NYU Shanghai Holds First-Ever Master’s Convocation

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May 31 2020

A worldwide audience tuned in on May 31 as NYU Shanghai held its first-ever master’s convocation celebrating 62 graduates of the Class of 2020. Hailing from 9 countries and regions, the inaugural graduates came from 3 advanced degree programs – the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), the Master of Science in Data Analytics & Business Computing (MSDABC), and the Master of Science in Quantitative Finance (MSQF).

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Like the undergraduate commencement which took place on May 29, the ceremony was forced by the COVID-19 epidemic to adopt a virtual format and  stream from the Academic Building. Convocation traditions of the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the NYU Stern School of Business which partnered with NYU Shanghai to offer the  TESOL, MSDABC, and MSQF programs were incorporated throughout the ceremony. 

The Class of 2020, represented by their portraits, then “processed” virtually, followed by welcomes from Chancellor Yu Lizhong and Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman, and a Pronouncement by Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen.

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Joining via video, NYU President Andrew Hamilton congratulated the graduates on being pioneers of their respective path-breaking programs while NYU Steinhardt Interim Dean Pamela Morris noted that the TESOL graduates were “prepared like few others to be a change agent in this new world.” Finally, NYU Stern Dean Raghu Sundaram applauded the MSDABC and MSQF graduates for displaying their “exceptionalism…not only in the classroom, where they performed outstandingly, but also in the extraordinary way in which they adapted to the changed circumstances in which the world found itself post-COVID 19.”

Chancellor Yu noted the convocation signified a new milestone for NYU Shanghai and predicted the graduates would “be the explorers of the new era” and the “bond to connect different countries and cultures around the world.” 

Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman then alluded to the entrepreneurial spirit  of the graduates, acknowledging their “courage to walk a path that no one had walked before.” Lehman referred to American psychologist Angela Duckworth’s observation that “the key to success is not genius; it is tenacity.”

In completing their master’s programs despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, ” Lehman commended the graduates for demonstrating “the grit that will be a hallmark of your success – professional success, and more generally the success that defines a full life, a life well lived.”

Student speaker Xu Siqi MA ’20, delivering her remarks live from the Academic Building, shared treasured memories from her two years in the TESOL program and thanked all the people who helped her and her classmates thrive. “During this program, through the various courses, we have procured new insights and deepened our understanding of multiple angles of language teaching. This has empowered us to better understand the individuals we teach, from both psychological and pedagogical perspectives.”

Xu continued, “I believe that I speak for all of us when I say that our desired traits as teachers are those that we have seen in our professors here. They have demonstrated to us that educating an individual is so much more than simply providing them with information.”

From her home in Beijing, representing the MSDABC and MSQF programs, student speaker Wu Kaiwen MS ’20 said, “Being the first cohort, no one is able to experience what we experienced or feel what we felt. The challenges we overcame and the excitement we shared this year became a part of us and defined who we are.” 

Wu exhorted her fellow graduates, “The path to the future will always be filled with a mixture of sunshine and storm. I hope that no matter what we encounter, we can always be true to ourselves, be creative, maintain our curiosity to the world, and keep in mind that we are never too old to learn.”

Notably, this year’s class included five  NYU Shanghai alumni, with Wu one among them. 

The Class of 2020 are already embarking on careers of distinction. MSDABC and MSQF graduates have accepted offers from Apple, Deloitte, EY, Panda Capital, and Guotai Junan, among others. Meanwhile, TESOL graduates are poised to assume leadership roles while continuing as teachers at their respective schools and other educational organizations.

Professor and Program Director Kentei Takaya presented the 16 candidates for the MA in TESOL degree, Professor Liao Ming presented the 26 candidates for the MSDABC degree, and Professor Christina Dan Wang presented the 20 candidates for the MSQF degree.

Near the conclusion of the ceremony, three student representatives – Xu, Chen Yijie MS ’20 (for MSDABC), and Dai Weiduo MS ’20 (for MSQF) were  “hooded” on behalf of their classmates. Xu’s hood was white, the color worn by Steinhardt students at graduation, while Chen and Dai’s hoods were gold,signifying their  Stern affiliation.

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“The advantage offered by NYU’s location in both Shanghai and New York, and by its intellectual firepower, have made these graduate programs absolutely unique in the world, and by extension that makes you, today’s graduates, absolutely unique in what you have accomplished and what you have to offer the world as you step into the next phase of your lives,” Provost Waley-Cohen said.