Class of 2024 welcomed to SUSTech at Convocation
Chris Edwards | 09/07/2020

In a gorgeous outdoor ceremony that glittered in the summer evening, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) welcomed the Class of 2024 as members of the SUSTech community. Green Pine Capital Stadium was full of color and sound as the new students filled the socially distanced seats. SUSTech University Council Chairperson Yurong GUO and SUSTech President Shiyi CHEN led members of SUSTech’s leadership team, academicians, heads of departments, and colleges in attending the ceremony.

Faculty and alumni representatives joined the Class of 2024, along with over two hundred exchange students from SUSTech’s partner universities around the world. They came together to write their next page in their story of their lives.

In 2020, SUSTech admitted 1094 undergraduates and 1463 postgraduates. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, 34 international students (including undergraduates and postgraduates) from countries like Portugal, Vietnam, and Malaysia were unable to join the celebrations. The SUSTech community hopes that they, and the rest of the international community, will be able to come back to Shenzhen soon. The 2020 SUSTech Convocation was also broadcast live on SUSTech’s official social media platforms such as Bilibili, Kuaishou, Weibo, and Douyin, as well as on One Shenzhen and Nandu Live.

This year’s presiding officer was SUSTech Vice President and Provost Dongxiao ZHANG. As the honored guests entered the stage, everybody stood for the national anthem. It filled Green Pine Capital Stadium as the flag fluttered slowly in the breeze. The red and gold elicited pride in the young men and women who will soon become the young leaders of tomorrow.

University Council Chairperson Yurong GUO spoke first. She welcomed the undergraduates, postgraduates, international students, and colleagues from partner universities on unexpected exchanges. The Class of 2024 had experienced the most unusual college entrance examination experience in history. Still, it had also filled them with perseverance, perfect for their admittance to SUSTech.

As the 10th batch of students joining SUSTech in its 10th year since establishment, their resolve matched that of SUSTech. The SUSTech community had worked together to embark on the rapid development of higher education reform, unique talent training, and outstanding scientific research achievements. In its pursuit of excellence, SUSTech is continuing to strive towards becoming a world-class university, rooted in China. Its innovative roots in Shenzhen have seen SUSTech continue to explore the modern university system within China. The spiritual pillars of “research, innovation, and entrepreneurship” are intertwined with Shenzhen, seeing both SUSTech and Shenzhen grow together for their mutual benefit. “At present, the world is undergoing major changes unseen in a century. We must strengthen our ideals and beliefs, match our fates with the nation, and work together for our shared destiny.”

She said that in the past, SUSTech actively practiced the innovative Shenzhen spirit with its unique youthful strength. SUSTech has built numerous high-level scientific research platforms to support the needs of Shenzhen’s independent innovation strategy. SUSTech remains closely integrated into Shenzhen’s urban development strategy as a result of its high-impact scientific research results.

In closing her speech, Yurong GUO highlighted university as a new chapter in the student’s lives. She hoped that the Class of 2024 would be responsible members of society as they grow into global citizens with broad outlooks. Their development at SUSTech will see them become leaders for the new era, and she wished them all the best for their time on campus & beyond.

University President Shiyi CHEN followed her. In deciding to come all the way south, he highlighted the extraordinary hardships the Class of 2024 had faced in 2020. He highlighted the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Shenzhen being the same year of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of SUSTech. President CHEN said that the two were entwined through the innovative genes that flowed throughout the area. SUSTech students are instilled with the aura of innovation and entrepreneurship of Shenzhen & SUSTech so that they can create more for society. He said that in this day and age, the only constant thing is change itself. “We must cultivate new opportunities in the crisis and address new challenges in the changing situation.”

As the first batch of SUSTech students to arrive in the 2020s, he had four recommendations for this critical stage in their lives. He highlighted the importance of self-discipline in their study and discovering their paths in life. He also pointed out how to break free of traditional constraints of science & engineering. At the same time, they should continuously look beyond their discipline for new scientific developments. President CHEN hoped that the Class of 2024 would become top-notch creative talents who can connect sensibility and rationality, art and science & technology, intuition, and logic.

At the end of his speech, President CHEN quoted a poem by Walter D. Wintle to encourage the students.

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man;

But sooner or later, the man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can.

He encouraged students to believe in themselves and make ongoing efforts to create a better future for SUSTech.

Assistant Professor Bo TANG (Computer Science and Engineering) spoke on behalf of the faculty. He shared the story of his college days and working with his new classmates. “SUSTech has allowed me to explore the cultivation of innovative talents and participate in the innovative practice of higher education in China.” For the Class of 2024, who are not yet sure about what they want to study, he advised them to act immediately. You can take classes and talk to educators from different majors across SUSTech. Any students can enter a research group of a scholar to take part in cutting-edge research. He hoped that all students would seize the opportunities available to them at SUSTech to become their best selves.

Representing alumni, Dandan YU (Class of 2020, Biology) spoke glowingly of her time at SUSTech and Shuren College. As the first doctoral student of the joint training program between SUSTech and the University of Hong Kong (HKU), she is very grateful to her alma mater for opening up a new road. She believes that attitude is the foundation of everything. Students can fight hard and enjoy comfort, but their ultimate happiness will come from their struggles. All efforts and struggles during their time at university will add innumerable possibilities to their future. “The choices we make at university determine our lives, and how we go about making better choices can influence the number of options in our future.” She hoped that the dreams and expectations of the Class of 2024 could be realized one by one, and they could live without fear or regret.

Ms. Zhan WU spoke on behalf of the Class of 2024. She said she had learned to hone her mind, cultivate patience and exercise perseverance on reflection of the challenges she and her classmates had faced in 2020. The various unexpected difficulties that had appeared throughout 2020 had also increased her independence, helping her prepare for life at university. Now that she was at SUSTech, she understood the SUSTech spirit of “striving for excellence with bold creativity and practical innovation.” She believes that she will cherish her time at SUSTech as she writes her chapter in the history of SUSTech.

The incoming postgraduate students were represented by doctoral candidate Ming YANG (Environmental Science and Engineering). He had previously received his bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University and a master’s degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He said he was deeply attracted by the environment, advanced research equipment, entrepreneurship, and the progressive spirit of SUSTech. “SUSTech is a university where young people come to pursue extraordinary things. I also wanted to come to Shenzhen, an exceptional city. Studying at SUSTech, I will have the opportunity to serve Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area for the next 40 years. I hope that I can break through some of the theoretical and technical problems to contribute to China and the world.”

As SUSTech Vice President and Provost Dongxiao ZHANG closed the ceremony, the crowd stood as one to sing “Ode to the Motherland.” Their dulcet tones rang out over Green Pine Capital Stadium and throughout campus, ringing in the start of the new academic year.

2020, 09-07
By Chris Edwards

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