“Be a voice, not an echo!”
Korea University’s 112th commencement ceremony
Korea University held its 112th commencement ceremony in the Tiger Dome at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 25, 2019.
A total of 6,182 students—4,161 undergraduate and 2,021 graduate students—received their degrees at the ceremony.
President Jaeho Yeom said in his congratulatory remarks, “This is the first year where we’ll have freshmen who were born in the 21st century. For the past four years as the president of Korea University, I’ve been making various efforts to better our education system. As Albert Einstein said, ‘imagination is more important than knowledge.’ I have been working on turning KU campus into a knowledge amusement park, which can serve as an incubator of imagination rather than just a place of knowledge transfer, by offering various creative places on campus, such as π-Ville, CCL, and Maker’s Space. Those of you who graduate today will be the first generation who witnessed the transformation of Korea University. I will finish my term as the 19th president of Korea University soon. I’m proud of how far we’ve come in our endeavor to innovate Korea University as the university of the future.” He added, “Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian ice-hockey hero, said ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ We should be able to predict where 21st-century society is going to be. We’re heading toward the new normal. This change is irreversible. This is the default future—no one can change or deny this fact. What is important is that we should prepare ourselves to craft the future rather than react to it. So today, I’d like to share my thoughts on how proud you should be as the alumni of Korea University and how to prepare for the new normal.”
He also remarked that “in 1905 when the country was on the verge of losing its national sovereignty to colonial powers, Korea University was founded under the spirit of ‘national salvation through education.’ It was the first higher education institution that taught modern studies, including law and economics, and was a private one funded by over 2,500 people across the country who voluntarily donated money and even their gold and silver accessories. Korean people’s yearning for taking their country back by cultivating talents through higher education made it possible to establish Korea University. KU alumni should never forget this history and always have a sense of responsibility to the society. Those of you who will receive diplomas today should also keep in mind the values of Liberty, Justice, and Truth and put your knowledge and skills in good use in the society.”
President Yeom continued, “I’d like to emphasize that humankind has never stopped pioneering and improving the world. Challenge spirit and pioneer spirit are ever more important in the new normal of the 21st century. There will be failures and frustrations. But without difficulties, there is no rosy future. So far, you’ve been trying to live up to your family’s expectations, and you’ve been living as a model student of the 20th century-style education system. You’ve been educated to get good grades and survive fierce competition. You may find yourself more comfortable following what others say to you rather than trying things in an unfamiliar and unique way. But what I’d like to say to you is, be a voice, not an echo. One of the reasons why Korea University has been playing a pivotal role in our society is that KU alumni have made their voice heard in the society. They played a leading role in Korea’s democratization and industrialization processes. It is now your turn to play a leading role in shaping the 21st century with your own voice.”
The Chairman of the Korea University Foundation Jae Ho Kim said in his congratulatory remarks that “You’ve learned what you need to become the leaders of Korea and the world. To become a true global leader, you should dream big. You need to be hungry to put your heart and soul into achieving your dream. Your dream will come true if you have the will to make it happen.” He added, “The world is waiting for your brave challenges. Think differently, be the first one to explore uncharted waters, and aim higher. You may face unexpected challenges along the way. But you can overcome these challenges and make a brighter future if you remind yourself of the never-give-in spirit of Korea University.
The Chief Vice-chairman of the KU Alumni Association In Kim remarked, “You’ll go into the world where the fourth industrial revolution is taking place. You’re excellent talents who are qualified to become the global leaders of this new world. You can achieve your dream.” He advised the graduates to continue to move toward their dreams regardless of circumstances, while showing their steadfast loyalty to their alma mater and serving the communities to which they belong.
The founder and CEO of L&P Cosmetics, Oh-sub Kwon, also delivered his congratulations to the graduates. He began by saying he was honored to speak at the commencement ceremony of his alma mater. “I went into the cosmetic business in 1996 after 12 years in academia. I failed big time twice before establishing my company 10 years ago thanks to the success of Mediheal, a face mask brand. You need to fail well if you want to succeed well. From now on, you’ll fail more times than you succeed. But never give up and fight for your dreams with a defiant and creative attitude,” he remarked. He also said that, “While writing this speech, I thought it would be a good idea to share a song of my life.” He went on to talk about ‘My Dream’, a song by Chi-hwan Ahn. He remarked, “What is your dream? Think of your long-cherished dream. Think of what you did to achieve the dream. You have a whole world ahead of you, a world with full of challenges and uncertainties. But remember, you’re never alone,” emphasizing that their 330,000 fellow alumni would be with them all the way and advised them once again not to give up on their dreams.
That day, he donated KRW 100 million to a scholarship for the rugby team of Korea University, adding to the KRW 1 billion he had donated to the university for the development of sports last September. In accordance with his wishes, Korea University is actively supporting athletes on campus. Kwon has demonstrated consistent interest in supporting KU students since 2011, contributing academic scholarships, education funds for purchasing research aids, scholarships for international students, and College of Natural Science building construction project fund, which total at around 14.4 billion won. Since 2017, he has donated 30,000 sheets of Mediheal, the famous face mask from L&P Cosmetics, to KU students at the annual Korea-Yonsei Games.
Daseul Sohn (’15, Division of Business Administration) delivered her valedictorian speech. She started her speech by saying, “The word ‘graduation’ will remind me of my college days.” Sohn said, “I will be a proud alumna of Korea University, keeping in mind the KU values of Liberty, Justice, and Truth.” She also remarked that “I’ll never forget all the guests who attended this meaningful event, great professors who taught us, and the alumni who supported us. We’ll be leaving this campus behind and joining the real society, but our sense of belonging to Korea University will forever bind our hearts together.”