Provost of Georgia State University
Faculty members and staff of the School of Public Health,
Chief Executive Officer at the American Cancer Society,
Family members, guests and supporters,
And fellow graduates,
It is an honor for me as an international student to welcome all of you in this special day, the 2014 public health convocation, and extend warm congratulations.
Please join me to look back two years ago…
You may still remember 2012 was the year when one of the most important events in our history happened. It was when destiny brought us together, made us know each other and united us as an extended family.
To my American friends,
You may still remember the experience of leaving home, which may be because you are from another part of the United States. You might have had to do this with the purpose of starting your academic journey here at the school of public health at Georgia State University.
To my international friends,
We also will never ever forget the mixed feelings we confronted when we had to travel from another part of the world for almost two years leaving behind our parents, brothers and sisters, husbands or wives, and children.
To our families including those who are not here,
You are probably still able to recall when you watched your son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister leave home to achieve their dreams.
To dean Eriksen, faculty and staff members,
You may also still remember how busy you were when we arrived here with so many questions but you took time to welcome us, help us transition, and make this school feel like home.
These sacrifices were painful, and these efforts were arduous of course but we all did it for one dream. A dream to be a public health professional who greatly contributes, serves the people, and makes the world a better place to live.
With this goal, all of us have crafted unique unforgettable stories.
Dean Eriksen/ faculty and staff members may still recall how busy you were when struggling to change the status of our program into a school of public health, to find time to meet with us and help us to solve our problems, to read our papers and to reply to many emails we all sent you.
Fellow graduates, we must all remember the feeling of regret for skipping our friends’ party invitations, and the feeling of sadness for not being able to celebrate our family’s special days just because we had important responsibilities and commitments as students that we had to fulfill.
We also will not forget the nights when we could not sleep soundly as our assignments were not completed yet, and they were still lingering in our minds, or the days when we still had to read many articles and books for the following day’s quizzes, and had to finish several final exams that all had to be submitted at the same time.
As international students, we also will always remember how hard our struggles were to face culture and language barriers. We will never forget the hurt of homesickness we experienced. We will recall how we struggled to manage our feelings and concentration to keep studying when knowing that our family was sick but we could not be there to treat them. We will never forget how well we had to control ourselves when we heard their voices saying how much they missed us.
Our family, you may not forget continuous, sincere, abundant prayers, blessings and support you gave us during our studies. You may also still recall how nervous you were when you knew that we were about to defend our thesis or capstone.
Today, all of us will not forget what we have done has turned into fruitful achievements. Today, all of us will always remember how excited we are to be here to recognize and celebrate our accomplishments even when all who cannot attend this special day are proudly smiling for us from far away. Eventually, we all must realize how strong and great we were to successfully arrive at this point of success. We also should not forget how beautiful our friendship is and how it has grown and developed at this school.
After today, some of us will prepare to continue our education to better equip ourselves, some of us will go back to work to assume higher responsibilities, and some of us will start joining health organizations, where we can serve the nation.
We, international students, also have to say goodbye to all of you, go back to our countries, and make a difference no matter what. We may or may not meet again in the future. However, we will bring this beautiful memory with us, and take good care of the school’s name.
Nonetheless, in this special day, let us promise to each other, this moment.
Let us not forget that we have not completely achieved our dreams. We just finished our preparation. The dreams to serve the people and make the world a better place to live are still awaiting us.
Let us do our best to achieve them. Let us never underestimate our potential and ability to compete nationally and internationally. We will not be discouraged. We will be successful. If one day we feel down or failed, we will have to remember our promises, realize our hopes and support for each other, and move on.
Let us promise to seize the strategic positions and challenging opportunities ahead. Let us carry the name of Georgia State University into the world by assuming the leadership in national and international health organizations, such as the Ministry of Health, the United Nations, World Health Organization, UNICEF, the American Cancer Society, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Let us join with the brilliant leaders who sit in prestigious national and international health organizations’ assemblies where our thoughts and ideas will have power to solve the world’s health problems and serve broader communities.
And let us ask this one last thing from our professors and mentors,
Please continue to grow and develop this school, as one of the leading public health schools that can produce the next generation of public health professionals, who will make significant contributions to the world and society. We understand that our school has just been established. But we believe that with our growth, potential, strategic location in between the Georgia Capitol, the Georgia Public Health Department, CARE International, the headquarters of the CDC and the American Cancer Society, to name just a few, and the strong relationship we have established with them, we will make the best public health school in the nation.
Five, ten, fifteen years from now even from thousands of miles away in different parts of the world where we will be serving people, we will witness the success of each and every graduate here today. We may not be able to stand in front of you at that time to see your happiness and to congratulate you in person but your success will remind us of our time here and will make us happy that we have been a part of each other’s professional journey and lives. This pride will make us affirm, “that person is my friend from Georgia State University.”
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