2016 Commencement Ceremony Speech
To the proud graduates of POSTECH!
Today, each one of you will be receiving your bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. I extend the warmest of congratulations and heart’s bouquet as you resolve to embark from this monumental turning point of life.
I would like to express my gratitude to Chairman Ohjoon Kwon and members of the Board of Trustees, Mrs. Ok-ja Jang, the widow of the late Founding Chairman Tae-Joon Park, and all of our distinguished guests for taking time from your busy schedules in joining us today to congratulate our graduates who will be receiving their honorable degrees. In addition, I would like to extend a special gratitude to the parents and faculty who have tirelessly guided our graduates to become the great pillars here before you today.
My proud graduates!
Through years of study and research here at POSTECH, the crown jewel of Korea, you have successfully gone through tremendous inner growth. The degree you receive here today is confirmation that you have been equipped with the knowledge and ability to productively complete tasks in various fields throughout society including academia and industry. You are now the ‘talented individual’ (人材 – In Je) that our society hungers for. So carry yourselves with pride. You must grow to lead not just Korea but all human societies through dedicated perseverance and by ‘valuing and loving yourselves’ (自重自愛 – Ja Joong Ja Ae).
Dear graduates, what kind of a person is the true ‘talented individual’ and a leader? I would like to take this opportunity to contemplate the meaning of ‘talented individual’ and leader, together with you here as you begin a new chapter. As you well know, ‘talented individual’ is formed by In (人 – person) and Je (材 – useful tree). In (人) is a pictograph formed by two strokes, and it does not represent a person’s two legs. The word In (人) is an imagery of two people: one person leaning and another person supporting. I ask that you hold this verity in your hearts for the rest of your lives: A person does not live alone, and at times must lean on others while at other times must support one another.
The second word in ‘talented individual’ is Je (材), formed by combining Mok (木 – tree) and Je (才 – talent), which evokes lumber of the highest quality from a tree that has overcome harsh adversities. ‘Talented individual’ is thus a person blessed with superior abilities, and from that select pool emerge leaders who rise resolute as pillars of the world. Ultimately, a leader is a person who supports others instead of leaning on them. There is a wise saying in the Analects of Confucius that says, “Now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others” (己欲立而立人 己欲達而達人 – Gi Yok Lip Ee Lip In, Gi Yok Dal Ee Dal In). You must all bloom as Postechians filled with such consideration for others.
Finally, I would like to offer one more advice, which is that studying and learning must be intrinsic parts of your daily lives, even more so as you mature away from school. I ask that you etch this essential truth in your minds: An hour or two spent every day reading a book or learning something new will not just enrich your days, but will strikingly elevate the essence of your lives.
My proud Postechians!
POSTECH will forever be your alma mater. Last year we celebrated our 30th anniversary and pledged to ascend as a ‘Value Creating University’ that more directly contributes to the nation and society on the foundation of all that we have achieved as a ‘Research Oriented University.’ Every member of POSTECH will constantly strive with the utmost effort so that you may always have pride in your alma mater. POSTECH’s honor will shine brightest when each and every one of you, in your respective fields, contribute to the betterment of the world and share the fruits of your achievements with all of society.
I will always be rooting our graduates, and I truly wish for nothing but the best in all your endeavors.
February 10, 2017
President of POSTECH