Below is a transcript of remarks by Soomin Jun, MIP '22, at the diploma ceremony for Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy graduates on June 12, 2022.
Thank you, Professor Fukuyama, for the warm introduction. On behalf of my cohort, I’d like to thank you for being an irreplaceable leader, mentor, and teacher during our time at Stanford.
Dear distinguished guests, parents, families, and friends from all around the world. Dear esteemed professors and faculty. And dear my friends and fellow MIP class of 2022.
Good afternoon. And welcome to the graduation ceremony for the MIP Class of 2022!
I am so honored to be here today to congratulate everyone for their fantastic achievements.
I wish to begin by proudly introducing you to my fellow 21 classmates, including myself, graduating today.
We came from very different backgrounds and experiences.
Just to list a few, Chaeri brought years of experience from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Maddy, Dave, Kyle, and Arelena are from the military; some came with a private sector experience, and some, including myself, have worked for development and human rights.
Our interests and passions are also very diverse. Some are interested in understanding the societal impacts of tech platforms; some are passionate about making better policy decisions for good governance, while some people like Cali are tirelessly thinking of creative policies to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
We are from 9 different countries. Chile, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Korea, Kosovo, Myanmar, Peru, and the US.
While each one of us brings unique qualities and interests, what bonded us together as a cohort was empathy and compassion. All of us came here with a dream to make positive changes in this world and to make this world a better place to live for all.
Dear class of 2022. Let’s step back for a minute and bring ourselves back to the Spring of 2020. Do you remember the day you received your decision letter from Stanford?
I didn’t have the guts to see the letter myself, so I insisted my husband, Jay, open the letter in the bathroom. I told him, “don’t tell me the result if it’s negative!” He came out of the bathroom with a smile, and even then, I didn’t believe I had gotten in. It was only when I saw the letter with my own eyes that I started crying tears of joy and called my mom and dad to share the news. But only a few minutes after the moment of joy, I remember how I suddenly became so worried.
I don’t think anyone has forgotten, but that spring was a spring of confusion. Some said a deadly virus was in the air; some said it was just a common cold. Some were wearing masks, and some weren’t. And for international students like myself, when US embassies closed down due to COVID, the chances of getting visas to enter the US seemed quite slim.
The starting point of our journey was full of unknowns and questions.
When we began, the entire first year of the program was virtual. Thanks to Zoom, we got to meet and connect in square boxes, but we certainly missed out on little moments of joy. When you are not able to raise real hands or make eye contact with professors, and when you feel like you are the only one who is constantly confused about what a p-value exactly means and can’t look around the room to find another confused student… It sometimes felt lonely.
But apart from studies, we faced one of the darkest times in history. It was a time of violence and disasters. These weren’t only external events we watched on the news, but those that had a significant personal impact on us individuals. There were racial hate crimes, mass shootings, deadly wildfires, the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, a military coup in Myanmar, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine; all happened in the last two years.
Our goal as international policy students is to become changemakers in this world that needs light. And many of us offered to not just serve as a light but as a fire to fight for a better future.
Within our cohort, we have activists like Me Me. She has been on the frontline, standing up against such tyranny, and is still fighting against the situation in Myanmar. Many of us, like Mikk, are working to improve support for Ukraine, and many others are fighting for democratic values in our own countries. And today, I wish to thank each and every one of you.
We went through a lot in the past two years. And in the midst of all that, my dear friends, we made it. Today, I wish to celebrate us by highlighting our accomplishments as MIP students.
First, after all those study nights outside the EVGR, we mastered econometrics and macroeconomics. This means that we know how to calculate the effect of independent variables on dependent variables and even how much bias omitted variables can impose on policy outcomes. And it also means we can define twin deficits and explain why some economic policies might fail.
Second, we have mastered our own specialties. With various opportunities provided by the MIP program and Stanford, we pursued our interests and passion beyond policy. Some of us, like Janani and Arelena, were able to go to Vienna to explore their policy interests in a different continent. Many of us also did summer internships and sharpened our future career plans.
Thirdly, with immense support from Professor Fukuyama, Professor Weinstein, and Patrick, we were the first cohort to go on a field trip as part of the capstone component. In March, we traveled to DC, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Tunisia, and South Africa.
Lastly, in addition to the wonderful MIP family that already existed, we got two beautiful MIP babies! Brad’s daughter and Kyle’s daughter. And we celebrated two weddings. Congratulations, Dani and Maddy!
None of this would have been possible without the support of everyone here today. As we look back, we must remember our parents, families, and friends who have made this journey possible and supported us along the way. And without the support of the MIP faculty and professors, and without Stanford and every person that makes this institution special, we wouldn’t be here today. So, on behalf of my cohort, I express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to all of you.
Dear Class of 2022, as we leave Stanford today, I wish to end by sharing a few reminders.
Let’s not forget how privileged we have been as a part of the Stanford community and the world’s best policy program. Let’s not forget to humble ourselves and do good for those next to us and our communities.
Let’s make some positive changes. Of course, it will be difficult when it’s just one person doing it. But remember. We are a group of 21 amazing and caring leaders. With our friendships built on solid ground as we endured difficult times together, I am more than thrilled to see the impact we will make together as the class of 2022.
Let’s not forget that we are far more capable of achieving anything beyond anyone’s imagination. Voice up and stand up for your values and ideas. If you are ever in doubt, remember this day.
So now, everyone, please join me in congratulating the graduates of the MIP Class of 2022!