Chancellor Khosla 2018 Commencement Keynote Address

  • Congratulations, Class of 2018! 
  • I am delighted to welcome our graduates, family and friends to All Campus Commencement at the University of California San Diego. 
  • Joining me on the platform are esteemed members of our university – campus and faculty leaders who are as honored as I am to be here with you to recognize your hard-earned achievements.  We are here to celebrate this milestone – your milestone – of graduating from one of the best universities in the world. 
  • We also have graduates here from our very first four-year charter class – the class of 1968.  They are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation from UC San Diego.
  • These are the folks who voted on our school colors – blue and gold.  And they voted on our mascot – the Triton.  They originated the annual Watermelon Drop from Urey Hall, which was actually just part of a physics final back then.  They created campus traditions, student organizations and athletic activities that still exist today.  Let’s give them a big round of applause.
  • As you know by now, our keynote speaker Representative John Lewis is not here with us today.  So I have the pleasure of addressing the Class of 2018.
  • Even though John Lewis is not here, you can still take his message home with you. 
  • His message of standing up for what you believe in.  His message of protecting human rights and securing civil liberties.  His message of dedicating your life to making our world a better place.
  • These are ideals we aim to convey to you – our graduates – as you commence your careers and lives beyond the classroom.
  • So please enjoy the graduation gift from us – John Lewis’s book titled: “Across That Bridge.”
  • Class of 2018 – It is our hope that you always continue to learn.  To question.  To stoke the flame of enlightenment.
  • There is a reason the University of California seal bears the motto: “Fiat Lux” or “Let There Be Light.”
  • As Socrates said: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
  • You can see the seal on the front of your All Campus Commencement program.
  • It features a five-pointed star with rays of light streaming downward.  These rays represent the discovery and dissemination of knowledge.  And the letter “A” represents the “beginning of wisdom.”
  • Why is this important?  Because this seal was designed with you in mind.  Our next-generation leaders, innovators and change-makers.
  • You are the scholars who will tackle our current and future global societal challenges.  And these challenges are complex – challenges like food security, climate change, disease.
  • They will not be solved by one person or one discipline.  They will take teams of people, diverse experts, who will come together, to share knowledge, to offer perspective, to successfully collaborate to make these global challenges non-issues.
  • This is why the light is important.  Light leads to enlightenment… the ideal combination of knowledge, wisdom, compassion, awareness and understanding.
  • Each of these components is vital.  You cannot make an informed decision with knowledge alone. 
  • You must consider the impact to other people and our planet.  You must take into account others’ ideas and viewpoints.   You must be aware of related issues that may not be so obvious.
  • You must use your wisdom… your collection of knowledge, experiences and the employment of good judgment.  You must study each challenge from all sides.  Measure each possible result.  Understand each impact.
  • You must work with people who are different from you.  Who have a different ways of thinking.  Different backgrounds.  Different expertise.
  • It is this type of collaboration, and this type of thinking, that leads to an awakened society.
  • Now more than ever, this light is needed.  The global challenges I mentioned… they are only growing, compounding and becoming more complex.
  • As a university community, as Tritons, it should always be our goal to leave the world a better place – to make it brighter – than it was before we entered it.  Just like those before us, like our Class of 1968, and all of the Tritons in between.
  • The degree you are earning today… it is prestigious, respected and enduring.  And it comes with responsibility.  You are graduating from one of the top 5 universities in the entire world.  You are graduating from a university that is devoted to, and was actually created for, the greater good. 
  • As Tritons, we tackle issues head on.  We question convention.  We pioneer new thinking.  If we see something we do not like, that we feel is not right, we actively work to change it.
  • Let me give you can example: the unfortunate fact is… half of the families across our country cannot afford to send their children to college.  This is unacceptable.  This is a statistic that needs to change. 
  • And we are doing our part to make that change happen.  To pass on the light of knowledge.  To ensure that every bright mind who wants to study at UC San Diego… can.
  • We are providing MORE opportunities to MORE students.  We are increasing access to college.  And we are ensuring our students’ success.
  • Just five years ago, we created the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program, which we affectionately refer to as CASP.  It’s a program for local and high-achieving students from low-income families, particularly from underrepresented communities.
  • We promise qualifying students that if they study hard, get good grades and are admitted to UC San Diego, they can attend this great university tuition-free and debt-free.
  • To date, nearly 1,000 scholars have received the scholarship, including more than 100 who are graduating today.
  • Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a graduation celebration for our CASP students, soon to be alumni. 
  • And one of the scholars – D’Aria Bond – came up to me and she handed me an envelope.  I would like to share with you what she wrote.  It is a poem about how the scholarship has changed her life:

“Let there be light:

Bright, leading and guiding

The knowledge is shining

In all of its might.

What’s better than knowledge?

Like the fresh air grasp

The biggest gifts, a journey through college.

The big hearty family, CASP.

To say: thank you

Will never

No matter how clever

Show my deep gratitude.

Your big heart and your kindness

Not the depth of your soul but the height

Are the best kind of guidance.

Let there be light.”

  • That is why we created this scholarship program.  Not for the thank yous.  But for the stoking of internal fires.  For the transformation of lives. 
  • Our light burns brighter when we help others.  When we work together.  When we share our knowledge.  And now we have passed that knowledge on to you.
  • You are the Tritons who will continue to unlock our world’s mysteries.  You are our future CEOs, artists, inventors, educators, elected officials and scientists.  No matter what you do, you are our beacon of light.  You are our beacon of hope.
  • Use your education to contribute to our world.  Make it brighter.  Transform a life.  Discover a cure for disease.  Invent the next iPhone.  Make history by creating something we cannot even imagine today.
  • And I encourage you to embrace change.  Change is not something to fear.  It is not something to avoid.  And it is not always something we can control. 
  • Change is what helps us to grow, personally and professionally.  Change leads to more opportunities.  One little change can alter the course of our lives forever.  Even change we do not like at first.  So embrace it.  Seek it.  Let it light your inner fire.
  • Before I wrap up, I’d like to acknowledge the people here today who have helped you along the way.  The people who keep your light shining bright. 
  • Parents and family members – you have played a vital role in the success of these exceptional scholars.  Thank you.
  • And to our faculty and academic leadership (many here today)—I say thank you for sharing your knowledge, imparting your wisdom, and guiding our students on their quest to forge their own trails.
  • Finally, I’d like to share an excerpt from the book you received today – John Lewis’ “Across That Bridge”:

“You are a light. You are THE light.

Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light.

Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant.

Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.

Know that the truth always leads to love and the perpetuation of peace. […]

Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness.

Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.

Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time, don't be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.

And if you follow your truth down road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.”

  • Congratulations.  Let there be light.  Now go set the world on fire!