The following is a transcript of Kevin Huoh’s valedictory address, offered at USC’s 120th commencement, Friday, May 16, 2003:
Today we stand at the threshold, on the edge of discovery, ready to represent USC as its graduating class of 2003. With all we have learned over the last four years, we are well prepared to take on this immense responsibility. As diverse as we were when we arrived here, USC has instilled in us a sense of belonging and a sense of unity. Working together as Trojans, we have enriched each other’s lives and the lives of the members of the community around us.
By granting us degrees today, USC has entrusted us with continuing the tradition of the university. What will our legacy be? Whose lives will we touch? What chapters will we write in the untold history of the world? Our dreams, many born during walks along Trousdale or late nights studying in Leavey, will create changes and advances in society that we cannot yet imagine.
But before we step over the threshold to pursue these dreams, we should take this moment to reflect on our lives. For defining our uncertain future means diving into our past. As I reflect on my own past, I realize that my personal experiences in large part dictate the person I am today. These experiences also reveal a very special bond that I will forever share with USC.
Twenty-two years ago, I was born in Hollywood with a medical condition known as cystic hygroma. An enormous tumor had lodged itself in my throat, blocking my air passages. During the first few days of my life, I slipped in and out of consciousness as I struggled to breathe. Doctors warned my parents I would most likely not survive.
Desperate for a solution, my father brought me to the doctors of USC at Children’s Hospital. There, physicians gave my parents renewed hope. Over the course of eight years and 90 operations, the doctors of USC guided me towards a better quality of life, allowing me to pursue my own dreams.
Had it not been for the relentless efforts of USC physicians, I would not be here to address you this morning. Because I was granted another chance at life, I cherish every moment, thankful for my time here with my family and friends. I feel the responsibility to dedicate myself fully in all that I attempt, a responsibility I owe to the doctors who never gave up on me.
Although I received the gift of life from USC, during our time here, all of us have experienced a rebirth of who we are. Our eyes have been opened to revised visions of our goals and our minds awakened to the joys of endless possibilities. From offering an awesome array of academic disciplines to encouraging an environment of community involvement, USC has nurtured our growth, leaving its mark on the quality and content of our character.
As high as our aspirations have been, USC has supported these lofty ambitions, challenging us to climb ever higher, daring us to shine ever brighter. Like a good doctor, this university has helped all of us to achieve a better quality of life and given us the foundation to pursue an even better life in the years to come.
While we take this moment to celebrate our four years of successes, we must remember that the future will bring great challenges. Never forget that you are Trojans at heart, now and forever. No matter how difficult the challenge or how big the obstacle in your way, it is your determination and perseverance that will carry you to your dreams.
Rest assured that as graduates of USC, you have the skills and the abilities to succeed. Believe in yourselves as USC has believed in all of us.
And finally, I want to take this moment to thank all of the graduates’ family, relatives, and friends. Their tireless and unwavering support has helped us reach this monumental point in our lives. So now let’s get out there and celebrate because we are the class of 2003. Congratulations and Fight On!
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