Our Perspective Is Shaped by MIT, Opportunities

Below is the text of Class of 2008 President Phi Ho’s address to the graduates during Commencement on June 6.

Class of 2008, welcome. Each and every one of us has gained a unique perspective at MIT. Our perspectives are different from one another due to the experiences that we have gone through and the goals we hope to accomplish.

One perspective from a friend was, “Some doors may close on you, but windows may open. You’ll find ways to get in.”

Now, I’m sure he wasn’t talking about robbery; he was talking about persistence and dedication. Because of our persistence and dedication, we, as graduates of 2008, have accomplished many things in these past four years.

For example, we have tackled issues of energy and sustainability with innovative solutions, using biodiesel to fuel vehicles and sugarcane waste to provide affordable cooking fuel in developing countries. Because of our persistence and dedication, we have found unconventional answers to the problems the world confronts us with today.

We, as the Class of 2008, have gone far beyond our own expectations. Our experience here at MIT is unique, unlike any other school in the nation. Where else would you be sleeping with your mouth open in the computer labs, or ordering Chinese food at 2 a.m. while finishing a pset, or chair racing in the basement of the Institute, or hanging out with your beloved TAs and professors in a nice restaurant, bar, or club? You would be hard-pressed to find another university with a culture as rich as ours.

Over the past four years, we’ve become a family. Who would’ve thought that we’d be skiing the slopes of Maine together, jumping out of planes together, or enjoying exquisite meals on dinner trains and cruises? Remember the time when we saw the Celtics beat the Knicks by 45 points? Or saw the Red Sox demolish their opponents? These memories that we share are irreplaceable, and the times we spent together are unforgettable.

Our perspective is shaped by the wealth of opportunities that has MIT provided us, from UROPs, where we’ve worked with renowned faculty on leading technology, to study abroad in international programs that provided us with work experience and cultural understanding. We’ve received practical career preparation early on through programs like F/ASIP and UPOP. So these opportunities, they’ve shaped the way we thought and they shape the way we reason, and they have broadened our perspective on our future.

We are stretching ourselves beyond our limits. As a class, we will be spanning the globe. We have graduates going to Sri Lanka, China, Singapore, India, and the Netherlands, just to name a few places. There are graduates going to medical school and law school and other institutes of higher education. We have graduates that are Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, and Fulbright Scholars. And we have graduates going into consulting, finance, engineering, technology, biotech, education, nonprofit, military, and entrepreneurship. Where else but at MIT would you get such a group of amazing people?

We have set the bar high, and we’ll continue to set the bar even higher in years to come, and I have no doubt that we will go on to become accomplished leaders. And so, our perspective, shaped by our experiences and ambitions and goals, will empower us to shape the world. Graduates of 2008, let this ceremony be the beginning of the journey of our success. Let us be proud of every step that we take today for it is a step in the right direction, for we are agents of change for the future. Thank you.