Because of the recent severe COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan, National Sun Yat-sen University held this year’s (2021) graduation ceremony online. In a videoconference, NSYSU President Ying-Yao Cheng addressed the 3149 graduates this year, saying that NSYSU, as the first university in Taiwan, launched a financial aid program for this year’s graduates whose families’ financial situation was affected by the pandemic, offering a stipend of up to NTD 20,000. Besides, the University gave out special souvenir face masks with a print featuring the campus scenery, hoping to create unforgettable graduation memories for this year's graduates.
NSYSU livestreamed the graduation ceremony on Facebook and YouTube on June 19th at 10:00. During the ceremony, President Cheng wore the academic robe of PhD graduates and the limited-edition designer face mask and gave a speech to 1220 Bachelor, 1795 Master, and 134 PhD graduates, conveying his hopes and best wishes.
President Cheng said that the 2021 graduation ceremony was different than the previous ones: not only was it held online, but also, all the graduates graduated “in their own homes”. He said that this year’s graduates will face a rigorous world when they leave the campus. He encouraged every graduate saying: “The restrictions due to the epidemic may disrupt our plans, but our resolution when facing the chaos will be of lifetime value.” He also emphasized that diversity, innovation, and taking risks is the unchanging DNA of the University. He encouraged all NSYSU graduates to “envision the future and dare to dream” whether on a smooth road or not and they will eventually succeed.
NSYSU gave out souvenir face masks for the graduates to have a common graduation memory. Vice President for Student Affairs Professor Ching-Li Yang explained the meaning behind the design of the souvenir masks. The yellow semicircle represents the iconic sunsets in Sizihwan Bay; green and blue represent campus landscape – the mountains and the sea and symbolize NSYSU's vision; numerous little egrets in the distance along with the letters of the NSYSU abbreviation symbolize NSYSU's wish for the students to maintain their friendships after leaving the campus and enjoy brilliant future prospects; the reflection of the golden sun at the bottom symbolizes the wish for the graduates to step on a broad and open road of future possibilities.
This year’s recipient of NSYSU honorary doctorate, AIT Director William Brent Christensen, gave a speech during the online ceremony. He said to the graduates that the day’s graduation ceremony was held online like in many other places in the world, which underscores the undeniable fact that it is a very unusual time for people to graduate, as it is a major inflection point in history as the world is facing a public health crisis like nothing it has seen in a century. Although it is unclear how the pandemic will affect the economy, society, and politics in the long term, it is beyond doubt that everyone’s future has become more complicated.
Director Christensen said that there are reasons to be optimistic. Even with the COVID-19 outbreak, Taiwan has managed the pandemic better than almost anywhere else in the in the world in epidemic prevention. “The Taiwan model is still an inspiration to others and serves as a reminder that Taiwan can play an important role in addressing global challenges.” Another reason for optimism for NSYSU graduates is that they graduate from one of the premium universities in Taiwan. What comes next after graduation? He said, “there is more to consider than your own singular success. (…) You have to know that wherever you are, you are part of a community; when you work to strengthen the community and help those in need, your success will have uplifting ripple effects and your happiness will be shared wider than you can imagine.”
What’s more, three representatives of graduates gave a speech during the day’s ceremony. The President of NSYSU Students’ Association Tsu-Sheng Lin and student of the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Hsu-Hsuan Wang said that they were born in the year (1999) when the great earthquake of September 21 struck central Taiwan, and as children, they lived through the epidemic of SARS and H1N1 and now, in the final years of their undergraduate education, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. NSYSU graduates, were challenged for all these years, changing like a powerful sea breeze, struggling with the waves, facing the epidemic, steadily progressing, and now, they sail to the ocean and have to brave the wind and the billows.
Shan Kung, a student of the Global Human Resource Management English MBA Program, who comes from Myanmar, shared three secrets on how to learn to overcome difficulties, rejoice and be grand. In this time of the epidemic, the society needs people willing to give their love more than ever before. We hope that NSYSU students can go beyond, use each other's talents, abilities and resources to try to help improve the lives of the most disadvantaged.