The 105-year-old Viterbi School of Engineering fought on brilliantly at its undergraduate ceremony in Archimedes Plaza and at the graduate ceremony in the Galen Center.
Standard bearers Neilsen Bernardo (EE) and Viry Martino (Civil)
“As you prepare to enter the 'real world,' remember that it grows more complex each day, and so do the challenges and opportunities unfolding before you,” Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos told the graduates. “But don’t worry," he continued. “You have studied the right disciplines for your times… and you have been equipped with the best toolkit for the 21st Century.”
Two exceptional Viterbi B.S. diploma recipients, both women, were on the podiums at both the main USC commencement and the Viterbi undergraduate satellite ceremony.
More Viterbi Commencement Stories:
|Photo slide show
|Dean Yannis Yortsos' Remarks|
|An Army officer completes his master's partly from Afghanistan|
|Andrew J. Viterbi Youtube tribute|
|Three Outstanding Ph.D. Theses|
|Honors, honors, honors!|
|Liana Ching, USC Valedictorian|
|Liana Ching valediction|
|A 19-Year Old M.S.Degree Winner|
|Natasha Naik Viterbi valediction|
USC Valedictorian Liana Ching, a chemical engineering major bound for graduate study at Stanford told the packed audience at Doheny plaza first her uneasiness (" Am I grown up now? To which I answered, nope. But I’m about to put on a cap & gown, stand in front of 40,000 people, and pretend."), and then her hopes and dreams.
"We will leave USC filled with new perspective, knowledge, ambition, and satisfaction that could not have been acquired without an openness to change. Aside from all the discrete bits of knowledge, college has taught us to embrace the unknown in order to learn and grow. We have discovered pieces of ourselves that cannot be compromised, which we will carry with us in all our journeys. And though we may wander, not all who wander are lost."
Viterbi Valedictorian Natasha Naik’s speech was preceded by an introduction from the dean detailing undergraduate student honors (see complete list), in which her name was mentioned repeatedly, as a Presidential Scholar, as a Renaissance Scholar, an Archimedes Circle Award winner, an Emma Josephine Bradley Bovard award winner, and as an associate editor of Illumin Magazine.
Natasha Naik, Viterbi valedictorian
At the undergraduate ceremony, commencement speaker Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot whose skill and courage saved the lives of 155 passengers after his plane lost power and crash landed in the Hudson River in January 2009, told students to focus and persevere.
Sullenberger started by talking about two gifts he said he received from his mother, “a lifelong love of reading and of learning. With these gifts,” he said, “you can learn anything.”
Passion is key, Sullenberger said, driving constant improvement. “This is something I have tried to do my whole life: to always make the next flight better than the last one. I challenge you to do the same: make your next design better than your last one.”
Dean Yortsos and Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger
At the graduate ceremonies in Galen Center, the Dean hailed two students who had completed their studies — or at least part of their studies — from afar. Leonardo Gustavo Puecher
Capt. Matthew Smith, M.S., EE. (Jon Vidar photo)
The Dean also saluted the six scholars who received awards for excellence in graduate work.
The three Arete awards recognizing outstanding individual M.S. leadership went to Elea Grotter, who studied Engineering Management, and Alison Lind and Kyle Patterson, both studying Civil Engineering.
The three winners of prizes for exceptional thesis work were Ashok Patel and Jonghye Woo, both in Electrical Engineering, and Jing Jin, in Computer Science.
Don Paul, the graduate ceremony commencement speaker followed a Ph.D. from M.I.T with a 33-year career at Chevron before retiring as chief technology officer in 2008 – and coming to USC, where he is the director of the University of Southern California Energy Institute while also holding the William M. Keck Chair in Energy Resources.
Don Paul: "See problems as opportunities." (Jon Vidar photo)
He went beyond the job description to talk to the graduates about “what makes a great engineer?” and defined it as the ability to be both visionary and practical – to see a promising possibility, and then to actually realize that possibility, “to see the road and figure out how to go down it, to see problems as opportunties.”
“Be a great engineer,” he concluded. “It’s the most important job there is.”