Congratulations, UIC Class of 2015!
For some students the road to graduation has been long and winding, fraught with numerous obstacles. For others, it’s been short and straight, with hardly a bump. However you reached your destination, you made it. And for that I congratulate you.
I was privileged in March to become your chancellor. The University of Illinois at Chicago is a model of a public urban research institution in the United States. It has a rich history of success in high quality education, and our graduates have gone on to do great things: they include world-renowned authors and musicians, professional athletes, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies, and internationally recognized scientists and physicians. I hope one day to add your name to this distinguished list.
One of the many things that attracted me to UIC is the students. Many of you come from households where English is spoken as a second language, and you’re the first in your family to receive a college degree. UIC students are resilient, and many of you have overcome long odds to succeed.
I recently heard two stories about our students I want to share with you. As you know, Chicago winters can be harsh, and we want to always have our doors open for our students. One day during the recent blizzard a student was scheduled to take a quiz on campus. She normally used public transportation, but due to the inclement weather it was shut down. Not to be deterred, she bundled up and walked for almost two miles to reach campus, completed her exam and then returned home on foot. She didn’t want anything to come between her and her opportunity to receive a great education.
Another story involved a young man presenting his project in preparation for UIC’s Concept2Venture Challenge at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies this spring. The student’s speech was slurred during his presentation, and when he finished and left the room the organizers noticed that he was holding several paper towels in his mouth. They asked the student what had happened, and he replied he had his wisdom teeth removed that morning. But he didn’t want anything to come between him and his opportunity to present the project he worked tirelessly to complete.
We have seen a lot of gloom-and-doom stories about the future of our universities, but I honestly believe that the future is bright for public research universities like UIC and the best days are ahead of us because of our great people in this university.
And the best days are ahead of you. We are honored that you selected UIC to begin your path to success. We have enjoyed having you here and we are thrilled to join you in celebrating your success. Again, congratulations on your outstanding achievement. Please come back to visit anytime. And remember, you are a Forever Flame.
Michael D. Amiridis