Tohoku University held its commencement ceremony today for 4,509 students at Xebio Arena Sendai.
In line with the gradual relaxation of COVID-19 infection prevention measures, the ceremony was held in person and masks were optional. But only graduating students were allowed into the venue.
In his speech, Tohoku University President Hideo Ohno congratulated the 2,341 undergraduate, 1,755 graduate and 413 doctoral students on successfully completing their studies despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.
"There were many restrictions these past three years, but you worked tirelessly on your studies and research despite the challenging environment, so today is a great day," he said. "I would also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to your parents, family members, and relatives who have supported you in various ways and who have also looked forward to this day with great anticipation."
The president then reminded the students that the university's long standing principles of Research First, Open Door and Practice-oriented Research and Education, reflect its belief in the value of diversity, and in putting the results of innovative research to use, for the good of society. He then urged the students to make a positive impact on the world.
The president ended his speech by encouraging everyone to stay connected with the university, wherever the future takes them. "Today is not the end of the relationships you formed at Tohoku University. Our Alumni Association has created a global community for graduates to stay in touch, and more importantly, to help each other in difficult times. You are always welcome here and you will always be appreciated."
Valedictorian Natsumi Shimizu (School of Medicine), spoke on behalf of the undergraduate students. She looked back on her first year at the university when the coronavirus pandemic began and changed "normal life" as she knew it.
"I realized that I could no longer do the things I had taken for granted and anxiously wondered what the rest of my university life would be like," she said. "But thanks to the tremendous efforts of the faculty and staff, holding lectures online, offering practical training in small groups, and research activities with infection prevention measures, I was able to continue my studies and be here today."
Speaking on behalf of the graduate students was Valedictorian Ye Rongling (Graduate School of Agricultural Science) who said that for Chinese students such as herself, Tohoku University is special because of its connection with influential literary figure Lu Xun.
"Almost 120 years ago, Lu Xun came to Tohoku university as a college student and met his esteemed teacher, Fujino Genkuro," Ye said. "Professor Fujino's words and deeds had a profound impact on Lu Xun's life, shaping him into the great man that he became.Today, regardless of nationality, most of us have also been fortunate enough to meet our own Professor Fujino at Tohoku University."
She added that although there are uncertainties and challenges that lie ahead after graduation, "we are armed with valuable knowledge, skills, and experiences gained during our time at Tohoku University, and an awareness of the importance of collaboration, perseverance and adaptability, which will undoubtedly serve us well in whatever paths we choose to pursue."
The President's Award for excellent academic records, the Students' Friendship Association Award for achievements in extracurricular and club activities and the Presidential Award for Outstanding Students, which recognizes winners of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science's Ikushi Award, were also presented.
The ceremony ended with the familiar strains of the school song "Aoba Moyuru Kono Michinoku."
The Public Relations Department joins the president and the entire Tohoku University family in saying congratulations and good luck to the graduating class of 2023.
Tohoku University International PR Section