Excitement, relief, and non-virtual hugs filled the atmosphere on USC’s main campus Friday, May 13, 2022 to celebrate the graduation of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s master’s students.
As 2022 graduates mark the end of one journey and the beginning of a new chapter, celebrations and commencement ceremonies resumed in-person for the first time in two years.
“The post-COVID world ahead provides the incredible opportunity of an unpainted canvas on which you will be asked to imagine the new engineering and technology innovation, one with an increasingly human-centric focus,” said Dean Yannis Yortsos. “The world impatiently waits for you; and you are ideally prepared for it.”
This year, 1100 students successfully graduated with a master’s degree from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The class of 2022 came from 29 countries around the globe, “including Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China and India,” said Dean Yortsos. “Over 120 of our Viterbi Master’s graduates maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.”
The USC Viterbi graduate degree commencements were split into two ceremonies to accommodate the large number of students and their families.
“This graduating class is the best so far, the best educated, the most representative in our history: about 33 percent of the graduates are women,” said Dean Yortsos.
The first ceremony was held in the afternoon at the Galen Center and the second commencement was held in the early evening at the Shrine Auditorium for computer science and data science graduates.
The Galen Center ceremony speaker was General (Ret.) Ellen Pawlikowski, who served for over 40 years in the military, reaching the rank of four-star general, only the third woman to achieve the highest rank in the Air Force. Pawlikowski, a USC Judge Widney Professor, joined the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 2019.
Pawlikowski’s speech challenged graduates be resilient in the face of life’s challenges.
“If we look back at the last two years, we could focus on all the missed opportunities denied us by COVID 19 protection measures,” she explained.
“But, let me suggest to you that we gained a unique experience that makes us better STEM professionals because of it. You learned one of the most important tools. You learned resiliency.”
Pawlikowski ended her address by urging the graduating class to take a vow to make the world a better place.
“The granting of your master’s degree today comes with responsibility,” Pawlikowski said. “Responsibility to your profession to withstand the high standards of ethics and truth. Responsibility to society to use technology for the betterment of mankind.”
The Shrine Auditorium commencement featured keynote speaker Guru Gowrappan, the former CEO of Yahoo and Verizon Media.
The USC Viterbi alumnus began by telling graduates about the world they’ll be entering as engineers and how increased connectivity, hyper personalization and climate will have the greatest impacts on their careers.
“Engineers are our future’s best hope for addressing these systemic and cultural struggles,” he said. “You must step outside your area of focus to understand how everything works together. If you stay siloed, you’re missing so much of life.”
Next, he talked about building with purpose and finding your passion.
“Whatever you commit to, do it at your highest level so you’ll have no regrets and it will stimulate a work ethic in you so when you do find that passion you will be perfectly conditioned to make the most of it.”
Graduating students also delivered commencement addresses at both ceremonies.
At the Galen event, Patricia Garcia, an entrepreneur, who graduated with a master’s degree in product development engineering, spoke about how embracing an “Engineering+” mindset opened entrepreneurial opportunities for her that once seemed unimaginable.
“My inside the classroom learning at Viterbi has allowed me to build a systems-perspective to collaborate across disciplines and design innovative, human-centered solutions to various 21st century challenges,” Garcia explained.
At the Shrine ceremony, Jaya Rajwani, who served as a computer science senator of the Viterbi Graduate Student Association for the 2021-2022 academic year and graduated with a master’s degree in computer science.
Rajwani spoke about how joining VGSA was monumental in her USC journey and how strong women motivated her to reach her full potential even through the challenges of moving to Los Angeles from her native country, Pakistan, during the pandemic.
“I was not only able to shine professionally, but also made friendships that will last forever,” she said. “What I consider to be the best part about being a Trojan, and I hope you all agree, is the network and support beyond the classroom.”
Dean Yortsos ended his addresses by telling graduates that USC Viterbi equipped them with the best toolkit for the 21st century. He also left the class of 2022 with one final wish.
“Follow your heart and your intuition and reach for the stars,” said Dean Yortsos. “When you reach there, take a moment to look back and you will see a caring and supporting institution that admires you, is proud of you and embraces you for all the wonders you are certain to accomplish!”
Published on May 14th, 2022
Last updated on May 14th, 2022