2007 Commencement Valedictorian Speech
Faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious. Emblazoned upon Tommy Trojan’s base, these are the values which define a USC student. Everything we’ve learned these past few years is based on these five core ideas.
First, FAITHFUL. Faithful means a loyalty to the colleagues we work with everyday. Being here today, I realize that many my closest friends are on this stage. And that gets me thinking, I wonder why I have so many friends that are engineers? Maybe it’s because we’ve shared so many classes. Or that we naturally bonded after suffering through the rigors of engineering together. Or maybe . . . we just weren’t cool enough for the business kids. But whatever the reason, I do know that I’ve met some amazing people during my four years here.
However, the loyalty and devotion we’ve shown to our friends, must now be shown to our school. Because though our time here is through, remember we will never truly leave USC. They will hound us for donations until the day we die.
Up next, SCHOLARLY. Without a doubt, the best and brightest on this campus are Viterbi engineers. It has been a privilege and an honor to study alongside such intelligent and passionate individuals. After juggling 18 units of coursework, exploring new subjects with inquisitiveness, and pulling all-nighters while our other non-engineering friends tried in every imaginable way to distract us, we can say we are true scholars.
In the classroom, I’ve learned about fluid mechanics and linear control systems, and how to integrate these ideas to tackle problems. Yet engineering has taught me more than mere equations and the skills we’ve gained in the classroom as engineers give us the potential to do so much more. The possibilities of what we can do with our engineering education are endless.
Faithful, scholarly, SKILLFUL. We proven ourselves in the classroom, yet our skills are not confined to academics. Sure, we can build bridges, launch rockets, and program robots. But as Trojan engineers we possess skills in so many other areas. We are leaders in engineering and campus wide organizations. We are artists and musicians. Mentors, activists, and athletes. We are businessmen and women. We are entrepreneurs.
Next, COURAGEOUS. As USC students we are courageous because so often we are forced to try something new. For most of us, these past four years were the first times away from our loved ones, our pets, and Mom’s home cooking. But it doesn’t end there. Coming to USC is the just the first step. Once here, you must begin to think different. Leave your comfort zone.
Two years ago, I went with 34 of my fellow engineers to study in Rome, a city where we were strangers to the culture, customs, and language. But by taking this chance, we gained immeasurable experiences. We traveled throughout Italy and walked each day to class along the Vatican wall, through St. Peter’s Square.
But you don’t need to fly halfway across the world to witness courage. Take for instance the Viterbi talent show, it takes guts to get up in front of your peers and rap like Uncle Ri.
And lastly, AMBITIOUS. The ambition of a Trojan engineer can change the world. Reach into your pocket. That cell phone you find, it would not be possible without the work of Andrew Viterbi, USC engineer. And our ambition allows us to reach the stars. Before Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, he was just another student walking through the E-quad. Now look around. These are the men and women next in line. It’s just a question when, not if, one of us will have a building with our name on it.
Faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious. These are the values that define us as Trojans. Yet for all the success we’ve had here, it is important to remember that we did not do it alone. And so, from me personally, thank you to the professors who have influenced and pushed me. To Dean Yortsos for allowing me the opportunity to study at a top-notch engineering school. To Dean Yates and Erika for making me feel like a member of the Trojan family from the first day I met you both. To Mr. Viterbi, for your millions and millions of dollars. To my engineering buddies – Katherine, Memo, Vy, and Justin – who were there for me in the times when I most needed their friendship. And especially to my parents and family who have supported and believed in me all these years.
And finally, to all my fellow classmates. You guys have inspired me and really just helped to make my college experience four of the most enjoyable years of my life, four years that I will always treasure. Even after the countless hours of homework, lectures, and studying, the things I will remember most are s’mores around the bonfire at Dockweiler. Disney songs on the drive up to Mammoth. Leinart to Jarrett on 4th and 9. Trojans win again. I’ll remember staying up ‘til 5am in the morning sitting in the middle of the Birnkrant hallways – just talking. And so to my fellow Trojans, my classmates, my friends – best of luck with all your future endeavors.
Congratulations Class of 2007! Fight on.