Center Cityからペン大のあるUniversity Cityへ渡る橋の上には、普段は見慣れない黒いキャップとガウンをまとった学生達の姿が目立つ。母国や地元からこの日のためにやってきた大勢の親戚を引き連れ、神妙な顔つきで歩いていく。
いよいよ卒業マーチが始まる。2年間お世話になったHuntsman Hallから、全米最古のフットボールスタジアムであるFranklin Fieldまで約6ブロック。口ぐちに思い出を振り返りながら、Wharton生達はコホート旗を掲げて4列縦隊で行進していく。
As class president and on behalf of the MBA class of 2010, I want to first thank the faculty, administration and all our parents, families and friends whose support without, we would have not made it to this special day. Thank you.
Today, I want to share with you a story of a young Samurai, whose life story has been a guiding light throughout my 2 years in Philadelphia.
Born in 1852, most of the Samurai’s earlier life was colored by losing struggles against changing times and misfortune. At the age of 17, he undertook a devastating military defeat in the midst of a revolution, suffering the loss of his mother, grandmother and three beautiful sisters. After being released from a year of imprisonment, he dragged his beaten body around the nation for several years in a failing attempt to access higher education. The only job he finally found was that of a private translator at a small local farm. Despite the challenging circumstances, with unwavering determination, he quickly mastered the English language. A few years later, a young entrepreneur sought out his extraordinary talents, and offered to sponsor him to advance his studies abroad, in a country far far away, called America.
The Samurai’s name is Shiro Shiba. And in 1884, at the age of 32, Shiro joined four Americans to form the very first graduating class of the world’s first business school just born in Philadelphia. That school, of course, is the Wharton School. With striking foresight, Wharton’s global mission has been at its core since its day of inception, since a time when there was no internet or not even a telephone, since a time when crossing the pacific meant months of life risking voyages. Shiro returned to Japan to lead a great career in the world of public service, devoting his life to resolving international disputes.
Now, this is not just a story of an old Samurai.
Rather, I believe, it is a story of the Wharton spirit that we all carry to this day.
It is a story of Courage; never being satisfied with the status quo, never giving up in the face of the harshest adversities.
It is a story of Challenge; traveling to new places and meeting new people, pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone to constantly reinvent ourselves.
It is a story of Innovation; adjusting to the new realities of the ever changing world, creating new ideas that would transform others’ lives forever.
It is a story of Duty; a sense of gratitude and owing to all the people who have believed in us and supported us, and following our inner desire to start giving back.
And, it is a story of Leadership; finding our passion and following it, and inspiring and enabling others to do the same.
Today, exactly 126 years later, we stand here on the same seasoned fields of the nation’s oldest stadium, wondering what the world awaiting us outside will be like. During the two years we huddled within the red brick walls of Huntsman, the outer world has transformed dramatically. Conventional values have been challenged, and boundaries between sectors are shifting rapidly. The challenges that await us seem grand, and the expectations we bear sometimes feel overwhelming.
But today, as we walk out of those hallowed gates of Franklin Field, let us all remind ourselves, that we are not the first ones to go down this stony path; that we are not alone, that we are only following the footsteps of generations of brave men and women, like Shiro, who have fought tougher challenges and overcome greater uncertainties. As we head out of this historic stadium, let us proudly carry the Wharton flag, not as a trophy of our past achievements, but as a symbol of the tremendous responsibilities we now pledge to shoulder, to live up to and fulfill each of our destinies.
My fellow graduating class of 2010. The world has been waiting for us long enough. From this day and this place, let us now start writing our own stories. With great courage, by overcoming challenges, through innovation, driven by a sense of duty, let us now lead our way into the future.
Thank you and Congratulations!”