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2020 Commencement Speech—Student Speaker Qu Gangyi

Dear Dean McConnaughay, distinguished faculty and staff, cherished families and friends, and fellow classmates,

Good morning. It is an incredible honor for me to be speaking on behalf of the Class of 2020.

With all the proudness and gratitude, we are here to celebrate our graduation. Today, we are attending a special commencement ceremony, without tossing of the cap in the air, without turning of the tassel as the tradition goes. Things are a little bit different right now because of the pandemic. However, the significance of graduation to us remains unchanged. Today, we are still starting a new chapter of our lives from here.

If law school has taught me one thing, it would be that when we face something uncertain, always be prepared. I still remember my first class in STL vividly. At the beginning of that class, my professor pull out a seating chart with no warning, and I heard my name being randomly called on. Then, I was overwhelmed by a bunch of questions and expected argue like a lawyer. In that very moment, I realized that the challenging law school journey has been started. To be honest, now I have forgotten about how scared and embarrassed I was. But I clearly remember what the professor said at the end of the class. He said with great emphasis, “please be prepared to be cold called, the golden rule of law school is always being prepared.”

Being prepared was one of the most important lessons I took in law school. And I believe this lesson is equally enlightening to us in light of our current situation. In the face of the uncertain time, we need to be fully prepared now.

We need to be prepared to embrace uncertainties. They say life is always full of challenges and uncertainties. Nevertheless, it is the uncertainty that makes us focus on the great changes in the world. It is the uncertainty that pushes us to think proactively about who we are and who we want to be. It is also the uncertainty gives us a chance to make a difference.

We need to be prepared to fight for what we love consistently. Although the pandemic has deferred the plans of many of us, we cannot and will not defer our lives and our dreams. We may be lost and upset, but we never lose faith and keep moving forward, because we believe the world will eventually be a better place.

We also need to be prepared to hold fast to those precious certainties. Those age-old values cherished by us, like honesty, integrity and kindness, will never fade away. Those basic principles that we have been trying to defend, like morality, fairness and justice, will never be changed. 

Finally, we have to be prepared to bid a formal farewell to our good old days. Say good-bye to case books. Say good-bye to outlines. Say good-bye to assignments. Say good-bye to all of the efforts we have made here. Those days of quiet reading in the library are still gentle like the Mirror Lake, and those truths that were argued and debated in classes are still bright like the May-fourth Tower.

Today’s graduation ceremony represents an offer from our future, and also an acceptance from us to show that we are ready. We are ready to perform this contract concluded with the future, ready to spare no effort to chase our dreams, ready to take our responsibilities in the face of great changes, ready to wave a friendly greeting to the world as a legal professional.

Yes, we have prepared a lot and we are ready now!