On June 16, ShanghaiTech celebrated a momentous occasion, as the university's first class of undergraduates graduated, along with the third class of Master's Degree students and the first class of PhD students jointly cultivated by ShanghaiTech University and Chinese Academy of Sciences.
University Council Chairman Zhu Zhiyuan presided over the ceremony, which was held in the ShanghaiTech gymnasium and which was attended by ShanghaiTech University's Governing Board members, university leadership members, faculty committee members, directors of CAS affiliated institutes, government officials, representatives from companies and high schools, and the graduates'family members.
After a video made by the undergraduate class of 2018 shared memories from their years at ShanghaiTech, the ceremony began in earnest. President Jiang Mianheng took to the podium to address the graduating students. He congratulated them on their achievements and then reviewed ShanghaiTech's initiatives to closely link education and research. Jiang urged the students to take responsibility and work to effect positive change, not only for themselves, but also for the nation's development. He told the students how much he appreciated their trust and understanding in choosing ShanghaiTech during its initial stages of development and expressed his pride in all of their achievements. He also expressed gratitude for the support of Shanghai Municipal Government, CAS institutes, faculty and staff, as well as all those who care about the development of ShanghaiTech.
Vice President and Provost Yin Jie, Founding Dean of School of Physical Science and Technology Yang Peidong, Founding Dean of School of Life Science and Technology Lin Haifan and Founding Dean of School of Information Science and Technology Cher Wang respectively announced the names of master degree graduates and bachelor degree graduates of each school. President Jiang Mianheng, Director of CAS institutes and the school deans shook hands with graduates and awarded them their degree certificates.University Council Chairman Zhu Zhiyuan read the names of 2018 President's Award and Shanghai Outstanding Graduates. ShanghaiTech Governing Board Director Xu Kuangdi and members Zhou Xiaochuan, Ding Zhongli, Weng Tiehui and Fu Chengyu awarded the certificates. As each bachelor's degree student walked on the stage to accept their diploma, their photos from 2014 and 2018 were juxtaposed on a large screen behind them.
"That was the most memorable moment, watching each of us walking the stage," said Zheng Weitong, a graduate of the School of Life Science and Technology. "The photos showed so many dramatic changes we've gone through in the past four years." Her parents, who traveled from Taizhou, Zhejiang Province to support her, said they were very proud. "It was a memorable graduation. This is one of the best schools in China and this is their first undergraduate graduation. What an honor," said her mother, Wang Lingfen.
Undergraduate Class of 2018 student representative Qian Lechen shared with students her college experience and encouraged her classmates to choose the road less traveled and get ready for the challenges ahead. “Each of us is living in layers of eggshell. Breaking the shell from the outside is to be hunted by others, but breaking it from the inside means we're growing up," she said.
PhD student Jia Qibo from School of Information Science and Technology also spoke, and called on students to follow the example of pioneers in their respective fields and explore all the possibilities in the world around them.
Assistant Professor from School of Physical Science and Technology Lin Bolin spoke on behalf of the faculty and called on students to contribute to society and consider the well-being of the earth.
Invited speaker Zhao Zhongxian, CAS Academician, Third World Academy of Sciences Academician and China's 2016 Top Science and Technology Awardee congratulated ShanghaiTech on its progress and shared with the audience his study and research experience. He addressed the graduates, saying he expected them to carry forward the tradition and virtues of past generations of Chinese scientists and become ethical and responsible researchers.
In a history-making moment, President Jiang then instructed all the graduates to move the tassels on their mortarboard caps from the left to the right to signify the completion of their graduation.
Then University Council Chairman Zhu Zhiyuan announced the founding of ShanghaiTech's Alumni Association and the graduating class of 2018 became its first members. The crowd was abuzz with activity as all the graduates pulled out their phones to scan the QR code on screen and join the new alumni association's WeChat account.
In return, the undergraduate Class of 2018 bestowed a gift designed by themselves to their new alma mater, a plaque featuring the university tower as a major element and a tree pattern composed of signatures from all 199 undergraduates in the graduating Class of 2018, symbolizing that the students have been nourished by ShanghaiTech and the university has also been enriched by students. President Jiang accepted this valuable gift and the sincere blessings behind it. "I felt the plaque," said Zheng Weitong. "It was super heavy."
After the ceremony, the graduates and their families streamed out into the sunshine and gathered in groups to take photos with each other. Later on in the day, official photos of the graduating class were taken on the green, but students posed for selfies and fun shots throughout campus and in front of metal sculptures reading I Heart ShanghaiTech.
"It was a real honor to walk the stage, a real memorable and important moment in my life so far," said Huang Jiacheng, a new graduate of the School of Information Science and Technology who was taking photos with his family. His mother agreed. "It was a great ceremony. My child has finally grown up."
Ding Peng, a graduate of the School of Information Science and Technology posed for photos with his classmates. "Today has been quite exhausting," he said in the evening, "but indeed a very happy and meaningful day in my life."
ShanghaiTech's first commencement ceremony marks a new beginning for each graduate and also is a major milestone of ShanghaiTech's development as it continues to pursue its vision and work towards its mission of meaningfully impacting Shanghai and China's development.