Webster Thailand Commencement 2016 | Webster University Thailand

Former United States Ambassador to Rwanda Delivers 2016 Commencement Address

Webster Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016Webster University Thailand Commencement 2016On 8 May 2016, Webster University Thailand hosted its annual Commencement Ceremony at the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa. During the ceremony, 79 students from 21 countries were conferred their degrees in front of the Chairman of Webster’s Executive Council, faculty, staff, fellow students and family members.

The commencement began with a congratulatory speech by Dr Ratish Thakur, Rector of Webster University Thailand. Following his introductory remarks, Dr Thakur invited the Honorable Margaret K. McMillion, former Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda to deliver her keynote address.

As a retired United States Foreign Service officer with over 30 years of experience, Margaret K. McMillion’s career took her across the globe with assignments in Taiwan, South Africa, Thailand, and Laos. Most notably, she was the Ambassador to Rwanda from 2001 to 2004. During her time in Washington, she worked in the Office of West African Affairs, the Office of Korean Affairs, the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Office of Africa Analysis in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.  Her final Foreign Service assignment was as Deputy Commandant for International Affairs at the U.S. Army War College.

Margaret K. McMillion has been associated with Webster University Thailand since 2008, initially as a lecturer in international relations and subsequently as the Coordinator of the Master of Arts in International Relations. Since May 2015, she has been an active member of Webster Thailand’s university council. 

During her address to Webster’s 2016 graduates, McMillion outlined some of the changes in global politics that she has seen and experienced since her high school graduation in 1969. This included the end of the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa and emerging conflicts across the Middle East. She noted that students graduating now are entering a world of opportunity, a world that according to Barack Obama “has never been healthier or wealthier”.

McMillion, a graduate of Eisenhower College, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh went on to talk about the importance of education, both in terms of Webster’s own graduates but also more broadly for everyone across the world.

Her talk then progressed to the topic of Webster University’s unique approach to education and its flagship global citizen program. By providing students with a wide array of experiences, and exposure to a number of globally recognized industry professionals, graduates are well equipped to enter the global community. In particular, former Ambassador McMillion stressed the need to live a meaningful life, specifically “one where you are able both to reach your personal goals and to exemplify the values that you hold important”.

Former Ambassador McMillion then went on to speak about some of the notable experiences from her career, including implementing a HIV/AIDS education and treatment program for locally engaged embassy staff in Rwanda and facilitating cross-cultural academic exchange in Laos. She also provided students with advice, noting that they should strive towards “equality of opportunity, and especially equality of opportunity for women”.

 

In concluding her speech, McMillion discussed the gains that have been made in education over the past fifty years, particularly in literacy and numeracy. She noted that school completion, especially for girls, still remains a significant challenge that requires continued focus over the coming years. This disparity continues into the workplace where on average women earn 24% less than their male counterparts.

In summation, it was urged that all Webster graduates should attempt to make a positive mark on the world. Through their communities and families, students should strive towards creating a world that is more equitable for everyone, including women, minorities and the most marginalized.

The class of 2016 was left with these final words: “We will need all of our talents to meet the challenges of this world to build a better life for everyone. I hope that you will truly be global citizens intent on ensuring equal opportunity for all in a prospering world. If you do, someday, somewhere, someone will say to you, “You changed my life.”

The 2016 Commencement Speech delivered by McMillion was inspiring, thought provoking and memorable for all those in attendance.

For more pictures, visit: Commencement 2016 album on Facebook.

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