Taylah Bland '21 at Commencement 2021

May 25 2021

President Hamilton, Chancellor Tong, Vice Chancellor Lehman, Provost Waley-Cohen, faculty, family, friends and classmates. 


(Four years ago 315 newly admitted NYU Shanghai Freshmen both trepidatiously and excitedly gathered together in the auditorium where Vice Chancellor Lehman set us a challenge. He challenged us to speak to someone from another cultural background for at least two hours a day. That advice gave rise to so many newly formed friendships, cultural exchanges, and unique experiences. )

四年前,三百一十五名刚入学的上海纽约大学大一新生既紧张又兴奋地汇聚在礼堂. 在这里Vice Chancellor Lehman向我们发起了挑战。他挑战我们每天至少用两个小时与不同文化背景的人交谈。 你做了吗? 这个建议造就了许多新友谊,文化交流和独特经历。


I still remember exchanging phone numbers with my 新的朋友们 and not being able to distinguish between yi (一) and qi (七). The introduction of yao (一)was nonetheless necessary and revolutionary. 


NYU Shanghai truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A joint China-US university which prides itself on providing a world class education in a supportive and nurturing environment, but also an institution that, I can attest, truly believes in each and every one of its students. 


When describing NYU Shanghai, one word seems to be inextricably linked to our university: “community.” Sitting in Sydney, before coming to NYU Shanghai, I feared that when I went to university I would just be one person in a sea of hundreds. I feared that I would not have an identity. I feared that I would not make close personal connections with faculty and staff. I feared that I would be alone and have no one to share this journey with. I know that a lot of you can resonate with these feelings, however, upon reflecting back, I can wholeheartedly say these initial fears dissipated within the first week of being surrounded by all of you. 


NYU Shanghai has given us all a platform to be the best version of ourselves that we could be. We are known by our names. We have been given all of the tools we need in order to journey successfully into the future, such as global leadership, renewed perspectives, cross-cultural communication, and academic knowledge. Many of these we already had within but were revealed to us through our time at NYU Shanghai. 


This year has been especially arduous for all of us. It certainly was not the picture-perfect senior year that we were all hoping for. But, take a moment to look around you. You are currently sitting, somewhere around the world, surrounded by those who love and support you. You are about to graduate from one of the world’s finest educational institutions and embark on a life filled with happiness, success, and continued growth.  




Whether you realize it or not, each and every one of you have made a significant impact on each other's lives. Whether it be that passing smile in the hallway, conversations in the cafeteria line, answering the WeChat group, late-night study sessions in the library, or your first long trip on the 高铁 along the Chinese countryside, you have made a difference to someone's life. These are the memories that I hope you take with you. 


The Class of 2021 is not just a group of students categorized by our graduation year, we are a family. The sense of community at NYU Shanghai is so strong and so transformative, and each of you, by virtue of your actions, has played a part in shaping this legacy for all the underclassmen to come. Having worked so closely with Student Government this year as President, I know that NYU Shanghai will continue to lead in a positive direction. As a class, I know that we have imparted something very special upon NYU Shanghai. 


My hope is that the Class of 2021 go forth as the global citizens and leaders they are destined to be. Each of you has the power to truly transform the future, take the opportunities that are presented to you and make a difference. 


我要感谢您们中的每一个人,过去的四年因为有你们而完美无缺。 这确实是一次难忘的经历。(I want to thank each and every one of you for making these past four years the very best that they could have been. It truly is an unforgettable experience. )



恭喜2021届。(Irrespective of where we are located around the globe, one thing will always unite each and every one of us for the rest of our lives: We are Shanghai. )


我们做到了。(We did it!)


谢谢 (Thank you)