Good afternoon and welcome to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies 2022 commencement ceremony. We consider this our distinct privilege and a blessing for us to be able to join you in this celebration of your triumphs and at the dawning of new beginnings.

For all of us, here, it is a marvelous moment of pride and joy.

I am Manohar Singh, Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. I am joined here by my faculty colleagues, who as your mentors, teachers, and research supervisors, represent some of the best in the world. We are all very proud of your achievements and look forward to many years of celebrating your accomplishments well beyond today’s ceremonies– when the world receives the gifts of your love and kindness, your creativity and knowledge, and your care and compassion.

Beyond the classroom, there are several devoted and committed colleagues at Southern, including my fellow deans, our president and his cabinet, as well as the faculty senate representatives, who have worked steadfastly to support you in nurturing your creativity and expanding your knowledge, in developing your potential to the fullest, and in preparing you for a professionally rewarding and personally enriching career. While our faculty expertise matches that of any world class institution, our passion surpasses all. Our professional staff has an exemplary dedication to promoting student success and wellbeing.

Today’s celebration of your success is a result of your dedication and perseverance, no doubt! I would also like to take this moment to express our appreciation for those who helped lay the foundation with their kindness, love, and support, outside of the classrooms—at home, in your neighborhood, and beyond.

To mothers and fathers, life partners and children, and all friends –you are the keystone of our students’ accomplishments, and we thank you for the immense role you played throughout their journey to realize this achievement.

So, here is to that achievement!

I will leave you with two thoughts:

Your Work….

Know that this day is about so much more than receiving a diploma. It is about your ability to define what life means to you, and how you will choose to shape your future. While earning this degree has been your primary objective for the past few years, life is bigger than the sum of your work hours or the diplomas you hold.

We know you are capable of being among the best and most conscientious leaders in your professions and in your communities — I would urge you to not let your diploma or your profession define you or limit your passion for life — the zeal for living yours and empowering and enabling others to live theirs the way they choose to — with sovereignty and dignity. While at times, work may seem burdensome and life may seem sober… in those moments, let your work inspire and embolden those around you.

I will quote Gibran here, “ …you have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.

And I say that life is indeed darkness ‘save when there is urge,

And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,

And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,

And all work is empty save when there is love;

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another…”

Finally, share in your blessings. Create a world of empowerment alongside your achievements, where you enable others to realize their worth and lead a life of dignity. Give the world the gift of your righteousness, your compassion, your open-mindedness, understanding, empathy, and service;

I will quote Gibran again on giving, “ …and there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; Through the hands of such as these, God speaks, and from behind their eyes, He smiles…”

We feel grateful to you for choosing us as your partners along this journey. We hope you will continue to cherish our bond. May this world embrace you, and may you earn their respect.

I wish you the best in your endeavors as you take the next step in creating your world and making the one we live in better!!