University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Stories and

Reflections From A Graduating International Student—2015

Hoa Harry Huynh, College of Science and Engineering, gave the following remarks at the International Student Graduation and End of Year Party on May 1, 2015 at Weisman Art Museum.

I am honored to be here with you all today for the graduation party at the finest school in the world, the University of Minnesota. Congratulations to many of us, the class of 2015! We are at the finish line, and we will be free in just a few more days, hopefully! So don’t party too hard, don’t drink too much, and don’t stop fighting until the last day of finals.

During the past four years as an undergraduate, I never missed a graduation ceremony as a marshal of the College of Science and Engineering, so I thought I would be fine today—or at least, I wouldn’t be too nervous to give a speech. But the moment I walked into this room and saw many familiar faces, friends, families, advisers, and staff members, I am shaking and thrilled to know the fact that the class of 2015 will leave this awesome place to start a new chapter of their lives soon.

I remember my first day at the University of Minnesota in the Fall of 2011. Like many of you here, I didn’t know anyone, didn’t know where to hang out, didn’t know how to communicate using English properly, didn’t know where to get Vietnamese food like the My Quang or Banh Xeo that my mom normally cooked, or anything but the pasta in the dining halls or chicken nuggets at McDonalds in Dinkytown. More than that, I didn’t know how cold is cold. But I did know one thing: I was excited to explore this place!

During my first year, the average grade of the first midterm in my Engineering class was 30/100, and the material was so I hard, I thought it was would be impossible to swallow it. And for a moment, I was in panic and thought I wouldn’t be able to finish those classes or, further, the degree… I thought perhaps this place was just not for me, or maybe I was just not ready for it. But with the help and guidance of professors, tutor centers, ISSS staff, academic advisers, mentors, and the good friends around, I was able to nail down all of my classes.

Second year of my undergraduate, professors still loved to throw sophisticated problems at me and other students, but I was getting better, or, at least, I didn’t freak out anymore, because I knew how to use all of the student resources available on campus.

During my third year in college, I was lucky to get accepted to a Co-Op program, where I worked as a full-time engineer at a global company designing electrical systems for industry air conditioner machines for two semesters. Interestingly, I didn’t apply much of the knowledge and skills that I learned from my courses, but there was one thing that helped me be successful in my work place: my attitude. I love challenges, I’m not afraid to try something new, and I think everything is possible.

Now, in my last year of college, I believe I can solve any problem as long as I put time, effort, love, and passion into it, and I am positive that you all feel the same way. Whenever we see a big challenge—to design a new phone app, build a bridge, find a cure for a disease, or research a better model for the world economy—we don’t think “It is too hard and impossible” anymore. Instead, we take it with a calm and positive attitude, and we know it’s possible to figure it out. There are no limitations but ourselves.

Thank you to the University of Minnesota! More than that, thank you to all the staff, advisers, friends, and families who were always supporting others and myself. The class of 2015 would not be here today without you.

Class of 2015, we all will soon depart to all corners of the world, and there will be difficulties, challenges, and even failures, like what we might have experience in the past four years. But never allow yourself to give up! Whatever obstacles you encounter, find the way over, around, or through them.

Stay hungry! Stay confident! Stay Gopher forever!

Good luck.

Date Published: May 2015