After a week of endless celebrations and Boomerangs, I officially graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University yesterday. Each year, this is a time for reminiscing before moving full-speed ahead onto what's next. This year, I have been incredibly lucky to celebrate this occasion and reflect on the past four years, surrounded by so much love from family and friends.
This has made me think a lot about Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement address. In particular, in one of the three stories he shared, he stressed that, "Your time is limited." He's right – I had just four years to make GW not only my home, but also my sandbox, empowering me to broadly explore the world around me. When I look back at how I have developed in this short period of time, I am immediately reminded of, and am thankful for, the moments inside the classroom, within student organizations and internships and with my friends; there were countless unique opportunities inside and outside my comfort zone to grow. Everything I wanted to do or try, I could do here at GW.
I also remember the wisdom then-Provost Lerman told our class: to succeed in life, acquire T-shaped skills, representing both the breadth and depth of knowledge. As an undergraduate, I engaged in diverse experiences, challenges and opportunities, which have undoubtedly broadened my life. But there's more left to do.
Now, it is time to focus these broad life experiences on developing a deeper appreciation and understanding on what I care about most: policy-making, especially as it relates to the technology space in the context of the U.S.-China relationship. The potential to contribute to this convoluted intersection of technology and policy excites me — it is an area where I have often seen disconnects between policy-makers and technologists, as well as between those who make and communicate policy. I want to be that bridge that brings everything, and everyone, together.
I believe I found how to do just that several months ago, news that I have been waiting to share until one of the most important projects of my life, undergrad, was complete. I am excited to officially and finally share that, starting this Fall, I will begin a two-year Masters program in Public Policy, as a GW Presidential Administrative Fellow at the GW Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. I cannot wait to make these next years even more challenging by diving deep into the very field I am most intensely passionate about for the purpose to equip myself with broad and deep knowledge for the new digital age.
I believe the global internet community functions better when all of us who have a stake participate in policy decisions that affect our lives, from free speech and net neutrality to privacy.
Earlier last week, Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, said at the annual Google I/O conference, "It'll take all of us working together to bring the benefits of technology to everyone." One day, I hope to be a voice that drives nuanced, thoughtful technology policy. Completing a Masters in Public Policy will provide me with the scope of knowledge to do the important work of building and uniting a global community to develop more inclusive policies that enable life-changing technologies to be universally accessible. Where I am going only makes sense by looking back at how, as Steve Jobs noted, the dots before this moment now connect. I cannot wait to slowly connect the dots – I am just getting started.
Steve Jobs concluded his address by quoting The Whole Earth Catalog: "Stay hungry, stay foolish." My life has been shaped by these very words — to stay humble, to stay open and to push forward every single day. I am incredibly excited to have this opportunity to continue pursuing what I love, to interact with new ideas and to make every second of this wonderful life matter. In fact, each year, as I move out, I am filled with new energy to "stay hungry" and "stay foolish," a reminder to not become too comfortable with life or to settle.
Most importantly, thank you to everyone who has been, and is, part of this journey, my life. I am so genuinely grateful for the love, positivity and support I am endlessly surrounded with every day. To those Arizona and Catalina Island friends, the type of true friends who continue to grow together even thousands of miles away, while never letting me forget where I come from, even during the moments I fail terribly at promptly responding or properly staying in touch. To the new friends, the ones who deserve credit for making D.C. more than just an incredible city, but rather, a home. To the sweet boy who brings me meaning to the happiest Taylor Swift lyrics. And, to my family, unsung heroes who, I think, often forget just how appreciated, important and loved they are in the context of my life. My life has been shaped and touched by countless individuals who have cared — I am always indebted to you.
With each of you by my side, I am thrilled to move forward, full-speed ahead, to do, learn and live the most that I absolutely can these next two years by taking full advantage of this time to build a wider and, more importantly, deeper scope of knowledge.