The 139th MIT Commencement ceremony began last week by MIT's Hindu chaplain Swami Tyagananda with an invocation in Sanskrit and English reflecting the large international crowd's spirit.
More than 2,100 students received undergraduate and graduate degrees at the Commencement held on June 3 in Killian Court. "May we come together for a common purpose. Common be our prayer, common our goal," Swami Tyagananda said.
"May the one and the same Divine Reality lead us. May we be granted clear understanding and the courage to pursue the goals of social justice, nonviolence, harmony and peace," he said.
Before his invocation, Swami Tyagananda quoted from Swami Vivekananda to say that education is the manifestation of the perfection already present within human beings.
"Our challenge is to transform knowledge into wisdom, and this is best achieved in an environment that promotes both unity and harmony," the swami said as he recited first in Sanskrit and then its English translation an ancient prayer that invokes harmony.
Commencement speaker Irwin Jacobs, co-founder and CEO of telecom major Qualcomm, described the day as a "great day to graduate." An MIT education is "about the best possible way to prepare yourselves for this very exciting future," he said. Jacobs served on the MIT faculty for seven years after receiving his doctorate in 1957.
President Susan Hockfield congratulated the Class of 2005 for the successful completion of demanding courses of study and challenged them to "put what you have learned here to work for the good of this nation and the world."
Barun Singh, president of the Graduate Student Council, saluted the Class of 2005, echoing themes introduced by Hockfield and Jacobs. "We celebrate the hope and promise of times to come in the world we all share. You have demonstrated the ability to reason. Be open to unconventional solutions. Keep alive your passion and drive. The world needs this, and it waits for you," Singh said.
Rohit Gupta, president of the senior class, presented President Hockfield with the senior class gift, $31,000 for a new student lounge.