To our incoming first year and transfer students, I am honored to welcome each of you to Stanford University. Your mind, your heart, and the story of who you are inspire us.
We are so looking forward to helping you spread your wings and fly… and to how your presence will enrich our campus.To all of the parents and family members who are here, thank you so much for entrusting your loved ones to us. We pledge to do our best by them as though they are our own.
In fact, a Stanford sophomore is my own –my daughter Ella.Please know, just as we welcome our students, we welcome all of you to the Stanford family.
Students, as you begin an incredible odyssey of self-discovery and world discovery through academic and extracurricular activities, I am thrilled by the opportunity to share a few thoughts.
First, I want to build on what Alexis just said and to reaffirm that you belong here. And, then I want to challenge you to do three things:
To be curious amidst opportunity.
To be of service to the world;
and To be true to the best you know.
Again, the foremost thing I want you all to know is: you belong here.
Whether you are the first person in your family to go to college, or whether many people in your family have attended college.
Whether you and your family were born in the United States, or in another special place somewhere around the world.
Whether you come from a family of lesser or greater financial means. Whether you are strongly committed to an identity, a group, a faith, a talent, an activity, a political party, a life philosophy—something important … something near and dear to you or whether you are still figuring out a lot of those things.
I want all of you to know: you belong here.
Now, even though all of you belong, this doesn’t mean it will always be easy. We know you are up to the challenges that will come your way, but that doesn’t mean you need to tackle them alone.
Know that we are here for you every step of the way. Ask for guidance and support. Your peers, your RAs, your professors, and the myriad support services around the university stand ready to help.
So, explore and participate in your experiences with confidence, knowing you belong here.
But with this belonging comes a responsibility: that you too will do your part to make Stanford a community that fosters belonging for all its members.
Throughout the university, we know that our strength comes from the diversity of our community and our culture of inclusion of people of all backgrounds, nationalities, races, genders, identities, religions, political views and ways of thinking.
A thriving academic community depends on the free and open exchange of ideas in a culture of mutual respect, even – and especially – if the ideas and perspectives of others don’t square with our own.
So, draw on our diversity. Get to know your peers and members of the faculty from different backgrounds and perspectives, from different regions and countries. They will profoundly enrich your world-view, and you will develop relationships that last a lifetime.
The broadening of your horizons, and the web of relationships you will develop, will be among the most important gifts you will take away from your time here at Stanford.
Now, I want to offer my first challenge. I challenge you to be curious amidst opportunity.
In your own four years here at Stanford, you will have access to extraordinary scholars on the leading edge of every field and discipline: in the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences and engineering; in law, medicine, business, and education; in public service, and in entrepreneurship.
I urge you to take advantage of this breadth, not to focus too narrowly as you choose a field of study.
Now, some of you may already be thinking about choosing something that will be practical and employable after graduation. I can certainly understand that kind of thinking.
In fact, perhaps paradoxically, it is part of why I want to challenge you to embrace adventure, to follow passions, to stretch yourself, and to stay open.
That’s because your best preparation for a rapidly evolving and more globalized world is, in fact, a broad education.
Here is what I wish someone had told me on my first day: Life is lived in chapters. So even as you plan ahead, always keep an open mind.
Now, serving as president of Stanford, one of the great honors of my life, I have the pleasure of encouraging you on your own exciting journey of possibility.
Based on my personal experience, I therefore hope that, beyond getting deep knowledge in the area of concentration you select – in your major – you will also expose yourself broadly to what Stanford has to offer.
As you decide what to focus on, be open to falling in love with the unexpected – new areas of knowledge and paths to discovery.
Ideas, inspirations, experiments, passions, synergies, questions, connections, challenges – these invaluable flecks are the units of discovery.
So, be curious, and go after the opportunities that make your heart sing.
Next, I challenge you to be of service to the world.
Since the founding of Stanford, we have pursued and celebrated excellence, but not for the sake of excellence. We pursue excellence as a means to make the world a better place.
In your years here, we will seek to support you and to help you nurture within you this higher purpose – the betterment of the world.
I invite you to rise to her challenge.
Being true to the best you know means making yourself, your family and our university proud – through your integrity and your courage in personal and academic choices.
Being true to the best you know means taking care of yourself and taking care of others; respecting yourself and respecting others; respecting your body and respecting the bodies of others; holding yourself and one another accountable for preventing sexual violence.
Class of 2021, we know you are an extraordinary class. Enjoy this exhilarating beginning to all of what comes next.
Trust me, you are ready.
Class of 2021, transfer students, families, and friends—welcome to Stanford University!