My Graduation Speech

I was selected, by some odd miracle or bureaucratic filing error, to be the graduate representative (卒業生代表) of my university's graduating class. I truly felt like I didn't deserve it because I didn't exactly have the top grades, a normal requirement for these kinds of things. My grades were pretty great, but I was definitely not the class topper.

I thought I was selected from the handful of international students graduating at that time, which made sense because there were really only 20-30 people graduating with me from GIGA. It turns out I was representing the entire graduating class from all faculties of Keio, and I had to give a speech to address them....? Crazy. So that's basically the class president or student representative in any other university's commencement.

In any case, I got to work and decided to give the speech in Japanese, as I would be addressing the entire university, not just the international students.

For those of you who would like an English transcript, here it is.


English Transcript

I offer my deepest gratitude to the President of Keio, faculty, and staff for giving me the opportunity to share this stage with all of you. I am truly humbled to be graduating along with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Today is a special day for all of us. It’s the culmination of all our work and achievements both, in academics and self realization.

I was born and raised in New Delhi, India to an Indian mother and a Japanese father. I arrived in Japan in 2016 to start at Keio, but I had no will to pursue academics. My dream was to play music in a band and work in the music industry. Adjusting to life in Japan was not easy. I lived in a small shabby apartment and struggled financially. I applied for a scholarship six times and failed each time, despite doing the best I could academically. I had to work several part time jobs to make ends meet but nevertheless I was determined to not give up and make the best out of my situation. A friend who I look up to told me to always keep my doors open to new opportunities. I challenged myself to create something new each day - whether it be creating an artwork, writing a song, or even meeting a new person - I made it a point to make each day of the past four years of my life valuable.

In 2018, I met a professor Dr. Patrick Savage whose work changed my perspective on academic life. I joined his lab where I was able to explore questions such as “Why do humans make music” - questions I had always wanted to answer. Soon I was working on academic papers, going to conferences and even giving talks. I was able to travel to Paris, Bangkok, and London for conferences, all expenses paid for. It was like a dream come true. I am truly grateful for Keio’s kenkyukai system that allowed me to pursue my interests in a non-traditional way. As a result of the skills I learnt at our lab, I was able to apply for jobs that paid better and that I genuinely liked. Quite soon my life began to improve drastically. In April this year, I was finally able to move to an apartment that was bigger and more comfortable. More importantly, I began to see the merit in academia, and decided to continue my studies to graduate school. I was awarded a full scholarship from Yamaha with a stipend, travel money and research grants in order to pursue my master’s at Keio’s Graduate school of Media and Governance. I am proud to announce that I will be starting my studies as a graduate student there this fall.

The freedom fighter Nelson Mandela once said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Twenty years from now, we may not remember exactly what we wrote in our graduation thesis, or what question was on our statistics exam, but I hope that we remember what it was like to work hard for something and overcome it. Kindness, compassion, accepting failure and learning from it - these are all valuable lessons I believe we should carry with us for the rest of our lives.

I am filled with joy when I think of all the incredible things this class of 2020 will achieve in the future. Thank you for allowing me to share my story today, but I would be honored to hear your stories for many years to come.

September 18th, 2020
Graduate Class Representative
Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Hideo Daikoku








自由のために闘った英雄、ネルソン・マンデラは言いました。Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.「自分の成功で自分を判断してはいけない。何度自分が倒れ、また起き上がったかで自分を判断せよ」と。20年後には、大学の卒業論文の内容や、試験の質問ももはっきりと覚えていないかもしれません。しかし「何かに一生懸命になり、それを乗り越えること」は私たちの記憶に刻まれると信じたいものです。 



大穀 英雄