Graduation Ceremony at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Insittute of Technology

Rochester, United States

Graduates, friends, families and relatives of the graduates, members of the board of trustees, and faculty and staff members of NTID, I am truly honored to be here today to congratulate the 2007 graduates of NTID. On this very momentous occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words. Graduates, your time here at NTID is almost at an end and you will soon be departing this warm and comfortable nest. It has been 45 years since I graduated from university, but I can still clearly remember the immense anticipation and the touch of anxiety that I felt upon my graduation.

However, I would like you all to know that you have nothing to fear. The superlative education you have received here at NTID has given you the skills and competence to contribute to society and make a difference in the world. I say this with confidence because I know of countless graduates who have gone on to succeed in various industries, as well as contributing toward the betterment of society.

Each time I visit the United States, I am always amazed by the country’s richness in spirit, and I feel this most strongly when I visit RIT. It is quite astounding to know that in no other country in the world is there an institution of this scale where deaf, hard of hearing and hearing students study in the same environment. However, we cannot forget that in the rest of the world, there are still many countries where those who are deaf or hard of hearing are unable to receive even basic education. In fact, there are still some developing countries where no deaf or hard of hearing individual has ever received higher education.

In many of these countries, the majority often fail to understand that, individual ability and potential are not determined by the ability to hear. They are dependent on social structure and on equal opportunity for education and employment. In other words, in these countries, people fail to realize that every individual, regardless of whether they are deaf, hard of hearing or hearing, have the same potential as long as they receive equal opportunity. These misunderstandings are still prevalent in many parts of the world, and we must do whatever it takes to amend them.

I also strongly believe that empowerment of individuals themselves is imperative. Some of you graduating today may go on to work in the field of international development and cooperation. It is my wish that, from this day forward, you will all take off into the world to pursue your dreams, achieve success and become role models, inspiring and challenging the views of those around you. And I will do my utmost to realize my own dream; to create an environment where everyone is given equal opportunity to use his or her abilities to the fullest.

I hope that we can all work together to create a better world. Like my father always said, “The world is one family; humankind are brothers and sisters.”