Congratulations to all those receiving their degrees today. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all graduates.
During the three years since the outbreak of COVID19 began, many of you must have spent your days in anxiety and impatience because you were unable to do the things you had planned to do during your university life. In your studies and research, where face-to-face activities were restricted, things sometimes did not go as smoothly as you had hoped, and you sometimes felt like falling apart.
Nevertheless, it is truly wonderful that you overcame so many difficulties, steadily worked toward your goals, and graduated from this university. We, the faculty and staff, are truly proud of you and send you out into the world with our hearts full of pride. I hope that all of you will have confidence in your time at Yamagata University and in what you have accomplished here, and that you will continue on your own future paths.
Now, there is a question that I am sure you will be asked several times by those around you in your future lives. That question is "What did you learn at university?" What will you answer to this question?
Some may say they studied economics, others may say they learned digital skills. There is no one answer to this question, but I have always said that what I learned in university was how to learn.
In my case, I studied genetics in college, but at that time the PCR technique used in the detection of COVID19 did not exist. About 10 years after I graduated, PCR was put to practical use, and I learned about its principles and applications for the first time when I started using it in my own work. What was useful to me at that time was not the knowledge I had acquired at university, but rather the "way of learning" I had acquired at university. It was the way of learning that you have practiced, which is to understand what the problem is and to find a way to solve it. For you, as for me, the "way of learning" , in other words, acquiring the "ability to learn" is the greatest asset you have gained from the education at Yamagata university.
Today, our society is changing rapidly. Knowledge acquired in school is rapidly becoming obsolete, and the knowledge and skills needed in society are being replaced by new ones one after another. However, no matter what changes occur, we hope that the "way of learning" you have acquired at Yamagata University will enable you to update yourselves and continue on the path you have set for yourselves.
As you begin your new lives, you may find yourselves occupied for a while. Nevertheless, I would like to ask you to always pay attention to what is happening in Japanese society and in the world. While our society is overflowing with uncertain information and diversifying values, global conflicts and divisions are deepening, as evidenced by the war in Ukraine. It is becoming more and more difficult for each of us to decide what we consider to be the right thing to do and what we consider to be the most important thing to do. In the course of your long lives, there may come a time when society as a whole will be forced to make major and irreversible choices. What I expect of you in these times is not to be passive in the face of major changes in society, but to think for yourselves about the future that society needs to move toward, and to do your part toward achieving that future, while building relationships of trust with various people.
In the long course of our lives, we will have many joys, but at times we may also fall on hard times. In such difficult times, please do not try to solve the problem entirely on your own. No matter how turbulent times may be, society is made up of human connections. There is always someone who can help you. Wherever you are, Yamagata University is connected to you through alumni and current students. Yamagata University will continue to support you to lead a fulfilling life.
Here, I would like to make a request to all of you who are graduating or completing your studies. I would like to ask you to report your graduation and completion of your studies and express your gratitude to those who have supported you throughout your university life. You could not have reached this day without the support of your friends, family, and many other people, and I am sure that you could not have done it on your own. In a society that is built on relationships with other people, being grateful to someone is the most important thing to further deepen those relationships.
Even though the economic situation was difficult during COVID19, we received a lot of support from the alumni associations of the various faculties and other people in the community to help support your student life. I would like to remind you all that society has high expectations for you - expectations for a bright future.
In closing, I would like to express my sincere wish that all of you will achieve success in your respective fields, fulfill your dreams, and create a peaceful and prosperous society in the future.
President Tamate Hidetoshi, March 24 2023