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Sep 29, 2023
On Friday, September 15, the Fall 2023 Graduation Ceremony took place. A total of 551 undergraduate and graduate students (representing 64 countries and regions, 434 international students and 117 domestic students) successfully completed their degrees. The ceremony was held at B-con Plaza, where the graduates, guardians, faculty, and staff attended to celebrate their new beginnings. Family and friends who could not attend in person were able to join in the celebration online via YouTube and Facebook livestreams.
At the ceremony, President Haruaki Deguchi sent the graduates off with the following message:
“Congratulations to you all on your graduation. On the occasion of your graduation, I would like to impart three important pieces of advice. First: After today, you will be heading out into this great big world of ours. Once you open that door, you will be faced with a vast and limitless world where at the end of the day, the only person you can rely on is yourself. I hope you will look resolutely to the future and take action to go in the direction you want to go. “Go where nobody has gone. Do what nobody has done.” Second: Never forget how important your friends are. Regardless of nationality or gender, friends who are there for you when you need them are irreplaceable. We may spend our entire lives in search of just one friend. We must also never forget to laugh. Laughter is powerful, it is the only weapon we humans have and at any given time. Third: There are many people around the world you can rely on. Hailing from 166 countries and regions, the people who studied at APU now number more than 22,000, and they are active around the world. What’s more, the APU Alumni Association has 27 overseas chapters. APU is the only university in Japan with such an extensive network. Wherever you may be in the world, if you ever run into trouble, do not hesitate to ask the APU community for help. I am certain we will be able to lend a hand in some way. In closing, may your lives be filled with happiness, and once again, congratulations on your graduation.”
――― You can read the rest of his message here. ―――
APU also welcomed back an alumnus, Morse Caoagas Flores (College of Asia Pacific Studies, Class of 2006), who is the Chairperson of the Alumni Association and works for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Sharing a story about reuniting with another alumna who started working at the UN, he gave the following congratulatory address:
“My dear graduates, I am sharing her story to you for three reasons. First, as your sempai, it gives me immense joy to see one of us reaching his/her goals while leveraging our collective wisdom and experiences to contribute towards the progress of our community. Second, that celebrating our successes, however small they are, helps us stay on track and reminds us of how far we’ve already come in achieving our big goals. Third, that building a career and looking for a job is a full-time job in itself. From tomorrow, you are out of the comfort of APU and Beppu. Your key advantage though is that also from tomorrow, you are going to look at a blank canvas. Don’t be afraid to fill your canvas, paint over it and change your perspective. Remember the lessons from Fathia’s story: you need to determine your life’s purpose; learn what brings you a sense of value; know yourself more than anyone else and know your worth; and treasure your relationships.”
Representing the undergraduate students, this year’s Ando Momofuku Award-winner Karina Viella Darminto (College of Asia Pacific Studies, Indonesia) reflected on her studies at APU:
“I came into APU with a clear goal of making an impact in the education sector through the school system. However, everything changed when I took a class in my 3rd year called “Gender Studies.” There, I first learned about "period poverty," a term that perfectly captures something I have experienced my entire life. This inspired me to create "Support for Sisters," an organization subsidized by APU that aims to make APU a period-poverty free campus. I find it fascinating how a small group of 20 members can alleviate the period anxiety surrounding thousands of students at APU. This made me realize that education can take many forms, even beyond the boundaries of the classroom.”
“I urge today’s graduates to confront them fearlessly and approach times of uncertainty with an opportunistic mindset by considering new skills that would be advantageous to acquire and uncharted career paths to explore. Be adaptable and do not be afraid to explore new possibilities that come with these changes. Our true potential is defined by our unique blend of skills rather than being confined to just one specialization. So graduates, be open to new opportunities, forge your path, and shape your world in a way that has never been done before.”
Then, Karina Dyliaeva (Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies, Russia) took the stage to represent the graduate schools’ students. Considering her student life during the pandemic, she stated:
“For every one of us it began in a time marked by stringent border restrictions and entry limitations due to COVID. We can all remember the stress and anxiety we went through while being unable to enjoy the pleasures of life and study in Japan. Thankfully, we also remember the relief and blessing we felt upon arrival to Beppu and the joy of in-person classes.
I am sure our journey through academia has been a transformative experience for every single one of us. For me, conducting research was the biggest struggle. There were times when I questioned my abilities, when progress seemed elusive, and the weight of anxiety, and fear for the future bore heavily on my shoulders. However, research, as we have discovered, is a journey of uncertainty, frustration, and self-doubt, requiring us to navigate uncharted waters and confront the obstacles we never thought we would encounter.
Fellow graduates, as we take our leave from this institution, let’s carry with us the memories we’ve shared, the lessons we’ve learned, and the friendships we’ve created.”
The ceremony ended with the traditional cap toss and many red caps flew in the air with voices declaring, “We are APU!” The graduates left the venue with smiles on their faces as they set off on the next stage of their journeys.
You can watch the ceremony on APU’s official YouTube channel.