FocusTsinghua University hosts first-ever online commencement ceremony; around 6,600 postgraduates awarded degrees

Tsinghua University held its 2020 commencement ceremony for postgraduate students online on Monday.

In the commencement ceremony broadcast live from in front of the Tsinghua Auditorium, the university awarded degrees to around 6,600 postgraduate students of the class of 2020. 2,138 students have been awarded doctoral degrees, while 4,461 others have been awarded master’s degrees. 

Unlike Tsinghua’s traditional commencement ceremonies, this year’s ceremony did not feature a degree conferring ceremony. However, the university has offered graduating students the opportunity to return to the university to participate in a future degree conferring ceremony. 

The online commencement ceremony was livestreamed world-wide on various media and social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter in both Chinese and English. Students who were unable to return to the university, and their families and friends watched the virtual celebration from the comfort of their own homes.

The university set up outdoor screens at seventeen different viewing points from where in-person participants watched their commencement ceremony while maintaining physical distance standards.

In his congratulatory speech, Tsinghua’s President Qiu Yong, extended his warmest congratulations to all the postgraduate graduates.

“I believe today’s commencement ceremony, held in such a uniquely important period of time, will mean something special to all of you. This moment will leave you with a piece of history and become an unforgettable memory in life,” he said.

Stating that COVID-19 has been a historical test and also a major test in the students’ lives, he expressed his thanks to the graduates for carrying out “cloud-based” experiments, offsite experiments, and completing their thesis with high quality in the face of the pandemic. 

“In the final examination of the pandemic, you delivered an impressive outcome with your courage in taking on difficult problems head-on and bringing forth new ideas through your perseverance and tenacity. Your actions showed the stature of this new generation of Tsinghua people. Dear graduates, you are the pride of Tsinghua,” he said.

He urged the graduates to embark on their new journey keeping a strong sense of social responsibility in their mind. “As Tsinghua people, remain steadfast in your duty to contribute to society, serve the people, seize the day and pursue excellence throughout your lives. Through these fundamental duties, Tsinghua people shine in the great historical course of working towards the realization of national rejuvenation and the advancement of human civilization,” he said. 

Two graduate representatives, Dr. Sun Yue from the Department of Electronic Engineering and Dr. Ivana Todorovic from the School of Medicine delivered their commencement speeches on behalf of the graduating students.

Dr. Sun said the outbreak of COVID-19 across the world has once again made all of us realize that mankind has indeed a shared future, and what he was most proud of was Tsinghua University's world-class sense of responsibility.

“It is Tsinghua University that is a global and open university that brought me the courage to walk out of my comfort zone and my own country,” he said.  

Ivana Todorovic, who is an international student from Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the arrangements made by the university to hold the online graduation ceremony displayed the importance the university gives to its global family.

She urged everyone to play their part in the battle against COVID-19. “In Tsinghua, I played a tiny but necessary role: Staying on campus, studying online, cooperating during temperature checks and respecting social distancing measures,” she added.

The alumnus Ding Xin, who entered Tsinghua in 2001 as the first eight-year medical student jointly cultivated by the Tsinghua University School of Medicine and Peking Union Medical College, and went on to specialize the first-line treatment of critically ill patients, delivered a speech at the graduation ceremony as the alumni representative.

He shared his experience as a frontline doctor in the fight against COVID-19 in Wuhan, as a member of the national medical aid team. He urged the graduates to continue self-improvement in their new journey following the graduation. 

Writer: Sangeet Sangroula
Editor: Lin Yuan, John Olbrich