- 2018 Matriculation Address 2018.02.23
February 23, 2018
Our honored freshman class,
I sincerely welcome each and every one of you to Yonsei University. Congratulations on succeeding in making it here based on your unforgettable years of hard work and perseverance. I would also like to express my respect and gratitude to the parents and people who devotedly supported you all day and night. You all have worked very hard to achieve your goals.
Today’s matriculation is a significant event where you get the chance to reflect on your life, looking back upon the past 20 years and looking forward to planning your future. The world’s leading universities also have unique freshman welcoming events. At one university, the freshman class gathers at twilight to light candles and resolve their ambition and determination for the next four years. Another university holds an Academic Expo for freshman students, inviting faculty members from all disciplines to share opinions and open discussions together.
Today, you will take the Freshman Honor Pledge. As Yonsei students, you will promise to volunteer for others in the spirit of social service and with an open heart, to lead the advancement of academia through creativity and critical thinking, and to respect and be considerate towards other members of the Yonsei community. Throughout the following year, you will be educated at the Residential College (RC), which is the pride of Yonsei. Instead of studying alone in the classroom and the library, you will continuously discuss and cooperate with your colleagues, thus encountering different opinions and new knowledge and enabling yourself to learn and grow on your own. Do not restrict yourself to job specifications. If you create many new friendships you are able to acknowledge the possibility that truths different from what we believe in may exist, thus attaining “intellectual generosity”. The future society will value soft skills such as people skills, empathy, and consideration for others, rather than memorizing techniques or intelligence.
All of you here are super-centennials who will live until the 2100s. By the time you are in your thirties in 2030, about half of the jobs today will no longer exist. Futurists are arguing over the time artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, once predicting the year 2045, and the expected period is gradually decreasing. Knowledge you can easily derive from artificial intelligence will no longer be valued. If you came to Yonsei planning to spend the next four years preparing for job specifications and ultimately receiving a diploma “certificate”, I am telling you here and now that you have come to the wrong university.
I hope that our freshman class will become critical thinkers who ask creative questions rather than intellectuals who answer difficult questions. Creativity is another talent needed for the future society. Look for the fun and interesting, and create your own uniqueness. You will then be able to cultivate your own expertise by the time you graduate. Yonsei University encourages students to promote curiosity by providing research funds; last year we supported 69 student teams from diverse majors and 33 teams produced innovative results. One team created an automatic messaging system for dormitory washing machines that conveniently alerts students when their laundry is done. Students also developed a campus shuttle bus reservation system and an emergency evacuation application. I hope you will challenge yourselves to identify and solve problems around you.
You are now a proud member of the Yonsei community. Here on these campus grounds the famous poem of Yun Dong-ju praising the heaven, wind and the stars was born; here the people fought for the Hangul language during the colonial period; here burned the torches of democracy to protest against dictatorship. The devotion and service passed down from Yonsei University’s founders and graduates prevails as the true spirit of Yonsei. This spirit will remain as the talent only humans can acquire in the age of artificial intelligence.
I wish you a meaningful and rewarding college experience. I hope you will always remember that today’s Freshman Honor Pledge stands as a vow that you will become true Yonseians and ultimately develop as valued talents of the future society. May the love and grace of God always be with you.