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Selected Speeches

2021 Commencement Address

Writer PR Office Date 2021.02.19 HIT278

Dear graduates!


Congratulations on your graduation!


I am proud of you, as both an alumnus and a senior scientist.


Thank you to Dr. Woo Sik Kim, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, for joining us today.


I’d like to express my deepest respect and gratitude to the parents who have trusted KAIST and supported these graduating students.


Graduates are the most fruitful achievement that a university can produce. I also want to thank our faculty and staff who made our graduates’ honor possible today.


This year’s commencement ceremony has been scaled down due to the pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 has been gradually slowing, but we decided to take extra precautions to protect your health and well-being. Out of the 2,712 graduates, only a small number were invited to attend the ceremony in person. Your understanding is highly appreciated.


Most graduates are watching this ceremony via YouTube. This year’s blended ceremony, attended by graduates in person and remotely, will be remembered for many years to come.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on humanity. The trend has changed from face-to-face to non-contact, from an offline economy to online, and from globalization to protectionism. Although countries are cooperating with one another to overcome this crisis, the gap between rich and poor is growing more severe and the future is even more uncertain. According to the Director-General of the World Health Organization, the effects of COVID-19 “will be felt for decades to come.”


In this age of great transformation, no one stays a winner or loser forever. Given the uncertainty of the future, nations and organizations with a clear vision have a competitive advantage. The futurist Thomas Frey said, “It is our vision of the future that determines our actions today.” By driving innovation under the vision of becoming a Global Value-Creative Leading University, KAIST will be able to enhance Korea’s status as one of the world’s leading countries.


Let me share with you the spirit of C3, through which you will be able to turn this crisis into opportunity, improve your life, and make significant contributions to your organization.


The first C stands for Challenge.

Humanity is experiencing changes at a pace that were not thought possible before. In these ever-changing times, scientists and engineers should be courageous enough to deal with new challenges. Instead of following behind others as fast followers, we should take the initiative and walk down new paths as first movers.


The second C represents Creativity.

The winner takes all in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. You will fall behind in research and development if you do not produce results that are the world’s best, first, or only. Remember to think creatively and pursue innovative ideas as you tackle unprecedented challenges.


The third C stands for Caring.

While ‘Challenge’ and ‘Creativity’ serve as fuel, ‘Caring’ is what truly enables mutual, all-inclusive growth. To become respected leaders in a hyper-connected, horizontal society, it is important to exhibit consideration for others. For this reason, KAIST emphasizes a Caring spirit among its members, so as to foster experts who are capable of C3.


You are the future and hope of Korea. This is not my opinion alone, but a consensus reached among those who are concerned about the nation’s future.


Last December, the Honorary Chairman of Dongwon Group Jae-chul Kim donated 50 billion won to KAIST’s AI Development Fund.


At the ceremony, Honorary Chairman Kim said, “The key to national success in the 21st century is fostering businesses and organizations that specialize in AI. I am confident that KAIST will accelerate the development of AI in Korea.”


It may surprise you to hear that Honorary Chairman Kim has no special affiliation with KAIST. We are honored to have received so many generous donations from those who are not related to us. The main reason behind such donations is that they see KAIST as the future of Korea.


Do you know who will be the ones that must live up to their expectations?


Our graduates, of course.


As you are all aware, KAIST is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The past 50 years saw Korea transform into a better country through economic growth and industrial development. In the next 50 years, science and technology must be utilized for the country to improve in every aspect, including politics, economy, society, healthcare, and security.


KAIST, which propelled the rapid modernization of Korea based on science and technology, is seen as a symbol of hope by many developing countries. We have received numerous requests to open overseas campuses and to share our experiences. Clearly, it is time for KAIST to embark on a new chapter, expanding its vision to serve not only Korea but the world at large.


KAIST plans to transform the COVID-19 crisis into a new opportunity for our university and for Korea. Building on the success of K-Disease Control, we envision joining the ranks of top countries in the fields of medicine, healthcare, and biotechnology.


KAIST does not have a medical college or a general hospital, but its world-leading scientists and engineers are playing a role in K-Bio and the COVID-19 response. Recently, KAIST proposed a new deal for science and technology in response to COVID-19. It is leading the development of science-based solutions and driving innovation in the biomedicine, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. You may have learned from the media that KAIST’s Mobile Clinic Module has shifted the paradigm in COVID-19 treatment.


In the future, KAIST will create new antivirus industries, and pave the way for Korea to advance forward in medicine, healthcare, and biotechnology. Ultimately, we will contribute to the health and prosperity of humanity.


For KAIST to fulfill its mission, you must do your part as individuals. It is time for you to express your gratitude to the country that has supported your education and dreams. As graduates of KAIST, remember it is your duty to practice the C3 spirit of Challenge, Creativity, and Caring at your new workplace or in graduate school in order to live up to the expectations of society.


Dearest graduates,


As your senior, professor, and president, I feel the greatest satisfaction when I hear about graduates who have contributed to the development of Korea and humanity. As you pursue your dreams on the global stage, I encourage you to change the world as a “Global Shaper,” drive innovation as a “Global Innovator,” and push the world forward as a “Global Mover.”


People can change their nationality, but know that academic degrees are for life. If you experience any difficulties in the next stages of your journey, do not hesitate to reach out to your alma mater for help. KAIST will always be there for you, just as a mother cherishes her child.


This year’s commencement is especially meaningful for me. I was appointed as the 16th president of KAIST on February 23, 2017, and met you for the first time on February 28 at the matriculation ceremony. We promised each otheras freshmen and as the first alumnus presidentto do our best for the next four years.


I have done my best to keep my promise, and now my term will end on February 22. I am honored to have witnessed KAIST’s successful closing of the first half-century, and to have laid the foundation for the next 50 years ahead. Of course, the past four years were even more precious because you were all a part of it.


I am proud of you for keeping your end of the promise. Thank you for becoming who you are today. I have high hopes for the bright future that you will be shaping for KAIST and our society.


Once again, I extend my sincere congratulations and give you my deepest blessings for your future endeavors.

Thank you.


February 19, 2021

Sung-Chul Shin
President of KAIST

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