On Saturday, June 22nd, the IUJ Class of 2019 Graduation Ceremony was held at the Koidego Cultural Hall in Uonuma. Students from both the Graduate School of International Management and the Graduate School of International Relations joined together to celebrate the culmination of their academic achievements alongside their families, friends, and IUJ faculty and staff.
Introductory remarks from IUJ President Hiroyuki Itami
President Itami started the ceremony by congratulating the Class of 2019 on their outstanding academic achievements. He mentioned that IUJ is a unique place for a number of reasons. Our university is located in a very rural setting, with graduate-level only programs and students from all over the globe. President Itami noted that these unique features make a wonderful setting for cross-cultural communication and learning. He shared his hopes that IUJ is a place our graduating students will want to revisit, both in person and through fond memories of their time here.
Guest Speaker Kiyo Ogushi, IUJ MBA Class of 1992
President and CEO of Fuji Xerox Learning Institute
We were fortunate to have Ms. Kiyo Ogushi attend our graduation ceremony as a guest speaker. Ms. Ogushi is an IUJ alumnus and the President and CEO of the Fuji Xerox Learning Institute. Earlier this year, she also received the prestigious AACSB Influential Leaders award.
The award recognizes outstanding graduates from AACSB-accredited schools, and Ms. Ogushi was one of 33 recipients selected from a pool of nominees from over 800 academic institutions. IUJ was able to formally recognize Ms. Ogushi for her achievements at the ceremony, and students were able to hear words of wisdom from her education and professional career.
Ms. Ogushi covered three main topics in her address to the students:
- Life as a Learning Journey
- Humility and Courage as a Learning Attitude
- The Role of Leaders in the Future
Ms. Ogushi noted that our present era is full of change, complexity, and uncertainty, and to adapt we need to constantly re-develop ourselves through learning and unlearning. She mentioned the importance of a humble attitude as a leader, and that the most competent leaders continually learn and admit when they may not have all the answers. She also noted that in the future, technological advances may see our working environment change drastically, but the best way to predict our future is to create it.
Dean of International Relations Noboro Yamaguchi
Dean Yamaguchi passed on his congratulations to the graduating class of 2019 and thanked those who have supported the students in their academic journeys. He spoke of his pride in all of the graduates but noted that graduation is the start of a new chapter rather than the finish line. Dean Yamaguchi noted that students will have ups and downs in life and that challenges will inevitably occur, but the skills they’ve learned at IUJ will help in managing them.
Dean of International Management Wenkai Li
Dean Li offered his heartfelt congratulations to the graduates and reflected on the journey our students have traveled on. Even with difficulties and challenges during their studies, the 2019 graduating class overcame each and every one of them.
Dean Li noted many recent achievements by Graduate School of International Management, including events and conferences that have enriched our students learning experiences. Dean Li called the names of the three recipients of the very first batch of James Brian Quinn Scholars and congratulated them. One of the James Brian Quinn Scholars, Mr. Er Raqabi, El Mehdi, made the Valedictorian speech for GSIM students.
Dean Li finally called for 2019 graduating class to act as IUJ’s ambassadors and contribute back to their Alma Mater.
After the speeches from President Itami, special guest Ms. Kiyo Ogushi, Dean Yamaguchi and Dean Li, degrees were awarded. Each student was individually called to the stage to accept their diplomas, and once they were all presented the requisite cap toss took place!
International Relations Valedictorian: Mai Linh
Mai spoke to her fellow graduates about her time at IUJ and mentioned our university’s unique and diverse environment, with students from different backgrounds, countries, races, and
religions. She noted that despite these differences, everyone comes together to live and study harmoniously – and more than that, everyone learns from each other and supports one another.
Mai also mentioned a quote from the author Catherine Pulsifer which says “Graduation, a conclusion of one chapter, a beginning of another”. She said that whilst the graduating class are finished with this academic journey, there will be challenges ahead in life – but to get through them, the best thing to do is what they’ve already been doing – putting in the hard work. To quote Mai, “We will work hard, we’ll face challenges, and we’ll solve them because that is what we’ve learned to do at IUJ.”
International Management Valedictorian: El Mehdi Er Raqabi
Mehdi started out by mentioning what ignited his passion to study in Japan in the first place. He’d read a book titled “The Toyota Way: 14 Principles of Management”, and the 12th principle was “Genchi Genbutsu” or “Go and See”. The principle is based on the idea that to truly understand a situation, a person needs to experience it for themselves – and as a result of the JICA ABE Initiative Scholarship, he was able to head from Morocco to Japan just a few years later.
Mehdi spoke of the rich academic environment at IUJ, with plenty of varying viewpoints making class discussions enriching and enjoyable. He also mentioned the social aspect of studying at our university and the events he took part in, including snowboarding, sports tournaments, and connecting with the local community.
He finished by speaking of IUJ as his second home. Mehdi encouraged other students to keep improving the university and requested that the graduating class act as ambassadors for IUJ on a global stage.
Ph.D. Graduate: Yin Yin Mon
Yin Yin Mon addressed the audience as IUJ’s second-ever Ph.D. Graduate, and the university’s first Ph.D. Graduate in Economics.
She noted that studying at IUJ gave her the chance to live in a global village, and this is something that presents a huge opportunity for students. The 2019 graduating class hail from 45 different countries, speak different languages and come from a considerable range of work and life backgrounds. This diversity really showed her that IUJ lives up to being “where the world gathers”.
Yin Yin finished by saying “We came onto campus a few years ago with different backgrounds and different life experiences. We leave this campus today as a collective unit. No matter the school we joined – whether GSIR, GSIM, E-biz or exchange – we are all members of this IUJ community.”
After the ceremony proceedings, a reception was held outside the Koidego Cultural Hall, and students were able to take photos on the picturesque Hibiki no Mori Park grounds. Later in the day, students regathered at IUJ for the annual tree unveiling ceremony. Each year, two new trees are planted at the campus Alumni Forest – one representing the Graduate School of International Management, and one representing the Graduate School of International Relations. The trees growing strong and tall are a metaphor for what we wish for our graduating students in the next chapter of their journeys.
We once again congratulate our Class of 2019, not only for their academic achievements but for enriching our university. We thank everyone who supported them throughout their time here in Japan, came out to celebrate at the ceremony or tuned in to watch the live-stream of the event. We have no doubt that this year’s graduating class will go on to do great things, and we’re fortunate to have been part of their stories.
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