With words of advice and encouragement from astronaut and alumna Sunita Williams ’95 MS and Florida Tech Interim President Robert King, nearly 1,000 students crossed the Clemente Center stage Saturday, ready to launch into what’s next as the Melbourne university held its spring commencement ceremonies.
Over two ceremonies, Florida Tech conferred 1,176 degrees: 529 in the College of Engineering and Science; 285 in the College of Psychology and Liberal Arts; 261 in the Bisk College of Business; and 101 in the College of Engineering.
Graduating students represented 61 countries and 41 U.S. states.
In his opening remarks, King noted these were his final commencement ceremonies at Florida Tech. His service ends June 30 as John Nicklow starts his tenure. “I consider this assignment, serving as your interim president, one of the greatest honors and greatest experiences of my working life,” he said.
With the rise of artificial intelligence and other technologies, he later told the students, it remains important to be curious and ask questions, but it is also essential that they not forget that values, personal and professional, will matter more than ever.
“As powerful and time-saving a tool as AI already is, and for all the good things that will flow from its application, will you commit to yourself that your values, your reputation, and your ethics will guide the use of these amazing tools?” King asked.
In concluding his remarks, he offered some advice: “Keep working hard, keep teaching, keep learning. Perhaps most importantly, keep contributing to the world around you. I am confident that the people of Florida Tech will continue addressing many of humankind’s most daunting challenges.”
Sunita Williams, who is preparing to pilot Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft under the Commercial Crew Program, opened with a reminder of her alma mater’s key role in such matters. “In my world, this is where it all happens.”
She commended the students for succeeding amid the challenges of the last several years.
“You have resilience and perseverance to get things done,” Williams said, “This is a great time in your life. The opportunities are endless, and you are only limited by how hard you are willing to work for your dreams.”
She offered three tips for the soon-to-be graduates to consider as they pursue their dreams:
- Get to the starting line.
- Don’t forget what you learned in kindergarten (naps, sharing, be kind).
- Be sure to stop and take a look at the foliage.
“Your launch countdown has begun,” she concluded. “This is your world to make better.”