Caltech's 123rd annual commencement
Written by Lori Dajose
On Friday, June 16, David Lee (PhD '74), chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees, opened the Institute's 123rd annual commencement ceremony with a reminder that discovery is a never-ending process. "Accomplishment and discovery never close the door on inquiry. Rather, they open new worlds to explore," he remarked. "So too does the end of your time at Caltech mark the beginning of new challenges and triumphs in your studies, in your careers, and in your lives among the friends and family with us today."
Lee noted some of the past year's achievements, such as the discovery of a link between the microbiome and Parkinson's disease, the third LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detection of gravitational waves, the creation of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech, and the final flybys of Saturn by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Cassini mission. He also thanked Edward M. Stolper, the William E. Leonhard Professor of Geology and the Carl and Shirley Larson Provostial Chair, for his service to Caltech as provost, as Stolper's tenure comes to a close this year.
The 2017 Caltech commencement speaker was Mae Jemison, an engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut.
"I believe that life is best when we live deeply, and look up," Jemison said to the graduates. "You don't have to go up to space to feel deeply, to feel infinite. If we dig deep we have the ability to do wonderful things."
Looking up, Jemison said, allows us to remember that there is more that connects us than divides us. "Connection to the greater universe is something I hope for you throughout your lives. Never forget to look up and keep the bigger picture in mind. Look up at the sky, the moon, the stars when you need to recharge. Let the gravity of Earth give you a warm hug when you're feeling low. Look up to remember what inspires you. Keep the sparkle in your eyes, keep it long past graduation."
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