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Student address by Yunji Rosie Kim ’22

Yunji Rosie Kim ’22 delivers the Student Address during Commencement

Student Address
Furman University Commencement
Yunji Rosie Kim ’22
May 7, 2022

What an honor it is to be standing here to represent the Class of 2022.

As many of you know, I am an international student from South Korea, and I started to study abroad in the States when I was 15. Every single time I say bye to my family to leave Korea for the school year, it always causes such emotional struggles. For the first time, I feel the same way about leaving a place that is not South Korea. My new home: Furman University.

Although my time on campus was cut short to only 2.75 years due to the pandemic, Furman is such a special place to me.

While being gone for a year and a half and navigating remote learning with a 13-hour time difference was one of the hardest challenges I’ve had in my life, what kept me going was the people here. Finally coming back for the senior year felt like a true homecoming: all the old friends, new friends, lake walks, sitting in the dining hall for countless hours people watching, and writing SGA emails to our class every single week for the past three years. All these lasting memories in fleeting moments are something I held onto and will cherish forever.

One of my fun daily habits is to make a wish when the clock strikes 11:11. Pre-pandemic, I would always make a wish about doing well on a test the next day or getting all A’s that semester. But the pandemic changed me just as much as it changed everyone else.

Being on a plane to South Korea on March 29th of 2020 was my first near-death experience. I will never forget praying on that flight: “God, please let me survive this and see my family one last time before I die.”

At this point, I was certain I would die. While it sounds dramatic looking back, I assure you, I was terrified of dying of this unknown virus without seeing my parents and sister. At that moment, I thought to myself: how foolish have I been to wish for such trivial things each day?

On that plane, like being on a death bed, what flashed through my mind was not the studying or numerous applications written during the late nights in the library. It was memories of people that I love and the laughs, tears, and life I had shared with them.

While we can talk forever about how much the pandemic ruined our lives, I hope we learned to see the light in the darkness. The pandemic gave me the ability to pause and reflect. To connect the dots in my life.

Connect the dots. Think about how you got to where you are now, how your life led you to the present you. How has your past shaped you?

Why do you continue to be on the path you are on now? What do you want your future to be? Ask yourself. “What do I want?” – not “What do others think I should do?”

Between B and D is C: birth, death, and choices in between. There will come a day, before you know it, when your biggest wish is to stay healthy and spend forever with your loved ones. Be present. Be intentional. Be grateful.

My time at Furman would not have been the same without the Furman family: professors and staff members who became my parents away from parents, friends and families who warmly welcomed me during breaks. I want to thank you all truly for making me who I am today. I will never forget you and your touches to my dots.

Lastly, if you will allow me to take a moment to honor my parents who are here tonight all the way from South Korea. They raised and supported me as I built a new home in a different world that they never got to see. They are finally here to see my other home and family and I am so grateful for my two worlds colliding.

I would like to close with a part of Furman Prayer that used to be recited at mass every Sunday.

“We long to progress toward knowledge that becomes wisdom not to use for our own benefit but for yours and a lasting regard for the dignity of human life.”

As we leave the front gates today as graduates of Furman University, we possess the ability to do great things. I cannot wait to see the bright futures ahead for each and every one of you. However, always remember we are also leaving with the power to help someone else build and connect their own dots.

Thank you. Roll Dins!

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