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2017 Commencement Charge to Graduates


Commencement 2017
Charge to Graduates
Sung-Mo Kang
President of KAIST 

I would first like to congratulate everyone who is graduating today!

Every one of you represents the remarkable fruition of education and research at KAIST. This day of your graduation will be recorded in the history of KAIST. I sincerely thank everyone who is with us here today for this meaningful moment.

I would particularly like to extend my gratitude to the parents of our proud graduates and all of their family members. Your unwavering love and support as well as your firm belief in our students helped them make their way through to this magnificent commencement ceremony today. I would like to express my deepest respect and appreciation from all of the faculty members of KAIST.

Students of KAIST!

Please stand up and face your family, parents, spouses, loved ones, and friends. Please give them a big hand as a way of showing your gratitude.

Now, I ask you to applaud the faculty and staff members who worked with you through your journey at KAIST.

Lastly, with a big round of applause, let us express our respect and thanks to our steadfast supporters and esteemed donors who helped you focus on your studies and research.

Now, please take your seats.

Your commencement today is personally important to me as well. In February 2013, I was inaugurated as KAIST’s 15th president and met you first at your matriculation ceremony on March 4th that year. As a freshmen myself at KAIST, we promised to work hard together for the next four years and see one another again at the commencement ceremony.

I am sure that those of you graduating with a bachelor’s degree today remember our first encounter four years ago. My wife and I did our very best to keep our promise with you, and now, my honored presidency at KAIST will end on February 22. Seeing your faces today, I am proud to say that all of you have done your best, and together we were able to keep our word. I thank you, and I am truly proud of you for your growth at KAIST. I would also like to thank and congratulate our vice presidents and deans, as well as my wife, Myoung A Kang, who supported my work for KAIST’s continued development over the past four years.

From today forward, you will begin new journeys, in many different environments. Some of you will continue to pursue advanced degrees, and others will begin working in all corners of our society and contribute to social development based on your expertise. Some of you may take some time off to recharge and pursue new dreams.

We are, indeed, standing at different starting points, but all of us share one common thing: we all are KAISTians. KAIST has become one of the top universities in the global arena, and I would like to describe our name, KAIST, with some keywords that best capture our value and spirit.

First, K represents Knowledge Creation. To date, KAIST has created new knowledge and technology in such a way as to contribute to human progress.

Second, A signifies Advancement. KAIST never ceases to endeavor to achieve continued progress in all areas and to make a better tomorrow for the world.

Third, I stands for Integrity. We enjoy freedom, but with principled rules; we are determined to be honest and upright. Integrity coupled with strong consistency in values and conduct upholds KAIST’s identity.

Fourth, S means Sustainability. Education and research are sustainable fields for improving the quality of the future. KAIST is committed to ensuring that today’s efforts lay a foundation for sustainable development, and will continue its endeavors for many years to come.

Finally, T represents Trust. KAIST is a school trusted by the entire nation and its government, and particularly by the parents who send their children here for a top-level education.

Embodying the relentless creation of knowledge, vigorous progress and advancement, as well as integrity, sustainability, and trust, the KAIST spirit is imprinted in the DNA of all KAISTians. You were trained to take on new challenges and overcome difficulties, and I believe you are all fully ready. As the president of KAIST and a scientist myself, I have the utmost confidence in you. As KAIST graduates, you will face high expectations from our society and begin taking leaps in various aspects in your life.

You are all very special and talented future leaders. With an outstanding gift for science and technology, all of you have seen your talent blossom as guided by your unique experiences at KAIST. We are well aware of the sincere and constant efforts you have put into your studies up to this very last day at KAIST. Think back upon all of the challenges you faced. They will only make you stronger.

Now, you are charged with a new mission: as future leaders of our society, you are expected to develop a sense of compassion and outstanding professionalism to contribute to the advancement of not only Korean society, but also the international community. I encourage you to dream big based on your in-depth knowledge and the practical wisdom KAIST has offered you.

I am confident that you as KAISTians will be well received in all areas of our society as very important persons, or VIPs. In the years ahead, I ask you to develop a new set of qualities as another kind of VIP.

First, V means Vision. VIPs need a grand vision that will motivate them to interact with other members of society and ultimately shape human history. I ask you to do your best to continue to pursue diverse experiences and develop profound expert knowledge and keen insights during these rapidly changing times.

Next, I represents Innovation. VIPs are those who refuse to accept the status quo and instead choose to make positive changes through flexible thinking and creative means. Interdisciplinary approaches, communication skills, and breakthroughs delivered by restless endeavors to reach the top tier will certainly open new paths for you.

Last, P stands for Perseverance. Standing on the forefront, VIPs will need to take a road no one else has travelled before, and encounter challenges facing humanity earlier than anyone else. You may stumble and fall on that bumpy, rough road. Whenever you see an obstacle, however, please do your best to persevere and stand firm. Use failures as a springboard to take a higher leap until you make satisfactory achievements.

Now, let me introduce to you some pyramidal guidelines for life to pursue happiness and excellence. A pyramid looks like a triangle with a wide baseline and a sharp point on the top. Let us say that the sharp point is the goal of our life, and the triangle represents the efforts we make to attain that goal, all from the bottom to the top.

To stably reach the goal, we first have to lay a solid groundwork for our lives that begins with passion. Whatever we do and whoever we become, passion is the most important driver. Creating a culture conducive to support people’s motivation and aspirations is also essential. I encourage you to lead in building such a culture in our society where creativity and a challenging spirit are promoted and cherished.

Second, be a trusted partner. Looking back at my own personal experiences, I realized that I obtained better results when I valued relationships with the people around me than when I focused solely on myself. Most people want to have good partners. I hope all KAISTians will ask themselves if they are good partners to share achievements with, and if they will always be reliable and trustworthy partners to others.

Last but not the least, try to identify and solve high-value problems. These problems are important because they have a far-reaching impact, not only on the lives of individuals but also on the quality of life for humanity. You will achieve greater growth when you actively take on such problems and work toward solutions, which will require you to demonstrate your capability and passion.

In addition, you must be reliable partners with whom everyone loves to share their achievements. Through the process of finding and solving high-value problems with the best means available to you, you make positive contributions to society.

Our proud graduates!

KAIST will continue supporting you. Be proud of your alma mater and become the best representatives of both your school and your country as KAIST graduates.

Remember that your school is also your second home. With all my heart, I urge you to keep in touch with your advisors, professors, and fellow students to maintain and further develop relationships with them as lifetime companions through mutual appreciation and encouragement, both academically and personally.

I also invite you to express your gratitude for the love and support you have received and to look for ways to make contributions to the progress of your country as well as the global community with your respectful character and outstanding professionalism.

I wish all of you bright futures and continued successes. I congratulate you on your graduation.

Thank you.


KAIST, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea

T. 042-350-2114 / F. 042-350-2210 (2220)

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