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Under the Sky: The Class of 2020 joins Peking University Commencement Ceremony online and offline

JUL . 02 2020
Peking University, July 2, 2020: 2020 has been a highly unusual year thus far. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted face-to-face lessons and activities on campus, but the graduating Class of 2020 has shown resilience and strength in the midst of adversity. On July 2, their achievements were celebrated through a special commencement ceremony, marking this unforgettable milestone in their academic journey with joy and inspiration.
 
Graduating students on campus attended the commencement ceremony at 9 outdoor venues, while students off campus watched live broadcasts on various platforms in the comfort of their own home. Before the official commencement, the outdoor venues saw exciting pre-ceremony activities, including choral performances and recitals.

 

 
In the Class of 2020, 1,478 students were awarded with Ph.D. degrees and 5,190 students were awarded with master’s degrees. In addition, 5,545 undergraduates have earned bachelor’s degrees. Peking University will hold two degree-conferring ceremonies specifically for the Class of 2020. One of them will be held during the 123rd Anniversary of Peking University in May 2021, while the other will be held during the next commencement ceremony in 2021. The Class of 2020 can apply to return to the campus and attend either of the two ceremonies. If they are unable to attend these ceremonies, they are still welcome to participate in any of the future degree-conferring ceremonies.
 
Moreover, 1,636 students received the honorary title of “Peking University Excellent Graduate” and 524 students have been nominated for the honorary title of “Excellent Graduate of Universities in Beijing”. Qiu Shuiping, chair of Peking University Council, presented certificates to the representatives of excellent graduates.

 
Qiu Shuiping and the representatives of excellent graduates

Representatives of the Class of 2020 were invited to share their memorable experiences.
 
Chen Yanting, a 2016 undergraduate from Guanghua School of Management, spoke of her experiences in a chess tournament and in solving an economics question, through which she realized the importance of staying composed and concentrating on the matter at hand. She also shared her story of participating in the National Day parade in 2019, where she and her teammates worked tirelessly to ensure a memorable event.
“I was not born particularly smart. I have grown up from being an ordinary student to who I am today. Apart from luck, what benefits me the most is my belief that every step in life matters, and one should focus on getting the small things done. I sincerely hope that all of you can focus on each step in your future, and take that step well,” she said.


Chen Yanting
 
Antonio R. Quiroz Soto, a Mexican student from Yenching Academy, expressed his gratitude towards Peking University for offering him an inclusive platform for knowledge acquisition and opportunities to meet good friends with different dreams and get a real picture of contemporary China. Antonio has been in China since the COVID-19 pandemic and he is also grateful for all the care and support from PKU amidst these trying times.
 
“What I learned at Peking University as a foreign student is not only to know China, but also to realize the value and significance of exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations. In an increasingly complicated and turbulent era, recognition and mutual assistance that transcend geopolitics and serve the community of shared future become ever more necessary,” he said.


Antonio R. Quiroz Soto
 
After hearing from our valedictorians, representatives of faculty members took the stage.
 
Li Liuyi, a medical expert in infection control and prevention at Peking University First Hospital, touched upon her experiences of combatting infection over the course of her career. Li reflected on the challenges she and her fellow medical workers have faced and how the professional community has made efforts to enhance expertise throughout the years.
 
“Success is all about sticking to one’s original aspirations. You may work in a field that is not very popular, rarely talked about, or even known to very few. But, please endure the loneliness and stand the test. Once a decision is made, you must stick to it to the very end,” she said.


Li Liuyi
 
Liu Zhongfan, professor of College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, called upon every graduating student to be a thinker, a doer and a responsible person. Drawing upon his experiences of conducting research on graphene, Liu also motivated students to be active in their future endeavors.
 
“Every one of us has great potential. You are going to find a whole new self when you think positively, practice bravely and dare to take responsibility. The road to greatness is never smooth. I hope you are courageous in creating your own future,” he said.


Liu Zhongfan
 
Distinguished alumni of Peking University also shared their life experiences and delivered words of encouragement to the Class of 2020.
 
Zhong Nanshan is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and head of the National Health Commission’s expert group. He enrolled in Peking University Health Science Center in 1955. As a key figure in China’s battle against the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Zhong emphasized that people's health and safety are always a top priority. He spoke highly of the efforts made by the research and medical teams of Peking University amid the virus outbreak, and shared his advice to the Class of 2020.
 
“PKU graduates should not only hold themselves to strict standards, but also harbor strong aspirations. We must not only have ambition, but also strive for the best in everything we do. With youthful passion and enthusiasm, let us embrace a brighter future,” he said.

Zhong Nanshan
 
Gao Ming enrolled in the Department of Geophysics in 1982. She is director of the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization at Chinese Academy of Sciences and chief commander of the China Manned Space Engineering Program. In her speech, Gao reflected on how China's space industry has progressed rapidly and encouraged us to adhere to the commitment of “serving our country”, adhere to the peaceful mentality of “long service”, and cultivate our “self-confidence and self-encouragement.”
 
“Along with a new chapter of life, you’re about to enter in a more complicated and diversified world. I hope everyone can know yourself objectively and learn to be yourself, while staying away from overweening pride or a sense of inferiority. Remember to face life’s ups and downs with an open mind,” she said.

Gao Ming
 
Indeed, we are sure that these words will benefit our Class of 2020 as they move on to the next stage of their life.
 
Speaking at the commencement ceremony, Peking University President Hao Ping expressed his heartfelt congratulations to the Class of 2020. On the occasion of parting, President Hao shared four of his suggestions:
 
·Be virtuous, inspiring, patriotic and dedicated
·Be mindful of potential dangers while facing challenges
·Be diligent and innovative, and have an inquiring mind
·Be open-minded and inclusive, willing to conduct exchange and mutual learning
 
“The epidemic has also accelerated the process of the university’s transformation. Cloud endpoint backup technologies are profoundly reshaping the forms of education, and universities must shoulder greater responsibility in solving the common problems shared by humanity,” President Hao said.
 
“However, no matter how times change, our mission of talent training will not change, the humanities and scientific spirit will not change, and our responsibility for serving the nation and society will not change,” President Hao said.
 
“We believe the epidemic will eventually fade away, and the close-knit fiber of human society will not be disrupted by the virus. No matter where you are, you should persist in cultural confidence, have a vision and the aspiration to embrace the world, be a qualified messenger of civilizational exchanges, and make necessary contributions to human peace and development,” President Hao said.


Hao Ping
 
Fresh graduates might be faced with more challenges in the job market or in the pursuit of further academic goals. However, the Class of 2020, although spreads across the globe, remains united in tenacious spirit under the sky.
 
Peking University sincerely congratulates all members of our graduating Class of 2020, and wishes you the very best as you move onto the next chapter in your life. It is our hope that you will go forth with strength no matter what may lie ahead, and apply the best of what you have learned at Peking University to build a better future. 
 
Written by: Li Wanqi, Ng Joong Hwee
Edited by: Huang Weijian, Ciara Morris
Photo credit to: Wang Tiantian, Li Xianghua, Cao Qianqian, Qi Liang, Yang Mingfeng, Zheng Junwen, Lv Qidan, Wang Liya, Chen Ping, Liu Zhao, PKU Health Science Center, PHBS, Yenching Academy of PKU