May 14, 2017


Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis, Indiana

Honoring Mothers

Congratulations! You made it!

Every one of you has a different story about how you reached this wonderful milestone.

Let me tell you one of those stories.

A long time ago, a young man grew up in a land far, far away. The young man’s father worked hard to support the family. The young man’s mother loved him as only a mother can:

  • getting him out of bed in the morning,
  • reading his textbooks so she could explain his homework,
  • making sure he studied instead of playing soccer all day.

This is a mother’s love.

Neither of his parents had finished high school, but both knew the value of education. Understanding the great strength of American higher education, the young man’s parents put him on a plane to the United States, not knowing whether they would ever see their oldest son again.

They made the ultimate sacrifice letting a piece of themselves go so that their son could build a better life.

There was no Skype, no Facebook, no tweeting—I suspect some of you are tweeting right now. If you are, include @Paydar!

But the young man kept in touch, writing letters and calling from the payphone—yes, the payphone—in his residence hall.

I know this story so well because I was that young man who travelled thousands of miles from home to earn my bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. . . . thanks to my parents.

As I look out over our audience today and see all of the parents who are with us, I think about my own parents and how much they wanted to be there for every one of my graduations. But for reasons beyond their control they couldn’t.

After my father passed, my mother waited for the day she could come and celebrate my success in the U.S.

For over a decade she waited. 

Then, in one of the proudest moments of her life, she was finally able to attend one of my graduation ceremonies . . . But it was one where I was presiding as the chancellor of a university campus.

After years of waiting . . .

This is a mother’s love.

I didn’t truly understand my parents’ sacrifice until I sent my own children away so that they could build better lives.

I understood a parent’s love.

Like the love you all have for our graduates, that love is years in the making.  That love has been tested by hardship and strengthened by joy.  

That love brought all of you here today.  To all of the friends, partners, spouses, siblings, and parents who are here with us today—to the mothers we are celebrating on this Mother’s Day—and especially to the mothers who are graduating:

Thank you for all that you have done to help these graduates reach this great day of celebration.

 Let’s give your parents a round of applause, Class of 2017.

Class of 2017 and the Character of American Higher Education

My story is also about the power and character of American higher education:

  • its open doors,
  • its inclusive search for truth,
  • its global connections.

Its diverse, inclusive, global character makes American higher education the best in the world.

This university environment provides one of the most productive incubators for discovery and innovation of our time.

The key to that environment has been and should remain the free flow of talent—of students, scholars, and many others—from around the world.

Today, as you graduate, I challenge each one of you to continue your journey towards the best person you can be.

Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar

Discovery and Growth as a Jaguar

Today, we are celebrating that powerful educational environment but—more important—we are celebrating the Class of 2017.

Today, in the crossroads of America . . .

  • here in the capital of Indiana . . .
  • the home of the Indy 500 and the Indiana Fever. . .
  • where Madonna, Kenny Chesney, and One Direction have shared their musical talents. . .
  • you are graduating on the home field of the Indianapolis Colts . . . where they will seek revenge on New England.

And now you are making your own history here as the IUPUI Class of 2017.

Over the last few years, our graduates have experienced the discovery and growth inherent in the very best higher education.

Early on, graduates, your discoveries were simple: you realized you needed to schedule more than five minutes between classes on opposite sides of campus.

As you continued your Jaguar life, you found out what it means to represent your schools in Regatta and maybe how not to get wet in those canoes. You also realized the powerful impact that Jagathon Dance Marathon has on Riley kids and their families. You learned what it meant to stand up against hate when protesters came to our campus last fall.

You figured out when and where to turn for help and who would be there when you were down.

Ultimately, out of this rich combination of people and experiences, every single one of you has taken a journey towards the very best person you could be.

I want to congratulate you on your courage in making that journey.

Venturing into the Future

I also want to encourage you as you venture into the future.

Some of you know what your next steps are going to be. Regardless of where they take you, these next steps are incredibly exciting.

What is even more exhilarating is the potential each one of you has.

Which one of you will design our next generation automobile?

How many Olympians are in this Class of 2017?

How many university presidents?

How many chancellors?

Do we have any future mayors like IUPUI grad and Indy mayor Joe Hogsett?

How many vice presidents like IUPUI alums Dan Quayle and Mike Pence?

How many presidents?

Which one of you will find the next cure for cancer?

Whatever you do, I know you will take your work to the greatest heights.

Your potential fills me with pride and anticipation.