KU President Yeom’s Message: “Become Social Innovators by Experiencing Priceless Failures and Making Constant Endeavors.”
KU Holds Its 110th Commencement Ceremony
Speaker of the National Assembly Chung Sye Kyun Gives Advice on “Positivity, Mentors, Uniqueness, and Neighbors”
On Saturday, February 25, Korea University (KU) held its 110th commencement ceremony at the Hwajeong Tiger Dome.
A total of 6,445 students (4,393 undergraduates and 2,052 graduates) received their academic degrees.
President Yeom Jaeho began his speech by saying, “This year is special as it is the year that KU has produced its 110th class of graduates beginning with the first graduates in 1907. Never forget that the honorable degree you are receiving today is a result not only of your efforts and skills but also of the help of many people who have assisted you along the way. I hope you become warmhearted, embracing leaders with humble spirits indebted to society.”
Yeom further said, “The society you will be entering may seem to be full of uncertainty and chaos, but when confronted with the rough and stormy future, I hope to see you not as weak but as strong ‘pioneering intellectuals’ who can move beyond and navigate through such uncertainty. Moreover, do not think of resting on your seniors’ shoulders for what they have accomplished in the past concerning economic growth and never settle for the present. I hope to see you become new intellectuals pioneering and opening a new chapter in Korea’s history in the 21st century. Becoming pioneering intellectuals does not mean being smart and diligent. It means to become individuals adventurous enough to enter unpaved paths that others have not traveled on and once there to see what others have been unable to see. Do not be afraid of seeing 20th century industrial society jobs disappear. Instead, direct your attention to the millions of new potential jobs in the 21st century knowledge society. Only pioneers can achieve what they want in the future.”
Yeom continued, “You probably may not be familiar with failures. Despite that being able to a part of the reiterative cycle of experiencing challenges and failures is the privilege of being a student, many of you here have been trying to avoid failing at all. However, experiencing failure can be more priceless in society. This is because only those who have failed can find better ways to overcome hardship.”
He continued, “You who graduate today and take the first steps into the world, I hope to see all of you become social innovators. Whether you pursue your careers at a company, startup, or university, you have to be social innovators who constantly try to change the society that we live in. Instead of merely pursuing material interests and becoming submissive to them, I would like see you become social innovators who can address and deal with social issues out of pleasure and curiosity.”
“Last, in the rough seas that you will navigate, you will encounter storms and reefs, sometimes drifting off course and losing your direction. However, I want to you to know that Korea University, where you have cultivated the spirit of liberty, justice, and truth, will always be ready to warmly welcome you with open arms. I urge you to remember Inchon’s spirit of “setting the public good before private interests (公先私後),” and wish you all the best for the great future that lies ahead.”
Kim Jae Ho, chairman of the Korea University Foundation, said, “In order to accomplish great goals, you need to challenge yourself with passion. I hope to see you fulfill your dreams with strong wills. If you continue to rise to the challenges ahead with positive energy, you will definitely accomplish your dreams. Do not forget that it is you that makes you yourself. There is no right or wrong answer in life. As an elder in life, I advise you to find your strengths and merits, even though it may take you quite some time to figure them out. Knowing the strengths and merits that differentiate you from others will serve to protect you for life. Moreover, never give up on yourself and never avoid facing the world when you experience failure, whether it be small or big. Only when you walk toward the world and embrace it can you find new hope.”
Lee Hak Su, president of the Korea University Alumni Association, delivered his congratulatory remarks by saying, “The social peace in our generation is becoming fiercer than ever and depends greatly on how we combine economic efficiency and the principles of justice in a harmonious manner. I urge you to live your life not for your own comfort but to live to serve your alma mater and society. I look forward to seeing you work toward creating a healthy and harmonious nation and society.”
Chug Sye Kyun (’71 Law), Speaker of the National Assembly, delivered his speech by conveying encouragement from the perspective of a former KU graduate. He asked the graduates to act upon four things. He said, “First of all, if you act based on positive energy, you will have different output. Second, find mentors who you can trust and open your hearts to. If you have a mentor who you can share your worries and concerns with, your life will become much easier and you will learn more at the same time. Third, create your own uniqueness. We all live different lives and none of them can be the same. In a world where diversity and creativity are considered important, try to discover your own uniqueness and find a way to cultivate your own value. Last, serve your neighbors. Our society is currently experiencing political turmoil. If you think of what is causing this, you will discover that it is due to a winner-takes-all attitude and overall selfishness. You need to look beyond yourself and start thinking of others, the ‘we’ who live together.”
He wrapped up his speech by saying, “I expect you to become talented people who will be prepared for tomorrow’s changes.”
Park Jung Ho from the Department of Korean History gave an address on behalf of the graduating students. He said, “There have been days of pleasure and grief, but KU will take its place and remain deep in our hearts. Together, our hearts will beat stronger when we think of KU, and united we will carry out our duties in our own positions. As graduates of KU, we will take great pride and sincere responsibility and march into the bright future as one. We will live to the fullest, leaving no regrets behind and making sure that KU will go down in history. Finally, I would like to speak of the word ‘duty.’ Duty is something that we as human beings have to do. Without thinking of what others think of us, I hope to see us become proud alumni of KU who stand firm and fulfill our duties in whatever situation we will be in. Trees that have strong roots stand strong no matter how strong the wind is. As mature intellectuals and members of society with strong intelligence and warm passion, we will do our best to set a good example as we write new history for future generations.”
Last year, KU celebrated its 111th anniversary and created symbols that represent individual colleges by reflecting upon the history, tradition, education ideology, and initials of each college. For this day, KU produced stoles that represent each college and distributed them to the graduates so that the stoles could be worn with their graduation gowns.