Mr. President, Professors, Parents, Fellow Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. I am Julia Zhu from the Contemporary English Literature and Language program [CELL]. It is a great honor to stand here to make this speech.

First of all, I want to congratulate all of us on our graduation. I also would like to take note that two programs: Contemporary English Language and Literature, and Financial Mathematics are having their graduating students for the first time.

However, being a student of language, I also want to emphasize that the word “commencement” does not mean “graduation” but “beginning”. So as to say, the commencement ceremony is a moment leading from the past to the future.

When I was exhausting my mind to come up with a proper topic for this commencement speech, I found that most of the speeches stressed similarly at the future: dream-guarding, risk-taking, change-welcoming, and hard-working. But in recalling the time we spent in college, I realized the real assets for our graduation may lie, at least for me and my fellow graduates, in the past – the experiences we gained in activities, the knowledge we accumulated in our classes, and the connections we built with our friends.

Dear UICers,

In volunteer programs in Cambodia slums, I have been moved by your sincerity and enthusiasm in difficult conditions.

In an international exchange program in America, I have seen the intelligence and the adaptability of the UIC students in a global setting.

In interacting with every program’s academic society, I have learned to recognize your capacity for leadership and your sense of responsibility.

In Dancing Night, Unplugged Concerts, AS drama shows, and Dubbing Competition, I was amazed by your diverse talents and creativity.

These extra-curricular events I mentioned here are just a tip of the iceberg. Along the four years of academic study, we also experienced so much more than just courses and GPA fights.

We endured painstaking efforts when CTV students put together each 24-frame movie.

We preserved integrity when IJ students published every Zhen Zhubao.

We conveyed strong passion when PRA students carried out the daring X-hibition within three sleepless days;

We embodied persistence and patience when TESL students presented long-term projects at an international meeting.

We provided pure motivation when ENV students utilized various methods to raise people’s environmental awareness during the DST week.

We displayed perseverance when ACCT students finished checking every column of endless numbers.

For my own program, we demonstrated creativity and literacy when CELL students crafted writings that were a realization of our own research and original thinking.

Forgive me if I cannot cover all our lovely programs at UIC because there is a limited time and because I have a limited memory.

In no time, you and I will be taking off these burning gowns that make us crazily sweat right now, and steps out of the puzzle-like building of UIC; instead, we will be dressing the invisible gown of the bachelor’s degrees of UIC and starting real life in a complex society. Surely, we will have excitement and confusion, prospect and uncertainty – the job, the graduate school, the gap year, the marriage, and the children. They are all challenges and opportunities. However, I hope all of us can cherish the four years’ memory in UIC, and make the most use of the qualities and talents we gained in the past for the future.

Thank you for patiently listening to my humble words and the warmest of wishes in achieving all your future dreams and hopes.