Tzu Chi University Commencement Ceremony: Inspiring Graduates to Make a Positive Impact for the Greater Good


On June 3, 2023, Tzu Chi University commemorated its annual commencement ceremony, with a total of 790 graduates in attendance. The diverse cohort included 99 international students, originating from 17 countries and regions. These included France, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In her address to the graduates, President Ingrid Liu likened life to a marathon. She advised the graduates to hold dear the University’s guiding principles of “Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity.” She urged them to stride steadily and collaboratively towards their life goals, inspired by these values.

This year’s graduates have persevered through the challenges brought on by the pandemic-impacted university experience and are at last able to participate in a physical graduation ceremony. 

President Liu articulated that the unseen virus has incited tragedy and loss of life. Further complicating matters, the Ukraine-Russia conflict erupted last year, leading Tzu Chi University to welcome 20 Ukrainian students into its fold.

President Liu emphasized the power of gratitude and heartfelt interactions, suggesting these can dissolve boundaries and discord between individuals, transforming adversaries into allies. Her hope is for everyone to harness the collective strength of many and utilize their influence to promote collective good and widespread benevolence.

Po-Han Shen, a graduate representative from the Department of Communication Studies, actively participated in the Tzu Chi Collegiate Association during his university tenure. His involvement included joining Tzu Chi volunteers in outreach efforts to support impoverished families. He also provided frontline assistance during the 2021 Taroko train accident and the 2022 Taitung earthquakes. As the Association’s president, he spearheaded a fundraising concert for Ukraine. Po-Han’s philosophy is, “Those of us who are safe have a responsibility to extend timely assistance. We should seize every opportunity to give, fostering a communal spirit of care and support for those in need.”

Had Russia not invaded Ukraine, today would mark the graduation ceremony for a Ukrainian student named Dennis. Last year, he had the privilege of being accepted into Tzu Chi University via the Ukrainian Student Assistance Program and pursued studies in the Department of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics. With passion, he shared his heartfelt sentiments, “The significance of peace has become profoundly clear to me. I want to communicate to all, regardless of your identity or purpose, that the world needs you. Embrace the hero within you that you’ve always aspired to be and strive to transcend your limitations.”

President Ingrid Liu and Vice President Jui-Hung Yen, along with faculty members from the Colleges of Medicine, Education and Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences, and the International College, took part in the ceremonial tasseling of all the graduates. They sent the graduates off with a resonant song titled “Reminder,” an anthem of inspiration intended to instill the virtue of spreading love wherever their futures may take them. The graduates reciprocated their gratitude by performing a song called “Gratitude,” thanking their professors for their invaluable guidance. They also shared the stage with Tzu-Cheng fathers and Yi-Te mothers, in performing “The Answer.”

One story that particularly resonates involves Bo-Huan Lin, a student from Malaysia. Following a severe sports injury early in his freshman year, Lin required surgery. His parents were far away in Malaysia, and he was unfamiliar with Taiwan’s medical landscape. Thanks to the compassionate attention of the Tzu-Cheng fathers and Yi-Te mothers, both Lin and his family felt a sense of calm. In Lin’s own words, “We are wanderers far from home, but here we experience the warmth from our Tzu-Cheng fathers and Yi-Te mothers, a support system that students of other universities don’t have.”

Despite the numerous challenges presented by the pandemic, 60-year-old Rui-Heng Chen harnessed this period as an opportunity to pursue graduate studies and ultimately achieve the Academic Excellence Award. Back in September 2020, Rui-Heng’s mother, at the impressive age of 88, embarked on a master’s program in Oriental Languages and Literature at Tzu Chi University. During a freshman gathering which Rui-Heng attended with her, he saw his mother’s excitement for learning.

Rui-Heng, who had a career in the tourism industry in Taipei, found himself facing a downturn in business due to the pandemic. Observing her son’s plight, his mother offered a unique suggestion. “I have learned so much at Tzu Chi University,” she said. “Why not use this time to study together?” Thus, instead of letting the pandemic halt his progress, Rui-Heng decided to transform it into an opportunity for personal growth and education.

After graduating from university, Rui-Heng attempted to enroll in a graduate program but was not accepted. Over 30 years later, he decided to attend Tzu Chi University. He is deeply grateful to his mentors at the institution.

Rui-Heng remarked, “The teaching style here is dynamic and interactive, a far cry from the rigid methods experienced in the past. Nowadays, I can deliver more profound content, while explaining to tourists, and my viewpoints have significantly evolved. Notably, the past two years of studying and taking exams have heightened my resilience to stress and invigorated my spirit.”

This year, international students represent more than a tenth of the graduates. The commencement ceremony was held bilingually, in both Chinese and English. Maisam Ali, a master’s student in Life Sciences who has been conducting ophthalmology-focused research under the guidance of Professor Rong-Kung Tsai, said, “I feel honored to be a student at Tzu Chi University. The advanced facilities here, coupled with many clinical collaborations with Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, have contributed significantly to my learning experience.”

Today was a day of significance and celebration, as numerous parents from Taiwan and abroad participated in the grand event. Dharma Master Cheng Yen offered blessings to the graduates via a video message. Dharma Master Cheng Yen instilled hope and encouragement in the students, urging them to commit to serving humanity. Her wish for everyone was to stride towards a bright future, maintaining a steady and undeviating course in life.

Master De Chen, hailing from Jing Si Abode, imparted valuable advice that resonated with current societal needs. The Master emphasized the importance of gratitude and moral education in today’s world. She advised everyone to cherish and appreciate the guidance provided by their professors and the nurturing received from their parents. Furthermore, the Master encouraged everyone to give back to society, fostering a virtuous cycle of gratitude and contribution.