By Thiwari Werayasobprasong and Kanda Yaemboonruang
Embracing the New Normal, new graduates attended virtual 135th Graduation ceremony as they were encouraged to apply entrepreneurial mindset and technological knowhow instilled by AIT to build back better the world post pandemic.
17 doctoral, 180 masters and one diploma students were conferred degrees at AIT 135th Graduation ceremony held online on May 28th, 2021. Class of 2021 have overcome challenges and come out strong amidst the resurgence of COVID-19 around the region.
Against the backdrop of uncertainties posed by the pandemic, Graduation Address delivered by Dr. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, urged recent graduates to see that challenges also present opportunities.
“The unprecedented pace of digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic provides you with an opportunity to scale up your solutions and ambitions in the next stage of your career, I urge you to think about how you can develop accessible and affordable digital technology so that they benefit the many and not just the few,” said Dr. Alisjahbana.
With three straight forward messages, Dr. Alisjahbana encouraged AIT graduates to ‘apply a social entrepreneur mindset,’ ‘focus on developing technologies for the benefit of all,’ and ‘embrace the idea of collaboration and solidarity,’ assuring that the United Nations families stand ready to support them through the MOU between ESCAP and AIT.
“With the skills you have gained at AIT along with collaboration and commitment, you can help the world to recover better together. Think big and be innovative and down to earth, I wish you every success and wellbeing,” added Dr. Alisjahbana as she concluded her address.
With Open Arms
Ms. Maria Fe Nuestro Ferriols, also known as Ms. Fe, President of Corelate Inc., delivered remarks as Distinguished Alumni Speaker saluting class of 2021 for having overcome challenges and difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Welcoming the newest alumni, Ms. Fe demonstrated through her speech how AIT graduates have played an integral role globally in structural engineering; energy and environmental setup; information systems, agricultural advancements; disaster management; academic research; and educational pedagogy.
Urging recent graduates of the 135th batch to look for opportunities to grow and to give back, Ms. Fe also shared her personal experience of being an AIT alum.
“After AIT, you will have your own joy in life - in the same way that I look back at my happy memorable months at AIT. You will eventually look back on how AIT has changed and transform you, and always for the better,” said the Distinguished Alumni Speaker.
The New Normal
The 135th Graduation Ceremony was conducted fully virtual for the first time. Broadcasting live from AIT Youtube Channel, Facebook, LinkedIn, and AIT Website – there were over 2000 live views. The 21st century graduates were quick to take screen shots of themselves, as their names and photos appeared on screen, and shared them on social media - announcing their graduation.
Practicing social distancing - AIT President, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vice President for Administration, Vice President for Knowledge Transfer, and School Deans took part in a pre-recording session of the ceremony. Students had their graduation photos taken by the lotus pond – which later were incorporated into the virtual graduation. All was done with the latest technology to keep everyone safe.
Having observed and taken pictures with graduates by the lotus pond, President Eden Woon remarked the sense of joy and accomplishments he could feel from the degree holders in his Graduation Message.
“Having this same joyful feeling is all the more remarkable this year, because it is being felt during an extraordinarily difficult and challenging time which we live in today. You have decided that you will not be robbed of this feeling of accomplishment, and I salute you!” said President Woon as he acknowledged the strength and resilience of AIT 135th graduates.
AIT Recent Grads Share their ‘Next Chapter’
It goes without saying that the academic path is not all roses to begin with, but with the Covid-19 pandemic, the journey has been filled with more obstacles. Nevertheless, through thick and thin, our graduates pulled through. As always the case, the ending of something has a mysterious door to another interesting and exciting journey. We talked to our graduates to find out what lies ahead for them in their next journey in life.
Mr. Raunak Mukhia, an Indian graduate from School of Engineering and Technology (SET)
“My department, the Computer Science and IntERLab provided me with opportunities that helped me grow academically and professionally. The icing on the cake was that I was able to indulge in the areas of my interest. Before joining AIT, I did not have much knowledge in these fields. Now, AIT has given me a foundation and a foothold on which I can begin my career.”
Mr. Raunak has been offered a research associate position at AIT’s Internet Education and Research Laboratory (IntERLab) where he once worked as a student assistant. He added that “AIT has now given me my next chapter after my graduation, but this is a milestone for me. In the future, I plan to do a Ph.D.”
Mr. Jirayu Voharndee, a Thai graduate from School of Management (SOM)
“I was thinking that MBA could enhance my business and management skills for my career in my company, but after 2 years at AIT, I now have more knowledge and confidence, and so I changed my goal. Now what I want to do next is establishing and managing a medical equipment company with my family,” Mr. Jirayu, an engineer-turned-entrepreneur revealed his future endeavor.
Before he started pursuing higher education, Mr. Jirayu had been working as a sales engineer at a company. He realized that management skill was crucial even when he was working in a technical field, “I had a chance to do some plan development and it inspired me to learn more about investment, return on investment, and so on. I was passionately looking for an MBA course both in the country and overseas. I found that AIT is a truly international institute with a strong academic base, and AIT supports students with superb scholarships. My journey in the MBA program at AIT has taught me about management steps and strategies through theories and real-life case studies. AIT has equipped me with critical thinking skills that will help me in anything I decide to do.”
Ms. Angelica Corpuz, a Filipino graduate from School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD)
The Filipino graduate will fly back to her home country in July to continue to flourish the academic quality in the engineering field in the Philippines, “I will be going back to my university and will be handling both lecture and laboratory classes. I plan to carry out collaborative research projects with fellow academicians in the near future. As I was also connected with the university-based technology business incubator (TBI) for technology transfer of research outputs or ideas in the food and agribusiness sector within the region, I would also be willing to render my service should it be needed again. In the future, I hope to be able to pursue my PhD in chemical engineering specializing in electrochemical engineering which I have worked on my master’s thesis,” she explained.
Angelica further added, “For anyone who has dreams, goals and is looking for a memorable experience, AIT is a superb choice if you are looking for a high-caliber international institute with world-class faculty and research collaborators, full and prestigious scholarships, intensive and distinguished graduate programs, internship and post-graduate opportunities through its partner organizations, institutes and industries, a touristy and welcoming host country and cross-cultural friendships or global connections. The AIT wildlife in its eco-friendly, green landscape is an altogether separate adventure in itself, and the accommodations and overall environment is just very conducive to learning.”