On the morning of June 24, 2023, the National School of Development at Peking University (NSD) held its commencement ceremony for the class of 2023 at Peking University Centennial Memorial Hall. Nearly 1,000 economics undergraduates, as well as master and doctoral students and graduates of the MBA, EMBA, and DPS programs of BiMBA Business School, and family members of the graduates, all gathered together on the campus of Peking University with NSD faculty members to celebrate the grand and solemn commencement ceremony.
Group photo of faculty members and students
At 7:00 a.m., the boulevard leading to the Peking University Centennial Memorial Hall was abuzz with students wearing their graduation gowns. The Class of 2023 NSD graduates, hailing from different programs, as well as those who weren’t able to attend the commencement ceremony before, were guided in an orderly fashion by faculty members and student volunteers into the Centennial Memorial Hall Square, in batches.
In front of the square, the photography team was hard at work, taking pictures, zooming in, and composing the frames, capturing the precious moment of the graduates and teachers congregating in their robes. Members of the graduating class and faculty gathered in their graduation gowns to commemorate the longstanding partnership between teachers, students, and fellow classmates, posing for a commemorative photograph to ensure these fond memories would not be forgotten.
At 8:30 a.m., the Peking University Centennial Memorial Hall erupted in deafening applause, and the NSD faculty and research team entered in an impressive fashion.
The commencement ceremony of the Class of 2023 was declared open when Professor Lei Xiaoyan of NSD, took to the podium to deliver her opening remarks.
Subsequently, the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China resounded throughout the hall, and all students and faculty members stood up and sang the National Anthem.
Speeches by student and faculty representatives and distinguished guests
This year's commencement ceremony addresses and speeches were delivered by the Dean of NSD, faculty representatives, graduate representatives and distinguished guests.
Dean YAO Yang, on behalf of the NSD faculty and administration, extended his sincere congratulations to all the graduates, in particular the inaugural cohort of DPS PhD recipients, for their attendance at the commencement ceremony. Prof. YAO Yang highlighted that having a balanced outlook of optimism and pessimism is essential to achieving success. China is currently standing at a crossroads of the past and the future, where confidence is of utmost importance. Confidence emanates from a positive outlook on the future, enabling one to remain resolute despite any setbacks encountered along the way; accordingly, the optimist will prevail in the future. Meanwhile, graduates must equip themselves mentally to be able to face major challenges, evaluate hardships and devise solutions, since the pessimist excels in the present.
Deputy Dean HUANG Yiping, addressing as a representative of the faculty, said that the novel challenges of uncertainty pose unprecedented hurdles, such as insufficient knowledge and a hazy understanding of career planning, to students’ future development. However, not knowing one’s field well and not having a career roadmap is not something to fret about. It is encouraged that students strive to excel in their current work while unceasingly striving for the career of their dreams. Throughout this period, to be able to seize new possibilities, students must upskill themselves by acquiring knowledge alongside honing various attributes such as study, analysis, execution, and innovation. Above all, having a positive attitude is the most salient thing. He wishes that students will stay rooted in the spirit of NSD such as patriotism and affinity for family, valuing diversity and inclusion, and face the ambiguous future with unflinching fortitude and a willingness to get their hands dirty.
Subsequently, seven representatives from the current graduating class of NSD presented their graduation speeches in succession.
LIU Songrui, a representative of PhD graduates, shared his understanding of the transformation of supervisor’s roles being called "boss" and "teacher": At the time of enrolling in the doctoral program, it was assumed that those who had enough funds for research were called “bosses”, whilst the opposite was labeled as “teachers”. It was only after pursuing his doctoral degree that he understood that being called a ‘boss’ implied that the relationship between teachers and students was one which focused on productiveness, and that students should be reprimanded or swapped out if they were unable to comply with the instructions given by the boss. Whereas the role of a ‘teacher’ implied that teachers ought to guide students based on their abilities and facilitate them in achieving their maximum potential. From this perspective, all teachers at NSD are exemplary as they not only ensure the guidance of their students in finding direction in life, but also constantly foster their sense of awareness to the issues and humanistic concerns that a scholar should have.
PAN Yangyang, a representative of the master's graduates, was the 25th and last master's graduate of NSD, and in his speech, he reminisced the most rewarding experience of studying at NSD: it is not only essential to gain knowledge, but also essential to identify and investigate crucial real issues. Here, we are often asked two questions to measure the value of our research: does it contribute to the understanding and furtherance of the development of China today, and does it contribute to the progress of economics. May all of you carry the lessons, reflections, and fond memories of the teachers of NSD with you as you venture out to the workplace and always hold on dearly to the love in your hearts and never forget your original aspirations.
DING Xuning, a representative of undergraduate graduates, reminded of the three years spent studying in NSD: the serious classes and lively intervals were reminiscent of the times in middle school; the students were a like-minded bunch, helping each other out with sincerity, with a shared interest in economics and burning passion towards the growth of the nation. Although the class size is small, the bonds we have formed were undoubtedly strong and the academic atmosphere is intense. Wherever we may locate to, the friendships, inquisitiveness, and patriotism of NSD students will remain eternal.
YU Mingzhi, a representative of undergraduate double-degree graduates from The School of Health Humanities, expressed his profound appreciation: “NSD endows us with an idealistic atmosphere, charges us with mission and responsibility, helps us gain insight into the real world, and encourages us to contribute to the national society with our energy and expertise.” NSD has widened our horizons as well as bestowed us with knowledge and skills which will be invaluable assets for the rest of our lives.
HUANG Cui, a representative of MBA graduates, summarized his gains and insights from studying at NSD in three sentences: NSD is a spirit of inclusivity, uniting East and West, and inspiring everyone to have a global vision while being mindful of their country; NSD is a transformative experience, with students being reshaped mentally and physically both inside and outside the classroom; NSD is a legacy, urging students to learn, act as one, strive for self-improvement, achieve success for others, and make impactful contributions to society.
LI Guojiang, the representative of EMBA graduates, recollected that the two years of learning and growth were highly rewarding, yet he held the belief that “the significance of EMBA program goes far beyond that”: In addition to the systematic acquisition of knowledge, improvement of professional capabilities, cultivation of innovative thinking and problem-solving awareness, and the collaboration and communication among students, it is also a journey for self-discovery and profound introspection. Through this process, we reconsidered our life goals and ambitions, and reflected on the link between individuals, society and businesses.
WANG Haishan, a representative of DPS graduates, shared three personal insights. Firstly, he suggested striving to do small things with big ambition, to remain motivated long-term with expert-level proficiency and invisible dominance in professional markets. Secondly, he encouraged the united efforts of knowledge and actions and likened the distance between mouth and foot to the greatest distance. As he mentioned, change for the better is often painful. Thirdly, he remarked on the initiatives to confront challenges, leading to more sustainable development.
Finally, distinguished guest MO Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, delivered a video message. Mr. MO Yan first expressed his deep regret for not being able to attend the event in person, and shared an interesting story about visiting Peking University with his father in 1993, recalling the scene when he first became involved with Peking University. He then expressed his understanding of "national development research" as the name implies, and humbly described himself as a farmer's descendant, and offered his insights on the graduation of top talents from NSD: NSD has experienced a momentous growth in the past three decades, cultivating a multitude of remarkable talents. He expects that students will keep making a difference in a variety of sectors both in China and around the globe.
Degree conferment ceremony
Following the remarks and speeches, the graduating students and their families nostalgically remembered their studies in Langrun Garden and Chengze Garden through the screened short film “The Sun Always Shines After the Storm”, and welcomed the grand degree conferment ceremony.
Prof. Lei Xiaoyan ceremoniously declared the commencement of the degree conferment ceremony and, in succession, conferred the degrees of Doctoral, Master’s, Undergraduate, DPS, EMBA, MBA, Economics Double Degree, Economics Minor and other educational programs; the graduates proceeded to the stage one by one to receive the degree certificates, symbolizing their graduation, and took a commemorative photo together with the degree conferring faculty.
At the graduation ceremony, the faculty and research team members of NSD and Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) cooperated to announce the list of graduates, pluck the spikes for the graduates, and Justin Yifu Lin, ZHANG Weiying, YAO Yang, HUANG Yiping, LEI Xiaoyan, XU Jintao, Gordon G. LIU and MA Hao conferred diplomas on the graduates and took commemorative photos together.
Graduation chorus and farewell moment
At the end of the degree conferment ceremony, Prof. LEI Xiaoyan invited all professors to the stage and all graduates rose to sing “Ode to My Motherland”. The bright and magnificent melody was as stirring as the students’ dream of a prosperous future.
When the time for goodbye arrived, the professors and administrative team formed a line and waved a fond farewell to the graduates who passed by one by one. The students were reluctant to say goodbye to their teachers who accompanied them in their study period.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the faculty and research team, staff, and volunteers gathered for a commemorative group photo.
Highlights of the commencement ceremony