On July 7, leaders, faculty and graduates from all of the academic schools of PKU Shenzhen gathered together in the HSBC Business School Building for the 2021 PKU Shenzhen Commencement Ceremony. The event also coincided with the 100 Year Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and 20 Year Anniversary of the Fonuding of Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, making this ceremony a historic moment.
Because continuing epidemic prevention measures restricted many participants from being able to make it in person, the ceremony was carried out ina “offline + cloud live stream” format. After years of hard work, 966 students of PKU Shenzhen , including 60 doctoral candidates, 37 international students, and 21 graduates from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, successfully graduated.
Despite the strict epidemic prevention measures, the school made every effort to ensure graduates were given an unforgettable ceremony, including performances, special gifts and heartfelt speeches.
First to speak was Li Zixuan, a graduating student from the School of Electronic and Computer Engineering. She spoke on the necessity of being able to be independent and persevere. She talked about her countless nights alone in the lab performing experiments during her three years of graduate school. She needed to be able to rely on herself and make progress alone. She said that if you can cope with loneliness and be courageous, the world will open before your eyes. But, she said, even in times when you are not among the crowd and working hard alone, PKU by your side. She said, as graduates, they will always have the entire PKU community by their side carrying forward the PKU spirit.
Philipp Hackel, an international graduate from HSBC Business School, shared two points from his time staying at Nanyan. First, the new interpersonal interactions he had in China made him rethink and examine his own culture and habits. He overcame cultural obstacles and gained a new understanding of his own culture and country. Second, being in the challenging and rewarding academic environment of PKU was a life-changing learning experience. He drew on his own discipline of Economics to show how PKU Shenzhen is truly practicing “Ensuring Quality and Pursuing Excellence.” He said with help from his instructors, he learned to develop models which do not simply rely on assumptions taken from western societies. For him, the self-discipline and perseverance gained from PKU urged him to keep moving forward as he stepped out of his comfort zone. He encouraged all fellow graduates to also step out of their comfort zones. This way, they can continue to progress through merging the familiar and the unknown.
Tong De, Associate Professor from the School of Urban Planning & Design, was the next to speak. She advised graduates to stay humble and “low-key.” She told graduates that they should make their work stand out instead. She hopes that the graduates will treat everyone around them with a friendly and humble attitude, saying “You will make the people around you feel warmth and in this way, they will also be willing to slow down and appreciate your intelligence and your skills and even be full of excitement to work with you.” In the end, she appealed to the graduates to focus on big achievements and milestones in life, not small things, and she hopes that in 20 more years, when PKU Shenzhen turns 40, they will meet again.
Alumni representative, Mr. Liu Xiaochun, talked drew a connection between the spirits of PKU’s iconic Red Building and the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The Red Building and the Shenzhen SEZ share a spirit of innovation, openness, and responsibility. While the Red Building was the home to the progressive ideas which revolutionized China and lead to the founding of the CPC, the Shenzhen SEZ represents the same spirit of openness and innovation in the modern age. He said that the Red Building Spirit includes the spirit of innovation, openness, and responsibility. He told the PKU Shenzhen graduate, that because they have roots in both Peking University and Shenzhen, “the DNA of innovation will be with you for the rest of your life, and you will become an eternal force sustaining the light of development for all.”
Professor Zhan Qimin, Deputy Director of the PKU Administration Committee and Chancellor of PKU Shenzhen, also took the stage to address the 2021 graduates. He spoke on the importance of this occasion coinciding with the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China and the 20th Anniversary of the Founding of PKU Shenzhen. He traced the history of PKU Shenzhen’s persistent growth in its first 20 years and pointed out that aspiring young people should undertake the mission of their time. He called on the students to keep in mind three things. First, be inclusive and face all the possibilities in life with an open mind. In this rapidly changing new era, he encouraged graduates to learn to accept and readjust when they face changes and setbacks. This may demand breaking out of their “comfort zones” he said. Second, don’t stop learning and improving. Shenzhen is a city at the forefront of China’s Reform and Opening-up. He remarked that “breadth and depth of knowledge” are essential for the people studying and living here. Third, be at peace and steady, fight against the noise of public opinion and trends. He quoted Mr. Li Dazhao’s words: “Everything must be done down-to-earth, not in fantasies, not in vain, but only with an attitude of truth-seeking and practical working.” Finally, he wished the students don’t forget their original mission on the road to realize their dreams and bravely walk with the times.
To conclude the talks to graduates, Professor Gong Qihuang, Executive Vice President of Peking University, also referenced the proud history of PKU and the important moment in time we are in now. He said that after twenty years of development, PKU Shenzhen has inherited the profound responsibility of the century-old Peking University and integrated the innovation and open-mindedness of Shenzhen. As the only branch campus of Peking University, PKU Shenzhen has carried the mission and ideals of PKU to lead higher education reform since its inception. He also left students with three important ideas. First, keep their family and country in mind, and don’t set personal goals with merely self-interested goals and values. He hoped that the graduates could closely connect their personal ideals with the destiny of the country and the progress of mankind, go wider on the road of life and achieve their success through helping the world. Second, he told students to stick to their ideals, think independently and make rational choices. In these times of increasingly complex information, he hopes that graduates can use independent thinking and rational analysis to understand better what is “seizing the opportunity, seeking advantages and avoiding disadvantages.” Third, he asked students to unite knowledge and practice and seek and fight for ideals without fear. He hopes graduates explore bravely and forge ahead with determination when facing difficulty, anxiety or confusion. He believes that Nanyan graduates have very bright futures!
After the speeches, the degree awarding began. Professor Gong Qihuang turned the tassels for outstanding graduate representatives and awarded graduate certificates to the outstanding graduates. Chancellor Zhan Qimin and Professor Yang Zhen turned the tassels for Master’s and Ph.D. graduates. Each graduate took the stage with a beaming smile to snap a photo and capture this milestone in their life.
The ceremony was a fitting celebration for the amazing accomplishments of this year’s graduates. After all of the united efforts to control the epidemic, on top of the incredible developments of PKU and Shenzhen over the last two decades together, there is plenty of reason to have great expectations for the future of each graduate. We look forward to seeing their contributions to the world!