Rector’s Speech in Congregation 2021 (19/06/2021)

Honourable Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, representing the Chief Executive of the Macao SAR and the Chancellor of the University of Macau,

Honourable Chair of the University Council, Dr Lam Kam Seng Peter,

Distinguished Members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Dear guests, alumni, parents, faculty and students,

Good afternoon. Welcome to the 2021 Congregation of the University of Macau (UM), where we will be witness to an important milestone in the lives of more than 1,500 undergraduate students who are graduating this year. On behalf of the university, I would like to extend hereby, my warm congratulations to every student who has successfully completed their studies! My sincere appreciation also to your teachers and parents, who have always stood by you, supported you and guided you!

The year 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the University of Macau. Therefore, graduating in this year is of special significance. Even though we have not yet fully recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, things are moving in a good direction. Dear students, before its return to the motherland, Macao found itself in an economic depression with poor law and order. Graduating in that era, our alumni were faced with a future full of challenges and uncertainties. However, with a positive attitude and a strong will, they have made it to where they are today through unremitting hard work and struggle. Some of them have become important figures in their fields and pillars of the society. Some have also been recognised by the society and decorated by the SAR government for their outstanding contributions and achievements. They are all role models for us. Dear students, we continue to face difficulties brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as well as the changing international dynamics. Nevertheless, these difficulties are only temporary. Our long-term prospects are bright. We should remain positive and optimistic as we move on to the new starting point in life. Here, I would like to share three ideas with you.

First, Pressing ahead fearlessly. The on-going pandemic has impacted the global economy and society, students graduating this year may therefore face challenges in securing jobs. The challenges include a general reduction in the number of jobs available and greater competition than ever. Although things may be somewhat different from what you expected, I trust that you will be able to adapt and actively confront the difficulties and challenges, taking them as a way to gain precious experience. Just as the inspiring words of President Xi Jinping exhort us, ‘Where there is a will, there is more than one way to solve a problem.’ Today, you are about to take your first step into society. You should have faith in yourselves, and also know how to seize and capitalise on the opportunities at hand. After all, even seemingly insignificant opportunities may well be the key to future success. Hazel Huang, an undergraduate alumna of UM, who has established a health technology company in Macao and Zhuhai, has become a successful young entrepreneur. As a fresh graduate, she initially worked at a pharmaceutical company in the Chinese mainland. She did not mind the rather low starting salary. Instead, she took the opportunities her job offered to learn about and understand the development of the pharmaceutical industry, and eventually accumulated a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts. Her success in entrepreneurship was due in large part to her ample experience gathered through entrepreneurship competitions and internships in the mainland, but even more crucial was her perseverance and positive attitude in trying new things.

Second, Aiming high with feet firmly on the ground. In the post-COVID era, technological development and application is expected to progress at a tremendous pace. The international political and economic climate, as well as patterns of social development, may also witness various changes. The youth are adept at accepting new things and adapting to new environments. But one should also have the courage to experiment, adapt and seek progress through innovation. The new era needs dreamers since ‘nothing in this world can be achieved without strong ideals.’ The new era will belong to those who strive since ‘where there is a will, there will be a way.’ Dear students, Zuo Zongtang, a well-known Chinese figure from the late Qing dynasty famously said, ‘Look high, stand firm and travel wide.’ I hope you can be ambitious and far-sighted, while remaining steadfast in your pursuit of dreams and ideals. However, ideals cannot be empty thoughts. Never become giants in thought and dwarfs in action. Plan and act on your goals and ideals. Whether you choose to continue your education or enter the workplace, I hope you can set your goal, work hard, and make real progress towards your goals through persistence. I hope you can navigate this ever-changing environment, unleash your potential, and achieve your life goals.

Third, Seizing opportunities. While the pandemic continues to rage around the world, the Chinese mainland and Macao have almost become the safest places on the earth. Not only is the pandemic effectively controlled, even the economy has begun to show green shoots. These achievements are open for the whole world to see and fully reflect the advantages of our system of governance. This year, the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035 has been officially issued. This shows that the nation will embark on a new journey with more proactive deployment. Dear students, in the prime of your life, you are experiencing profound changes unseen in a century, and participating in the realising of China’s second Centenary Goal and national rejuvenation. I hope you can pay more attention to and better understand the macro-level policies and trends in the nation, develop a big-picture vision, and integrate your personal growth into the development of Macao and the nation. ‘A nation will prosper only when its young people thrive.’ At the dawn of this new period in your life, my hope is that you will become promising young people with a sense of responsibility and the courage to innovate, that you will accept challenges and pursue dreams, and become a contributor to the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework with love for the SAR and the nation.

Dear students, the grave situation at present poses serious challenges, but it is also an once-in-a-lifetime test. I sincerely wish that our students will start a new journey in life with confidence and optimism and pursue their dreams bravely. Congratulations on your graduation and I wish you a bright future. Hope you can come back to visit UM often. I would also like to wish everyone here good health and all the very best.

Thank you!