Beena Sukumaran Speech

2021-beena-cropped.jpgLadies and gentlemen!  We’ve gathered today to celebrate the achievements of our graduating students.  

Events such as today’s ceremony are always important milestones, not only for the graduating students but also for their families and friends, their teachers, and all who have nurtured them, mentored them, and cherished them.  And you, our students graduating today, you know better than anyone else that you did not do it alone.  

You see your parents, family members and friends.  They have stood by you throughout the years and are with you today; many others are with you in spirit.  So graduates, I ask you to stand and look around the stadium for you supporters. And let's give them a hand. 

Members of the Class of 2021 – you, and your family and friends, are justifiably proud of your many accomplishments that enabled you to complete your programs of studies and receive university diplomas.  You should be particularly proud of graduating from Miami University that now you can call your Alma Mater.   

Why am I emphasizing the aspect of pride of being a Miami graduate?  I am doing it because Miami’s education is based on a notion that teaching and learning involve not just the transfer of specialized knowledge but also a commitment to developing the whole person.  The very reason Miami’s education is perceived as having a great value is precisely because of this kind of a commitment.  Specialized knowledge may quickly become obsolete, but horizons broadened by excellent education do not.  

Higher education institutions that train people for their first jobs come and go but the universities that take the breadth of education seriously withstand the test of time.  Miami University, renowned for offering an excellent combination of liberal and professional education to all students, is one of those universities.  

You should be proud not only because you are graduating from Miami University, but also because you are getting your diplomas from its College of Engineering and Computing.  Our College’s faculty, staff, and administration have helped you to become excellent professionals capable of meeting today’s and tomorrow’s critical challenges using your imagination and ingenuity.  We know you will have an impact! 

And what formidable challenges engineers and computer scientists face - from advancing renewable energy and reversing the degradation of the environment, to providing global access to clean water and restoring and improving urban infrastructure, to advancing health informatics and engineering better medicines, to enhancing virtual reality and reverse-engineering the brain, to preventing nuclear terror and securing cyberspace. And the list goes on and on.

We also hope that our programs in engineering and computing have prepared you to make this country, and indeed the world, not only more technologically advanced and connected, but also a more sustainable, safer, and healthier place. 

We would like to think that social consciousness, global awareness, and cultural sensitivity will allow you to solve problems and design solutions that advance the idea of improving the quality of life of individuals and general well-being of communities and societies.

For many of you, however, your engineering and computing degrees will become a passport to a variety of non-engineering and non-computing jobs both within engineering and information technology industries and outside them, in business, government, health professions, and public policy. 

Regardless of your future career trajectory, I am confident that Miami’s experience has prepared you to become problem-solvers and to use a range of skills in math and science, communications, critical thinking, and management to find practical solutions that benefit people and society. 

Graduates: I truly hope that as you move through your careers, Miami’s education will serve you well.  Does it mean you know everything you need to know to succeed?  Does it mean you have fully developed your interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills you will need to succeed?  Of course not.  Remember - this day goes by two rather different names:  Graduation and Commencement. 

Graduation implies the end of a time but commencement implies just the opposite, a beginning, the beginning of the rest of your life. 

And when I allude to your future, I don’t just mean your professional careers.  Your career is important, but remember:  it is not the only thing -- perhaps it is not even the major thing -- that matters in life. 

There are families, relatives, friends, the community, and society.  It's important to keep in mind that not everything of worth has a dollar sign affixed to it.  In fact, many of the most valuable things -- the priceless ones --do not. 

In closing, I would like to leave each of you with the hope that as you make your own choices over time, you will be able to balance your drive for achievements with a commitment to love and to play, to family and friends, to your community, and to the nation. 

Members of the Class 2021:  May all of you fare well on the journey ahead. 

Members of the audience; please join me in congratulating our graduates on this day that means so much to them and to their families.