to develop computers, cellphones among just a few conveniences.
That took him to his second point to remind us that we are part of a larger community. Senator Glenn told the crowd:
"No person lives solely as an island unto himself, particularly in a democracy such as ours."
"Those whose world is centered just on themselves live in a very small universe. We are fulfilled when we are part of something bigger than ourselves."

Glenn was referring to society at large, saying that a democracy such as the U.S. requires people to get involved and not just focus inward. He said that's also the way to find personal fulfillment.

That's why he inspired the audience to serve others. Young people need to get involved. By serving others, they can gather their best experiences and memories.

He also mentioned that June 14th is Flag Day: "Beautiful as that waving red, white and blue piece of cloth may be, it is what it stands for, what it symbolizes on this Flag Day, that stirs our feelings, our allegiance and our willingness to support the greater cause it represents -- even at personal risk."

Glenn finished with a familiar, “And in this stadium remember the teams and outstanding individuals who played here ... and now you, just like the OSU teams will represent The Ohio State University. To you, the class of 2009, make yourself proud, God speed, and to each and everyone of you, Go Bucks!“

The Ohio State University President Gordon Gee told students to dream, and dream big.
“If you cannot dream, you will not achieve it. Never, never let a bigoted remark stand.“ President Gee gave the advice especially in regards to high unemployment and a questionable economy. He told the graduates, that with a big dream anything is possible.

At the end of the ceremony we gathered our family and friends and waited for our graduating daughter. She finally arrived, waiving her certificate proudly, "Mom, Dad, I got my certificate, I did it." We had no doubt about it, since she had worked hard and truly deserved the reward.

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