20190622 graduation speech 1

Good morning, distinguished guests, faculty, family and the graduating class of 2019. My name is He Yutong, Esther from the Culture, Creativity and Management programme. I’m honored to be here to address you all today.

You’ve probably heard many times the phrase YOLO! It is an acronym for the phrase you only live once. I always thought this particular phrase was provoking because its applicable in any situation. As far as we know, we only live once. You only have one life for so many things, one life for so much love, one life for so much heartbreak, one life for all of the ice cream you will ever eat and all the times you tell yourself “you’re never going to eat that much ice cream again”; one life to see the things that you want to see, one life to be the person you want to be.

I’ve tried to live my life by that for the past few years at UIC, I really have tried to push the boundaries of what I’ve been doing in conquering fears, and rising to challenges through numerous different experiences.

To be honest, I was a quite conservative person, I was not the type of person who was willing to try new things. For example, every time I went to the canteen, Oasis, I just ordered the same dish every single meal. Finally, I got jaded, and changed another dish which my friends have already recommended me. The interesting part of the story is that I made some friends in UIC who enjoyed trying anything new. Some like to travel around to experience new countries and cultures, others like to expose themselves to new situations and challenges. They are willing to leave their comfort zone unlike the previous me. In addition, teachers and our programme director, Purrie always inspire us to “be creative and be brave”, as it’s like a catchphrase of our CCM students - not only during our professional life but also our personal life.

It was my friends and teachers who influenced me unconsciously and spontaneously. They made me a brand new person who has the courage and passion to explore unfamiliar environment and situations, then I see new possibilities. I want to thank them all sincerely including our dear presidents and all the parents and families who gave it their all for the last 22 years, thank you!

When I say YOLO, it is not implicit that we students should be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are the best learning experience we could possibly have. YOLO, it’s actually a warning not to dwell on the past. Even if you didn’t shine in university, you’re moving on to newer and different things. Don’t be scared because the future is mysterious, be excited because no one knows what’s going to happen next. Live life the way you want to, take risks, be adventurous, Carpe diem-seize the day. There are many roads to greatness and there are many variations of success.

There is one piece of advice I wish every one of you here would take to heart. It is this, get out of your comfort zone, you have one shot to make it in life, so what’s holding you back, you know YOLO!