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The Crisler Center was filled to capacity on Sunday for the winter commencement ceremony. Attendees heard from various figures of the University community, including administrators, current students and alumni. 

Joy Beatty, chair for Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, discussed the transition students face as they become graduates.

“Today marks a special moment for you: A liminal space between your life as a University of Michigan student and a University of Michigan graduate,” Beatty said. 

Beatty encouraged the graduating students to reflect on their time at the University and to use their experiences on campus to aid them in whatever they choose to do next. 

“I encourage you over the next couple days to reflect on why you have decided to pursue higher education,” Beatty said. “You furnished your mind with a strong foundation and, collectively, we need you to contribute your knowledge and participate in significant projects.”

Engineering senior Anam Khan addressed the crowd. Khan said she realized interpersonal skills can be just as important as what she learned in her classes. 

“We were reminded that usability and trust are just as important as wiring and software,” Khan said.

Khan discussed classes she had taken at the University and explained how they helped her think about how her actions affect other people. She encouraged her fellow graduates to consider the impact of their work.

“My hardest course, Mechanical Engineering 382, made me reflect,” Khan said. “Who do our solutions benefit and who do they forget? I challenge you all to ask these questions in your respective fields. You can always find time to consider the thoughts and feelings of those around you, for that is what it truly means to be the leaders and best.”

University President Mark Schlissel discussed his personal thoughts on what students can do on a global scale to reach a meaningful impact. 

“To fulfill our public mission, we must not shrink from our responsibility to promote global stability and peace for all humanity,” Schlissel said. “Doing so would betray our past, our purpose, our potential and our promise.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Hendrik G. Meijer, executive chairman for supermarket chain Meijer Inc., emphasized the importance of adaptation and personal evolution. 

“We know that we should never stop revising,” Meijer said. “The possibility of extinction is always with us and that inspires restlessness. From restlessness comes the impulse to revise, not just as a necessity but as a glorious opportunity.”

Meijer pointed to his own experience with improving the hiring process at Meijer.

“In our business, we’re revising everyday,” Meier said. “We’re working in the shadow of Amazon. A couple of years ago, we were struggling to find team members to staff the stores. Revisions were required, we improved our early pay, added more benefits for team members, increased scheduling flexibility…  now more people are building careers with us.”

Meijer concluded by saying the world is always changing, advising the graduates to reflect and adapt accordingly. 

“We know intuitively that the world changes in dramatic ways,” Meijer said. “We also come to learn that it never changes as quickly as we think. It evolves, instead, through continuing revision.”

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