The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science recently held its summer 2010 convocation
. The joyous ceremony wrapped up with a speech from Sven James
, this year's valedictorian. Over his years with this university, Sven has exemplified the Concordia spirit through his dedication to academics alongside extracurricular activities. On top of being involved in the Concordia community by serving as a teaching assistant, founding the Concordia University Cancer Association, and co-chairing the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference, Sven graduated with a CGPA of 4.11.
A transcript of the speech he delivered to the graduating class of 2010 follows.
Chancellor O'Brien, Mr. Kruyt, President and Vice-Chancellor Woodsworth, Dr. Payette, distinguished guests and participants, fellow students, families and friends, I am pleased to address you today on behalf of the graduating students. Before I begin, I would like everyone to give a round of applause to this year's graduates. We have made it.
Yes, we have made it. Through hour long lines at the campus bookstore, waiting to equip ourselves for the coming semester. Through months of group assignments and team projects, and the conflicts that arose. Through two week examination gauntlets, sleep deprivation, malnutrition and caffeine habits. And through difficult mornings after nights of, lets just call it networking, at the campus bar. And we have gained much along the way. We have forged lifelong friendships and fruitful business partnerships. We have learned the meaning of hard work, and that it isn't always enough. We have learnt how to learn, challenge and question the world around us. And we have become more self aware, discovering our strengths, flaws and passions.
Yes. we have made it, but we could not have made it without the help of so many. Concordia University, and its staff, who have provided the diverse atmosphere in which to learn, play and grow. Our professors and mentors, whose commitment to the exchange of knowledge, and determination to make us not only better professionals, but better people, have helped shape who we are today. Our families, who have sacrificed, and surely have had their share of sleepless nights, so that we may fulfil our dreams of higher education. And our friends, who have been so understanding of us replying to their invitations with "Sorry, I have to study".
Yes, we have made it. Made it into a world that is uniquely human. A world in which we adapt to our surroundings, and should we fail, adapt our surroundings to us. A world in which there are no shortage of problems and good solutions are in high demand. A world that needs great engineers and computer scientists. Right now in the Gulf of Mexico, millions of gallons of crude oil are spilling into the sea daily, causing environmental and social fallout. Engineers and computer scientists are tasked with stemming the flow and repairing the resultant damage. In my own nation of Antigua and Barbuda, an increasing population is causing seasonal droughts to become unbearable. Engineers and Computer Scientists are needed to find economic ways to make the vast supply of salt water surrounding the island available for public consumption. Here in Montreal an intemperate climate can make accommodation, transportation and public safety challenging. And it is Engineers and Computer Scientists who are tasked with continuing to make life in suboptimal conditions possible.
Yes, we have made it, and we are poised to become some of the societal machine's most essential cogs. Yet we must remain humble, for our work is meaningless without the people whose problems we solve. We must be mindful that what we do extends beyond the theory that we have learnt, and the technology that we create. When creating modern transportation systems, we must not forget that the mechanic and kinematic principles are but means, to the end of a more mobile world. In the design of telecommunications networks and devices, we should not allow the Laws of Ohm or Kirchhoff to obscure our view of the centrality of connectedness in a global community. And when developing cutting edge data mining solutions, we must not fixate on the algorithms and technologies used in their production, but on the advantages such systems render upon an ever more data-driven society. And in all we do we should seek to act sustainably and harmoniously, fully conscious of the influence we have on the natural and artificial worlds around us.
So, yes we have made it, but in a few minutes, when we leave the halls of this institution forever, having made it will not be enough. When we wake up tomorrow morning we should not, no, we cannot be satisfied with having made it through what is but the first stage of our adult lives. We need to continue to strive for excellence, to be masters of our crafts and good stewards to our societies. Each day, we must aim to leave ourselves, and the world around us, in a better state when we go to sleep, than it was when we awoke. But at this special instant, this unique point in time, take a moment to relish all you have achieved, for right now, we have made it.
Thank You and Congratulations.