Yiran Zhou at Commencement 2024

Graduate Representative Yiran Zhou

Dear fellow students, teachers, parents, and all members of the Duke Kunshan family,

Good morning. I am Zhou Yiran from the Master of Management Studies program. It’s a great pleasure to stand here today and celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2024 together with all of you.

Today’s ceremony is very special to me because this is the first official commencement that I have attended since my undergraduate days. Life has a funny way of unfolding – at the very moment my undergraduate ceremony was taking place, I had already begun my journey with the MMS program at Fuqua School of Business. Therefore, this commencement is not just a formality for me; it is my true farewell to my student years, a closure that I’ve long anticipated.

I’ve often wondered: if given the opportunity to speak on behalf of my peers, what words could I share at this significant moment? Today, as I stand before you, I have found my answers. This ceremony marks more than a simple transition; It serves as a bridge between who we have been and who we are becoming. It’s a time to carry forward the lessons and achievements from the roads we have traveled and to boldly set forth on the paths that lie ahead. My friends, let’s carry positivity in our hearts and allow our passions to illuminate the way forward.

I’ve always been someone who likes to praise and encourage myself. In my daily life, every time I accomplish something, I give myself some praise: “Had breakfast this morning? I’m awesome”; “Went to bed early last night?” I’m so self-disciplined”; “Cleaned the apartment today? Wow, I’m really organized.” At this moment, I want to say to myself, “Yiran, you did a great job!” So now, let’s take a moment to adjust our caps and feel our gowns. These are not just simple black polyester suits. After all, we’ve worked hard in our undergraduate programs and some continue to study for a year or two to have the opportunity to sit here, put them on, and celebrate our outstanding achievements together.

Throughout our undergraduate studies, we have all navigated the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, attending remote classes from different corners of the world. Luckily, we have enjoyed full in-person experiences for our graduate studies. Reflecting on our journey at Duke Kunshan and Duke, perhaps everyone has different takeaways: some may recall the nights of struggling for group assignments and the subsequent sense of achievement, some may remember the fun moments participating in activities and the Instagram and WeChat posts to record them, some may vividly remember the exotic local foods which they may never want to try again, and some may think of the people they have built profound relationships with during this journey, some of whom may be sitting right beside now. All the experiences are stepping stones to our current honor and success. Before we leave the campus and explore where to go next, please give yourself some time to praise yourself. We have achieved a stage of success, and we are really great!

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