LA JOLLA–The University of California San Diego concludes the region’s college graduation celebrations with today’s All Campus Commencement, and ceremonies for its undergraduate colleges, Graduate Division and professional schools happening throughout the weekend.
As UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla welcomed graduates and guests at commencement this morning, he noted, “From the birth of our experimental campus, we made a commitment to exploration and discovery outside the norm. We made a commitment to move theory into practice and back again in a symbiotic relationship. We made a commitment to challenge our students, faculty and researchers to look deeper at the world around them. We made a commitment to be inclusive, diverse and equity-minded. And we made a commitment to collaborate with knowledge builders inside and outside the institution in order to solve society’s most pressing issues.”
Khosla said that UC San Diego’s cutting-edge collaborative research and the propagation of equality, diversity and inclusion are core values that align with the work of the university’s All Campus Commencement keynote speaker, Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be appointed U.S. secretary of State. As the nation’s highest diplomat, she reinforced America’s alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade, business, labor, and environmental standards abroad.
Albright told the crowd, “I feel particularly privileged to participate in a commencement at this university, one of the most dynamic and fast growing on the west coast. Driving around, as I did yesterday, you cannot miss the major transformation taking place. Clearly, UC San Diego is focused on the future. This is reflected in the courses you offer, the students you attract, the exchanges you conduct, and the values of tolerance, mutual respect and social mobility with which you are identified.
“We are all proud of the distinctions that give us our separate identities; and loyal to the groups to which we belong,” she continued. “This kind of solidarity is a means of honoring ancestors and a way to inspire the young. It makes us feel less alone and helps us to find for ourselves a unique place in the crowd. But there is also a danger; because when pride in ‘us’ hurdles into hatred of ‘them,’ the American tapestry unravels and the social fabric is torn. The result may be a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, only twenty miles from here, or attacks against members of the LGBTQ community at a nightclub in Orlando. It may be the surge in racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, or the near constant terror of shootings in American classrooms.”
Albright reminded students that they are “only a dozen miles from our southern border, where there is a humanitarian crisis made far worse by the indifference of this administration to the desperate plight of migrants from Central America.”
Then she shared what she called her immigrant moment (Albright emigrated to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia at age 11): “One of the things I love to do is to give naturalization certificates to new citizens. And the first time I did was July 4, 2001 in Monticello, Jefferson’s home … So I gave this man his naturalization certificate and as he was walking away he says, ‘can you believe it, I’m a refugee and I got my naturalization certificate from the secretary of state?’. And so I went after him and I said, ‘can you believe that a refugee is secretary of state?”
Albright concluded, “This morning, at this ceremony of celebration and anticipation, I hope you will each embrace the faith that every challenge surmounted by your energy; every problem solved by your wisdom; every soul awakened by your passion; and every barrier to justice brought down by your determination will ennoble your own lives, inspire others and explode outward the boundaries of what is achievable on this earth.”