DigiPen Institute of Technology 2023 Graduation Ceremony

DigiPen Institute of Technology 2023 Graduation Ceremony

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- Hello, welcome, students, faculty, staff, and honored guests, and families to the Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2023. My name is Angela Kugler, I'm the Executive Vice President of Administration and Operations, and it is my honor to be your MC today. The ceremony is about to begin. Please be aware that we are live streaming today's ceremony and a link to the recording will be available online after today's event.

We also have professional photographers who are taking portraits of all of our graduates and will be sending students links to images for purchase. For the dignity of the ceremony, we ask that everyone stay in their seat during the ceremony, and welcome you to take photos from your seats. At this time, we ask that you please silence your cell phones and other electronics or handheld devices for the duration of the ceremony. Thank you. (bright uplifting music) (bright uplifting music continues) (bright uplifting music continues) (bright uplifting music continues) (bright uplifting music continues) (bright uplifting music continues) (bright uplifting music continues) Please stand for the national anthem performed by the DigiPen Dragon Chorus. ♪ Oh say can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight's last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O'er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rocket's red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there ♪ ♪ Oh say does that ♪ ♪ Star-spangled banner ♪ ♪ Yet wave ♪ ♪ O'er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home ♪ ♪ Of the brave ♪ (audience applauds) Thank you to the DigiPen Dragon Chorus. Please be seated.

We'd like to thank all of you for coming to celebrate this special day for the class of 2023. I'd like to welcome Mr. Claude Comair, DigiPen's president and founder to say a few words. - Thank you. Thank you, Angela. I hate this thing. Well, good afternoon, everyone.

It is actually again, this time of the year when I have to wear a suit. Yes. Very rare. And it is time to, you know, say something to you about the next step, the next stage of your life. Well, it has been really a pleasure having you with us for the past few years. And I know that it hasn't been easy at all.

I know that DigiPen's education is extremely challenging. I know it. I am actually guilty of this fact. But everything that has a value is usually difficult to attain.

Anything that has no value is usually found on the street. Or, you know, as you walk around and you look down and you see something, probably some piece of garbage that somebody left behind. It is useless and it is worthless. Anything that has a value you need to actually struggle to earn and to receive.

Anything that is free is usually, I mean, not everything that is free, but no, sometimes a nice hello and a nice smile is very important. So I rephrase that. Not everything that is free is useless. But usually something that is worth it usually will take a lot of work to understand and to attain and to master. Today I am sure that we are sending you out, I am very sure of that, that you have been well taught and well prepared, and I have absolutely no reservation of signing your degrees.

Because, yes, I do sign it. (phone beeps) Sorry, I couldn't silence this thing. It's my sugar alarm.

Sorry. So I'm saying that I am sure that you have been well taught and well prepared and I have absolutely no worries about you going out there and seeking jobs and anything that you would put your mind to, you will achieve, because you have passed our hurdles and our gauntlets, and those gauntlets that we have made you pass through are not easy at all. They weren't easy.

It took you nights, overnight studying, and seeking and trying to understand and understanding at the end. Otherwise you wouldn't be here today. Trust me. DigiPen has never allowed in its history in the 35 years of existence, never allowed anyone to graduate that did not deserve it. It's simple. You can beg, you can cry, you can start a lawsuit. I'd rather close the school, close the college, rather than actually giving something useless.

And this is a promise that I am here to make in front of you and to you. That this thing, this attitude, this... Behavior of ours would be upheld forever as long as I live. I will never allow your degree to become worthless and useless because the school started graduating people that do not deserve it. So when you actually meet another grad, whether they actually preceded you or coming after you, you can rest assured that this is one of yours. And this person is a friend, and this person understood exactly what needed to be understood, and you can trust them, and you can work with them.

And not only you can trust their knowledge, but you can trust their integrity and their perseverance, and they will go 'til the end with you. These are the people that we graduate. Integer people, people that are honest, people that are knowledgeable, people that are kind. Let me ask you this question.

Anybody from my students here other than the teachers, have ever taught somebody at the school? Did you help somebody? Yes? If you help somebody, just raise your hand, please. Don't lie, huh? Okay, so you see? This is something that maybe the parents don't understand, that we boast a very low ratio of teacher to students. We are about 10 to 12 students per a professor.

And if we add the assistants and we add the TAs and so forth, it's mind boggling how low the ratio would become. But what people don't understand is that the 1,200 to 1,300 student population at DigiPen are all teachers. That's the reason why we do not have walls and the large rooms. That's why you do all your work visible to everybody. There are no secrets. You cannot have the attitude at DigiPen to say, "Oh, this is my secret. I'm not going to share it."

Because the moment you stop sharing, right, you are weak. And the moment you stop sharing, because, you know, you are afraid that other people would learn something that you know, this is the moment that you decide that you're never going to learn anything further. And this is the moment where your teachers will decide not to teach you anymore. Why should they give you what they know? So this is what I wanted to leave you with. I wrote it down on your pamphlets, on your programs.

There is a small few paragraphs that I wrote. In summary, this is what I say, and this is what I want to say. One, integrity is the most important thing in life. Being honest, being kind, being true. (phone beeps) Do you hear that? Beep, beep, beep. I'm sorry.

It must be... I wear a sugar monitor. Just for you to understand. It's not that, you know, my body is beeping like that for no reason.

(audience laughs) So I was talking about the integrity. So the integrity is very important. Nobody wants to be around crooks and mean people and people that are not trustworthy. People will ostracize you, will go away from you.

And so being honest, being integer is the most important advice I can give you. Well taught? I know. I know we're leaving you extremely well taught. And we have this program, which you probably all know, that for the next 10 years we take you back for free.

So if you have missed something and you go to Bungee, just told my friend here that he can return the students to us. If you go to work and you find yourself that you actually fell on a job that is obligating you to actually work in the same topic that you neglected at DigiPen and you passed because you had a general average that was high enough to graduate, well, come back and take it. If you find that we have some education, some topics and some courses that weren't there when you were at DigiPen, please come back and take it. You have 10 years window. After 10 years, we start charging you again.

So well taught, I know. Because I don't expect you all to come back next year to take courses, right? Imagine. So DigiPen's education is for life. What you have studied is not just, you know, you learned how to drop some menus and some software or you became super users or advanced users of something.

You are creators. You know the thing from inside out, from the bottom up. Remember if you have heard one of my, you know, preview days is that we start teaching computer science using a wire, right? So we actually take the wire, and we leak the wire. And if you get electrocuted, you scream, "One."

And if you don't get electrocuted, you say, "Zero." And we start from there. Zero and ones. And the artists, what did we do to the artists? The poor people. We had to make them go through 100,000 drawings the first year.

Why, because we needed to connect their brains to their fingers, so we know exactly what they have in their mind. So they don't give us and they don't settle for what they can do. So you have been well taught. I have no qualm about that. I'm not going to extend on those, but I had to say something for the poor parents and friends and families that you neglected for the past few years.

(audience laughs) They call us, mothers and and fathers and loved ones call us. And the first thing we say, "Sorry, they're not here." Boom. (audience laughs) Right? So this is basically, yeah, I know. That, I know.

Integrity is very important. Knowledge, we know that you have the knowledge. Come back if you're missing something, no problem. There is no sweat there. Now you need to continue education. You need to continue studying for the rest of your life.

So don't be arrogant saying, "I know it all." Let me tell you one thing. I did 21 years of university studies, nine of them in Japan, in Japanese, right? So there is no excuse for saying, "I stopped learning." You will never stop learning. And you need to continue learning and better yourself.

So what did we say so far? Integrity first. Well taught, we know. But keep it on. Keep it going for the rest of your lives.

Finally, never settle for mediocrity. Never, never. Mediocrity never pays for anything. Never settle for mediocrity.

Keep sharpening yourself until you cut through the wind and you hear the whistle. As you cut the wind into two pieces, you should hear the whistle in your brain saying... (phone beeps) Oh my goodness.

I must be dying today. (audience laughs) Yeah, well, obviously I'm wearing a suit. I'm ready. (audience laughs) Okay, okay. How can I not say a joke? I am not a serious person, seriously. Anyway, so anyway, so I said those things that I wanted to say and I don't want to take, you know, the entire time here talking. I talked enough during the, you know, the four years or six years that you have been with us.

It's time for you now to talk. And as a... As a student once said, his name is Bilodeau.

And he said that he was working at NST with me, and on my retirement day, he sent me a video saying that, "Mr. Comair, you know, while I was a student, you told me that I couldn't say anything. That I needed to listen, and then, you know, I couldn't speak." Which is true. I say that all the time, you should listen.

That's why you have one mouth and two ears. You should listen more than speaking. "And then when I became employee of yours at NST at Nintendo Soft, you also told me to listen. So now that you are retiring, can I get back my voice?" And today I would like you to relax, and I know that is unusual.

I'm going to ask you to get back your voice and scream with me, okay? We need to scream, and we really need to actually shake this building, because we need to wake up. Because I see some people still under the... They're tired from the last exams, right? So we need to wake you up, people, okay? Seriously.

Because you're going to throw these hats later on or something, whatever you call these things, and it's not going to hit the ceiling. And I want to see them up in the air, right? So, but before you do that, I need you to scream with me. I'm going to count to three, and you're going to scream, and we are going to show all of these people that we invited today, what kind of voice you have, right? And I know usually I do it at the end of the day, at the end of the ceremony, but I am actually too tired to wait for the end of the ceremony. (audience laughs) And this thing being beeping on me, who knows if I can make it 'til the end of the ceremony. (audience laughs) So let's do it now. Sorry, Angie, okay? Because Angie has a program and I'm not allowed to do anything outside the program.

Okay? So I count to three. All right? And then we scream. Seriously, scream, right? Don't hold it. You have been silent for the past four years, so please do it.

One, two, three. (audience screams) Good, good. (audience claps) That's good. (audience claps) That's good. Finally, I would like to thank the parents, the loved ones, all the people who were left behind for so many days.

And thank you so much for the trust you put in us. I would like to thank my students. You are now colleagues, you are now friends. You no longer need to call me Mr. Comair

or Professor Comair or whatever you call me behind my back. (audience laughs) You can call me Claude. We are colleagues. I start receiving invitations for dinners, because for people who don't know that, we are not allowed to actually have anything to do with the students while they are studying. So therefore now I'm free for dinners. (audience laughs) I eat Chinese, I eat Lebanese, I eat Mediterranean, I eat anything.

And I would like to thank, obviously, the staff at DigiPen that actually really is dedicated like no other people on earth. We love what we do, and we are here, you know, because of conviction and not because of a salary or any of that. I know, because the money is not enough to pay for the dedication of the teachers and the staff that we have, seriously. Mainly during the COVID years, we went out of our ways to actually teach without delays, without any interruption. As a matter of fact, if you remember, we slept that Friday.

We were in person that Monday. Next Monday, two days later we were already up and running fully. (phone beeps) Goodbye. (audience laughs) It was nice meeting you. Seriously, must be hitting 700 or something. Anyway, so I could never thank enough the staff during the COVID years, and you have spent COVID years with us.

It was horrible. I'm glad that it is off and it is gone. And really the dedication of our people have reached limits that are unbelievable, and for that, I really bow to them and thank them for giving you all the best that they could give during times that were awful. Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody.

(audience claps) Come on, come on. One, two, three. Come on. One more time. One, two, three. (audience screams) (audience claps) - Thank you, Mr. Comair. And now, Mr. Chris Comair, DigiPen's COO of Redmond, will do the honor of introducing our Commencement Speaker, Mr. Justin Truman.

- Hey, everybody. I'm going to introduce Justin Truman. (Chris laughs) Justin is the Chief Development Officer at Bungee. He supports Bungee's ongoing mission to forge a creative and technical center of excellence. He is a leader who represents a multi-decade odyssey through a myriad of games, and he dedicates unique insight to uplifting our studio's world-class team. His advocacy reinforces their long-term health and success, not only of the studio and the game, but of all the people. He mentors and unlocks the potential of everybody.

His stewardship empowers a culture of trust and innovation, and a place where, together, everybody can bravely turn radical visions into a world-wide culture. Truman's influence has shaped and evolved Destiny's universe for more than a decade. Please welcome Justin Truman. (audience claps) - Hey, what's up, everybody? Let me move this up. I'm a little tall.

Yeah, so before I begin, I wanna thank President Comair, the faculty, all of the staff here at DigiPen. You guys have really created something special here. Not just as a center of academic excellence, but something that I've seen genuinely transform the entertainment industry that we all care so much about.

And most importantly, I want to thank all of you graduates. Your hard work, your dedication, your achievement is why we're all here today. So let me introduce myself, although Chris did an awesome job already, but I'll repeat a little bit of it. I'm Justin Truman. I'm the Chief Development Officer at Bungee, and if you're not familiar with Bungee, that's okay. We're kind of a dad gamer company, so your dad probably played, like, Halo back in the day.

And more recently, we make the action MMO Destiny that you might have heard of. Bungee has spent most of our 30 years growing up here in the Pacific Northwest, kind of alongside DigiPen, which has been pretty cool. And for me, I've been in games for about two decades now, ever since I graduated with my own computer science degree. And I spent about half of my career as an engineer, then a few years as a design director, then moved into production for a while, and then more recently and more of, like, business and leadership focused roles. And that means that I've worn and I continue to wear a bunch of different types of hats over the years. Some of the hats I was never expecting to wear, if I'm being honest.

But as I navigated this pretty surprising journey over the last 20 years, I eventually came to realize that my passion, the north on my compass, is that I love helping people and helping organizations develop and become the best version of themselves. At this point. I think I honestly like that more than the video games. Even though the video games are still pretty cool. But this speech isn't about me.

We're here to focus on all of you. And so I want to talk about you, and specifically talk about your character, about who you are, where you're standing right here today, or sitting, and what I know that each of you can become. And I wanna talk about this character as an RPG, 'cause I'm a nerd. So let's talk about that character that you're building for yourself, and let me give you some tips for power leveling, for getting some extra XP, and for making sure that you enjoy the game that is ahead of you. And I know that I'm already talking to a bunch of power levelers, because what you just did was so, so hard.

The fact that you're sitting here today, like President Comair was talking about, is one hell of an accomplishment. Like, did you know that 2/3 of the US population have not achieved what you have? What we're celebrating you achieving today. 2/3 of the entire country. And I can only imagine the level of work and effort that that took. The late nights, the stress, the long hours, the pain, the perseverance, and now, the triumph. But once you step outta here and are no longer focused on getting that degree, no longer have the structure and the goals of that finish line in front of you that DigiPen has provided, the game is gonna get a lot more tricky.

It's less linear, and it's a lot more open world. And one of the most important lessons that I wish I had learned earlier, was that now that you are in this open world part of the game, it's really important to make sure that you are doing your side quests. I'm confident because you're sitting here today that every one of you is gonna do something amazing. The fact that you are graduating, like President Comair was saying, is already proof of that. You're gonna create incredible experiences that are entertaining, that are inspiring, that are artistic.

But it's also going to be really, really important as you do that, to not give 100% of yourself, of your body and your soul to the pursuit of that craft. Because to build the amazing things that the world has never seen before, we need the best version of you. And that means that you need time and you need space and you need energy for hobbies, for friends, for family. This is not only a goal that's going to make you happier, but it's also gonna keep you from burning out.

And at a fundamental level, I've seen over and over again, it's going to make you more creative. So don't make the mistake that I made in my 20s. Like, I worked at a game studio and I was so invested in the work, I was so excited to be there, so focused on doing the absolute best that I could, that I gave all of my energy and almost all of my time as a waking human to the pursuit of that craft. And it burnt me out after a while. Like, it wounded my relationships. It made me a pretty uninteresting, one-dimensional human being.

And it wasn't until I was, I don't know, around, like, 30 or so, that I looked back and I realized that I had lost track of most of those 20s of mine. And that realization was when I really started focusing on the side quests. I started making myself a more three-dimensional character. And I am so much better of a human because of it. Like, I'm happier, I'm more grounded, and I am a better, more successful creative. So as you pursue your passions, as you create new things that are hard and that are incredible, and that the world has never seen before you got here, make sure you're also spending enough time with your friends, with your family, and make sure you have hobbies.

Like, no matter how hard your work is, no matter what game you are building, you're gonna need those side quests. Okay, side quest lesson one in the open world game. The next lesson that each of these are just gonna be things that I've suffered through that I'm hoping to get y'all to avoid. The next one, is watch out for poison damage.

Don't settle for a toxic work environment. It is so easy to be grateful that you finally have achieved your dream. You have a games job, you have a dream job, you're working on something awesome, you have a career that makes you feel so fortunate that your friends would be, like, lucky to be doing something as cool as what you're doing. And when you feel that way, it's really easy to start accepting some big compromises.

Maybe the team that you're on treats you poorly, or maybe they're nice but they just demand too much of you. Or maybe the team has a toxic and unhealthy work culture. And I need you to hear this, that even when pursuing your dreams, you can demand better for yourself and still achieve those dreams. Because there are definitely still game studios out there that are toxic, that are immature, and that will exploit you if you let them. There are also a lot of amazing studios out there that will inspire and nurture and reward you. And especially if you're not all, like, privileged, overconfident white dude like me, there are still a lot of places in the industry that can be hostile and discriminatory.

But there are also a lot of places that aren't. And so don't ever settle. Don't shrug off the poison damage. Leave and find something better. And it's worth talking about the, like, the other side of this coin too.

Because the culture of any team that you're on, whether it's healthy or whether it's toxic, is also going to be based on how good of a teammate you are. At Bungee we have a value that we say a lot in the studio, which is that teams are stronger than heroes. And the reason why we say this so often is because creativity is hard. It's scary.

You have to feel safe to be your best on a team to throw out wild, unbaked, probably still bad ideas and get them upgraded. You have to be okay feeling imperfect, showing your vulnerability, acknowledging when you're stuck, or don't know what you're doing. And that means for any healthy culture to stay healthy, you need to be a great teammate. Not just a good teammate, a great teammate.

Someone who is collaborative, someone who is supportive, someone who makes every day the other people around you feel safe, feel inspired, feel willing to take more risks and be creative. And so on any team that you find yourself on, you always want to be creating a culture where you all succeed together and share that credit equally. And I know you've already experienced some of this. Like, DigiPen has this amazing project-based curriculum that you've had a lot of opportunity to work on teams, and I bet you've had some great team experiences in that. But I want to emphasize that this is a skill. Even if you don't think you've ever been the, like, jerk on your team, I guarantee that this is something that you can keep practicing.

This is something that you can get better at. This is something you can level up in. And it's essential if you want to build something great and feel great while you build it. You want to keep honing that skill. You want to focus on being an incredible, collaborative teammate. Okay, so what have we got so far? Do your side quests, avoid poison damage, be a good teammate.

The next and maybe most important thing that I want to talk about is your character sheet. Because what I've found to be probably the single best secret to long-term success is to focus on your character sheet. Don't focus on where you wanna be, don't focus on what you want to do, focus on who you are.

Because building that character sheet is the real secret that is going to get you to exactly where you want to be, get you doing exactly what it is that you want to do. Let me try to make this tangible with an example. So let's say you want to be a game director at a prestigious studio someday. For any given project, there's only one of those. And so it's really easy for that focus over time to become external.

How do you secure that spot? How do you convince other people to put you in that position, to promote you to game director? How do you beat out your other teammates who are really awesome and inspiring so that you get that one spot? And pretty soon with that external perspective, you start viewing your collaborators, your teammates, not as collaborators, but as competitors. And this route is pretty guaranteed to lead to a certain amount of bitterness, of side-eyeing, of not a lot of the things that are gonna turn you into that great teammate that we were just talking about. But instead, if you focus on a goal like that internally, what skills do you need in your character sheet to become an incredible game director? Then you have a road in front of you. Like, do you need to get better at pitching ideas really effectively? Then you can start practicing pitches. Do you have a really strong grasp of aesthetics but know that you need a better understanding of mechanics design? That becomes the next thing you focus on building in your character sheet.

There's always something that you can be focusing on, on your own character sheet to help you work towards a goal. And what I've found over and over again, is that if you focus these lofty goals about where you want to go, what you want to do, you turn those internally instead of externally, two amazing things are gonna happen. First, you're just gonna be happier.

Like, you can control your internal progress in a way that you can't control a lot of external things. And so it's gonna be much less likely to lead to bitterness, to frustration, to disappointment from things that are fundamentally out of your control. But also this is the un-intuitive part, this is the secret.

I guarantee that this approach is gonna get you to that external goal faster. Building your XP, paying attention to your character sheet, unlocking new perks is the secret that opens the doors to lead you to where you want to go. I've seen it happen again and again and again to my friends, to my colleagues, and I know it's gonna work for you too.

And so this leads me to the last lesson that I wish that I had learned earlier about our character sheets, which is that you can multi-class. Like I mentioned in the beginning, like, I've ended up working as an engineer, as a designer, as a producer, even as, like, a stuffy business guy. And I noticed this funny thing after I'd unlocked a couple of different character classes, which is that I'd walk into a room, and depending on who I was talking to, they'd box me in to just one class that they knew me as. One group of folks would treat me like an engineer, 'cause they had worked with me when I was in engineering. Another group would treat me like a designer, but nobody thought of me as both.

And the reality is that most people that you encounter for the rest of your life, are gonna want to put you in a box like that. They're gonna want to give you a specialization, a character class, and they're gonna assume very little of you outside of that specialization and what it entails. And it's gonna happen so much, that it becomes really easy to start doing it to yourself.

But don't. Don't ever box yourself in. Don't ever limit what you can become. You contain multitudes. Like, just think about the last few years that you've spent here at DigiPen. Think about the day before you first arrived here. If you pull up your character sheet in your mind, what did it look like? How good were you at art or design or engineering or audio just a few years ago? And now think about your character sheet today.

Pull that one up in your mind. How much have you grown? How much expertise, true, like, class-based expertise, have you unlocked? Maybe a brand new character class that you've become that you can call yourself. And so if you spend the next 20 years, like me, building your character sheet, leveling up, you're gonna get to go through that same level of growth at least, like, five more times.

And it doesn't all have to be in the same skill tree. Like, maybe you're gonna choose to grow in leadership and management skills for a few years. Or maybe you're gonna suddenly become an expert in generative AI, 'cause that's really hot right now. Or maybe you're gonna become the world's greatest storyteller even if you started in engineering or music. And I'm saying this because I need you to say it to yourselves over the years as you plot your course. Because a lot of the world around you is gonna say the opposite.

They're gonna figure out what your most obvious class is, and they're gonna box you into that. But you should always expect more of yourself. Be curious, push your own boundaries, be willing to start feeling dumb again, because that means that you're learning something new. You're back to being a student, not an expert. Because while we are today celebrating the completion of your time here at this amazing university, you're not done learning. Not even close.

If we could pull up that character sheet right now that you were visualizing, like, you're at level, I don't know, 10. And there is no level cap. Like, you can get to 100 beyond. You can multi-class. You have the ability to become the best person in the world at that thing you're really passionate about. If you just keep grinding XP, if you keep thinking about your character sheet, if you stay curious and you stay thoughtful, as you level up. Because I'm looking around the room right now, and what I see is the future leaders of our industry.

I'm old. I am already out of touch. And I'm that gamer dad that's already fading into obscurity. And that's fine, because you are going to be the ones who push the boundaries. You will invent whole new genres of entertainment that the world has never seen before you got here.

You are gonna create artistic experiences that show us what it means to be human, that touch the souls of millions of people. You're going to reinvent this entire industry in your image, not mine, creating a better, kinder, more diverse, more inspiring world of experiences that can represent everyone here. And honestly, I just can't wait to get out of the way and cheer you on as you take the throne. So I want to hear some applause for you guys for what you've accomplished and what you are about to go on to accomplish.

Thank you. (audience applauds) - Thank you so much, Mr. Truman, for sharing your wisdom. Next, Dr. Erik Mohrmann, the Dean of Faculty, will recognize the faculty. - Hello, Dragons. Yeah. Look around you.

This is a great community. Today, to honor you, we have gathered your friends, your family, and your faculty. And most of today we're doing this.

We're focusing on honoring you for what you've accomplished. And that's appropriate. You pause a minute.

You might even close your eyes to do this. Think about who you were. You can be honest. It's just inside of your own head. Think about who you were when you walked in the door and how different you are today. You're physically different, you're mentally different, you're emotionally different.

Awesome. In fact, in a little bit, we're gonna start honoring you as a group. And I have the privilege of beginning that. First, however, I'd like to do a pivot, and that pivot aligns so well with what Mr. Truman just presented to us. I'm so thankful for that, because we are gonna pivot to just that, to an attitude of thankfulness. And I won't dwell on the research and bore you too much today.

You've earned the privilege of not hearing that from me again. But thankfulness will make you live longer, and thankfulness will make you enjoy the years that you live more. So with that, let's turn and thank our faculty for a moment. So now we get a chance to embarrass them.

So we're gonna make them all stand up for a moment, and you're gonna have to listen to me talk briefly. So, faculty, please rise. (audience applauds) I didn't even get to that part yet. We're gonna pause and reflect on the last years briefly and thank them with yes, more applause, for what has happened over that time.

In that time, they have held us accountable. All right? Thank you. And they have also extended grace. They have provided for us struggles. Am I right?

And they have also extended to us the ways through those struggles. They have set for us high bars, and we can thank them for helping us over those high bars. But perhaps the greatest thing we can summarize in one word, and this one word is yet.

And I would encourage you graduates as I say the word yet, you can say it with me. You'll catch the rhythm of this real fast, I bet. There's been plenty of times when I haven't known how to do something yet. There's been plenty of times when I was not the complete person I wanted to be yet. And there has been many, many times when I haven't changed the world yet.

And for helping us learn those lessons in that powerful word, let's thank our faculty. (audience applauds) Thank you. All right, now we turn our attention to the graduates, and it is my pleasure to honor those who have earned the highest GPAs of their graduating class in their undergraduate degree programs. Valedictorians, please stand as your name is called. We will have a chance for applause at the end. Don't you worry.

For the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Digital Art and Animation, Nitis Borirakpanich. (audience applauds) For the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, Jozie Brajkovich. (audience applauds) For the Bachelor of Arts in Music and Sound Design, Ina Almacen. (audience applauds) For the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Digital Audio, Yoh Ginoza. (audience applauds) For the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Game Design, Adam De Broeck.

(audience applauds) For the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, Jane Kornich. (audience applauds) For the Bachelor of Science in Machine Learning, Ben Van Oostendorp. (audience applauds) For Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Raj Singh.

(audience applauds) And for the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, Sandy Jamieson. (audience applauds) Thank you, Valedictorians. Now please remain standing. I would now like to honor all graduates who are graduating with honors. Undergraduate students who have achieved a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher,

and graduate students who have a 3.7 cumulative GPA or higher, are wearing gold cords to signify their academic honors. If you are wearing a gold cord, please stand. (audience applauds) Guests, join me in honoring these students.

(audience applauds) Thank you. - Congratulations, students, and thank you, Dr. Mohrmann. It is time for our nominated student speaker who will be introduced by Mr. Chris Comair. - All right, thank you, Angie. Thank you, students.

I would like to introduce our nominated student speaker. This student was chosen by our faculty and staff to speak to their graduating class for being a positive example of what it means to be a DigiPen Dragon, both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Please welcome Jozie Brajkovich. (audience applauds) (Jozie laughs) - Oh, boy, you'll have to forgive me. I'm a little nervous.

Thank you, everyone, for being here today. It is wonderful to be celebrating this momentous occasion with you. When I started at DigiPen, I was the biggest worry wart.

I fretted over everything, every turn-in, every possibility. I used to hand over my assignments and promptly leave the building. Do you guys have any favorite crying spots in the parking lot? My favorite one was kind of in the middle. There's, like, a foresty nook with a pit included. I feel like I'm not alone. There were times it was occupied.

Pits aside, I realized at a certain point that I could probably use a little less worry in my life, not only about assignments, but also because those unknowns just don't go away. My change in heart comes from a collection of wisdom shared with me by some of my favorite people. As it was said freshman year, no one makes it through DigiPen alone. Perhaps my biggest supporter, Joseph, gave me a couple of cheesy things to cling to. Now, before we get too hung up on the cheese, I love cheesy things. Professor Forrester knows this a little too well, as I excitedly shared with her my leather book of quotes aimed at those in a midlife crisis.

The first cheesy thing that I tried to embrace was called the five by five rule. If it isn't going to matter in five years, don't spend more than five minutes worrying about it. I absolutely fought Joseph on that one. I do concede now, because it has now been five years, and I have no idea what that was about. (laughs)

So freshman year Jozie gets a little bit better. She worries a little less and becomes a sophomore who still cries in the parking lot, but notably less often. Spring rolls around, and this is the time that designers choose what to specialize in. I think I changed mine around, like, three times that semester, but the story I wanna share is a phone call I was in tears prior to, of course. But this time Professor Holcomb is on the other end.

He asked me what I wanna be when I grow up. The future looms. The impending doom is back. I expressed my many worries. Holcomb in response, sends me a Billy Joel song.

The lyrics are, "Slow it down. You're doing fine. You can't be everything you want before your time." I breathe, add the song to my playlist, and set my eyes on being a systems UX designer. I'll later change that, of course.

No, I changed it. (audience laughs) Backed up by more support, I finished the semester with my head held high, and then that summer I start my first real big girl job and immediately go back to fretting and worrying. It's a theme. (laughs) I worked from nine to five, although it was kind of, like, noon to eight in eastern time, and I quickly developed the habit of shutting down my computer at, like, 8:15 and then crying until 8:30.

When I confessed to Joseph again that I wasn't right for this job, they hired me way too fast, I didn't know what skill set they were getting, I didn't have enough experience, I wasn't learning fast enough, he cut me off and told me I was a silly goose, and that the mark of mastery is consistency, not quick aptitude. This is a little cheesy, but I love it so much. Consistency, not quick aptitude. I wasn't learning the tool quickly. I was awful at it, and I was just showing up and making broken things.

But I was learning a little bit every day. The task that summer was building a series of prototypes, and the first one took me over a month. But the last one I was able to make in a week. It is consistency, not quick aptitude.

Okay, that is truly enough about me crying. The point here is that everything is kind of hard, but it's an incredible blessing that we don't need to do it alone. It was through the people by my side.

And this does go beyond Joseph and Holcomb, I just selected stories purely on levels of cheese, that I learned to focus on what's in front of me. It is so much better. The burden is so much lighter. You cry in the parking lot so much less when you focus on the parts that actually matter than torturing ourselves with the endless pile of what ifs.

It can be taken with or without the cheese. But the reality is that very few things matter in five years. We can all use a little bit of slowing down. And mastery is made through being consistent in the actions that are taken day by day.

Thank you all for being on this journey with me and being the 200 some pieces of evidence in pointy hats that all these things are true, that we can move through days one at a time together and accomplish amazing things. It is awesome to be here with you today. To end in the words of DigiPen's favorite wizard, who unsurprisingly, is a fan of Billy Joel, "I love you all. Our time together has drawn to a close. Fly, be free and I'll see you in the industry." (audience applauds) - Jozie, thank you so much for honoring your classmates with those thoughtful stories and words. Next, I'd like to draw your attention to our DigiPen Dragon chorus, as they perform "Other Commencement."

Lyrics are by DigiPen alumnus Ariel Kim, and music is by Dr. Sarah Riskind, and conducted by Stephen O'Bent. (bright uplifting piano music) ♪ The end of this chapter ♪ ♪ Has arrived ♪ ♪ The start of this chapter has begun ♪ ♪ Through all the years ♪ ♪ We spent together ♪ ♪ Building and growing connections ♪ ♪ We know that we've learned ♪ ♪ We've grown we've made it ♪ ♪ And we know that we've learned ♪ ♪ We've grown we've made it ♪ ♪ Stronger ♪ ♪ Older ♪ ♪ Ready to take on the world ♪ ♪ Ready to take on the world ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ As long as we grow ♪ ♪ As we do ♪ ♪ Life will come to you ♪ ♪ To open new gateways ♪ (bright uplifting music continues) ♪ With life and these paths ♪ ♪ Like we did these past years ♪ ♪ Growing ♪ ♪ Finding ♪ ♪ Earning ♪ ♪ Building ♪ ♪ Learning our passions ♪ ♪ Our passions ♪ ♪ In the best way ♪ ♪ Nothing will tell us ♪ ♪ We cannot move on ♪ ♪ Hardships thrown at us ♪ ♪ Will never be gone ♪ ♪ But even with hardships thrown at us ♪ ♪ We will always move on ♪ ♪ We will always move on ♪ ♪ We will always move on ♪ ♪ We will always move on ♪ ♪ We know that we've learned ♪ ♪ We've grown we've made it ♪ ♪ We know that we've learned ♪ ♪ We've grown we've made it ♪ ♪ We know that we've learned ♪ ♪ We've grown we've made it ♪ ♪ For all the years ♪ ♪ Building and growing connections ♪ ♪ In all the years we've spent ♪ ♪ The start of this chapter ♪ ♪ Has begun ♪ ♪ The end ♪ ♪ Of this chapter ♪ ♪ Has arrived ♪ (audience applauds) - Thank you so much for that lovely performance.

We're now ready to confer degrees to our graduates. As a reminder, we ask that guests stay seated during the ceremony and not approach the stage, as we have professional photographers who will be sharing links to photos of all graduates within the next two days. Conferring degrees for the MFA program is program director Mark Henne. The Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts combines foundational coursework in the fine arts with extensive digital production experience to help students develop both their personal skill and artistic voice. Up First, Miranda Penrod.

(audience applauds) Caleb Barefoot. (audience applauds) Michelle Buxeda-Roque. (audience applauds) Conferring degrees for the MS CS program is Program Director Dimitri Volper. The Master of Science in Computer Science allows students to further their understanding of computer science while specializing in an advanced subdiscipline of simulation software and video game development. Okay. Brian Chen. (audience applauds) Nahye Park. (audience applauds)

Andrew Rudasics. (audience applauds) Aseem Apastamb. (audience applauds) Rohit Punjabi. (audience applauds) Vance Howald. (audience applauds)

Brady Menendez Campos. (audience applauds) Abhijit Zala. (audience applauds) Theodore Showrigan. (audience applauds) Seth Kohler. (audience applauds) Krishna Pillai. (audience applauds) Conferring degrees for the BFA in Digital Art and Animation is Program Director Jazno Francoeur.

(audience applauds) The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation teaches students the techniques, processes and tools that professional artists use to create powerful, affecting imagery for games, animated films and other digital media. Chucky Chang. (audience applauds) Douglas Wu. (audience applauds) Ev Le. (audience applauds) Maddie McElfish. (audience applauds) Crisha Rinaldi. (audience applauds)

Xiaowan Ma. (audience applauds) Nicole McElhose. (audience applauds) Devin Busenbark. (audience applauds) Ethan Yant. (audience applauds)

Louis Hu. (audience applauds) Nitis Borirakpanich. (audience applauds) Juthapat Limpattanakul. (audience applauds) Tachua Napasa. (audience applauds) Megan Erchukiat. (audience applauds)

Naomi Ebata. (audience applauds) Jade Bai. (audience applauds) Kaleb Leino. (audience applauds)

Riley Olson. (audience applauds) James Anderson. (audience applauds) Dottie Johnson. (audience applauds) Molly Veesart. (audience applauds) Jessica Rivas. (audience applauds) Ariel Moss. (audience applauds)

Hailer Conway. (audience applauds) Ivan Osorio. (audience applauds) Wendy Morrison. (audience applauds) Sarai Osborne. (audience applauds) Jessica Keddy. (audience applauds)

Magan Kim. (audience applauds) Elizabeth Rei Pulanco. (audience applauds) Olivia Brem. (audience applauds) Lily Eubanks. (audience applauds) (audience laughs) Damaris Unat Almanza. (audience applauds) Emily Hoff. (audience applauds)

Dahra Perez Mendez. (audience applauds) Aurora Yanez. (audience applauds) Jared Rose-Kim. (audience applauds) Michael Pacheco. (audience applauds) Riley Scott Simmons. (audience applauds)

Garrett Lusignan. (audience applauds) Ava Rooney. (audience applauds) Megan Meadows. (audience applauds) Anna Stockton. (audience applauds) Harriet Clarke. (audience applauds) Julia Brown. (audience applauds)

Rowan Thompson. (audience applauds) Madeline Vokovitch. (audience applauds) Vince Leopardi. (audience applauds) Daron Walker. (audience applauds) Veronica Pavlova. (audience applauds) Jason Bai. (audience applauds)

Benjamin Amos. (audience applauds) Ginger Chanfrau. (audience applauds) Tristan Adam. (audience applauds) Hikaru Wong. (audience applauds)

Andrew Yan. (audience applauds) Kasie Butler. (audience applauds) Rebecca Joines. (audience applauds) Kacey Lei Quillopo. (audience applauds) Conferring degrees for the BA GD program is program director Jeremy Holcomb.

(audience applauds) The Bachelor of Art in Game Design combines game design theory and practice with coursework in the humanities, social science, art, and the fundamentals of mathematics and computer science to produce graduates with the deep knowledge of how to craft compelling game experiences. Congratulations, Chris Cassidy. (audience applauds) Lani Forrest. (audience applauds) Elle Schaefer. (audience applauds) Kevin Jacobson. (audience applauds) Grant Garoutte. (audience applauds)

Prasad Chandra Arunprasan. (audience applauds) Raven Montoya. (audience applauds) Oliver Chung. (audience applauds) Vatsapon Asawakittiporn. (audience applauds)

Jirakit Seungapanchi. (audience applauds) Apichaya Apichatwong. (audience applauds) Cody Hardy. (audience applauds) Andrew Valadez. (audience applauds) Hunter Say. (audience applauds) Daniel Hiley. (audience applauds)

Zach Meldrum. (audience applauds) Keion Rodriguez. (audience applauds) Meathus Sornthanayodsakorn. (audience applauds) Luke Campbell. (audience applauds) Mabel Britt. (audience applauds)

Zach Super. (audience applauds) Cai McDermott. (audience applauds) Menira Leal-Smartt. (audience applauds) Casey Beckman. (audience applauds) Max Lussier. (audience applauds)

James Ward. (audience applauds) Gilberto Jimenez. (audience applauds) Yeen Samarnkatiwat. (audience applauds) Cory Pfeifer. (audience applauds)

Jozie Brajkovich. (audience applauds) Joseph Crump. (audience applauds) Jaden Corrado. (audience applauds)

Conferring degrees for the BA MSD program is Program Director, Lawrence Schwedler. (audience applauds) The Bachelor of Arts in Music and Sound Design focuses on the creative principles of interactive sound design. This program combines foundational coursework in music, including music history, composition, theory, and performance, with practical training in studio recording techniques and sound design principles. Okay, DJ Havens. (audience applauds) Karlye Shank. (audience applauds)

Ina Almecan. (audience applauds) Noah Litov. (audience applauds) Colin Kolb. (audience applauds) Antonio Leder. (audience applauds) Harrison Jones. (audience applauds) Eric Cayton. (audience applauds)

Kylie Wallette. (audience applauds) John Sullivan. (audience applauds) Noah Taublieb. (audience applauds) Eric Herbst. (audience applauds)

Conferring degrees for the BSCSDA program is also program director Lawrence Schwedler. The Bachelor of Science and Computer Science and Digital Audio combines the disciplines of computer science, audio engineering and music. This degree program focuses on audio programming and digital signal processing, along with audio production and implementation to train the next generation of game audio programmers in the development of adapted soundscapes and the tools needed to build them. Kailen Swensen. (audience applauds)

Yoh Ginoza. (audience applauds) Anthony Bahn. (audience applauds) Natalia Pollack. (audience applauds) Next we have the BS CS GD program. And conferring degrees for that program is Program Director, Ben Ellinger.

(audience applauds) The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design combines game design theory and practice with coursework in computer science, mathematics, the humanities, social sciences, and arts, to produce graduates who are proficient computer scientists and designers. First up we have Kelson Wysocki. (audience applauds) Alex Jalonen. (audience applauds) Ben Thompson. (audience applauds) Ben Mowry. (audience applauds)

Erin Scribner. (audience applauds) Scott Fado-Bristow. (audience applauds) Steven Docy. (audience applauds) Jacob Burke. (audience applauds) Jakob Shumway. (audience applauds)

McKinley Roshak. (audience applauds) Jackson Fischer. (audience applauds) Hibnu Shahul. (audience applauds) Julian Blackstone. (audience applauds) Lillian Monroy. (audience applauds) Jessica Gramer. (audience applauds)

Kiara Santiago. (audience applauds) Adam De Broeck. (audience applauds) Chris Brown. (audience applauds) Riley Bird. (audience applauds) Evie Brown. (audience applauds) Devin Peterson. (audience applauds)

Jirakit Jarusiripipat. (audience applauds) Bar Ben-zvi. (audience applauds) Matt Walker. (audience applauds) Dan Jong. (audience applauds) Yuan Jujo. (audience applauds)

Kenny Mecham. (audience applauds) Coby Colson. (audience applauds) Charlie Osberg. (audience applauds) Seth Merrill. (audience applauds) Matthew Meehan. (audience applauds) Daniel Nunes. (audience applauds)

Christopher Dowell. (audience applauds) Grant Wu. (audience applauds) Mars Jurich. (audience applauds) Damian Rouse. (audience applauds)

Deante James. (audience applauds) Kai Kawashima. (audience applauds) Frankie Camarillo. (audience applauds) Cole Schwinghammer. (audience applauds) Christian Wookey. (audience applauds)

Conferring degrees for the BS CE program is Program Director, Jeremy Thomas. (audience applauds) The Bachelor of Science and Computer Engineering prepares students to become engineers who understand both sides of the hardware-software interface, from designing circuits to developing operating systems. Students take advanced coursework in electrical engineering and low-level programming along with project-based courses that allow them to conceive, design, prototype, build and test embedded systems.

Ghasson Younes. (audience applauds) Kai Nobusada. (audience applauds) Jane Kornich. (audience applauds) Conferring degrees for the BS CS ML program is Program Director, Barnabas Bede.

(audience applauds) The Bachelor of Science and Computer Science in Machine Learning focuses on predictive modeling and core machine learning algorithms, as well as on various paradigms such as artificial neural networks and deep learning. Students explore applications ranging from natural language, processing, to computer vision as they learn to draw meaningful conclusions from large distributed data sets. Alex Herrera. (audience applauds)

Paul Hazen. (audience applauds) Ben van Oostendorp. (audience applauds) Adrian Kacmarcik. (audience applauds)

Conferring degrees for the BS CS program is Program Director, Pushpak Karnick. (audience applauds) The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science prepares students to develop software through a combination of computer science theory and continuous practical application in team-based projects. Students learn to gather, store and analyze real world data to connect and harness the power of distributed computing devices and to create digital interfaces that are natural and intuitive. Joanna Li. (audience applauds)

Raj Singh. (audience applauds) Jacob Hendrickson. (audience applauds) Will McDonald. (audience applauds)

Jonathan Knowles. (audience applauds) Conferring degrees for the BS CS RTIS program is also Program Director, Pushpak Karnick. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation focuses on developing, implementing and programming complex interactive simulations and computer graphics in real-time, giving students the knowledge and skills to produce highly complex software systems at a professional level. Aiden Cvengros. (audience applauds) Gibson Hogland. (audience applauds)

AJ Bussman. (audience applauds) Bailey Magelli. (audience applauds) Natnaree Angklomkliew. (audience applauds) Taher Kagzi. (audience applauds) Mark Kouris. (audience applauds)

Sejeong Park. (audience applauds) Uijin Lee. (audience applauds) Sinil Kang. (audience applauds) Javier Sandoval. (audience applauds) Amir Azmi. (audience applauds) Alexander Smith. (audience applauds)

William Patrick. (audience applauds) James Milton. (audience applauds) Joshua Pulanco. (audience applauds) Lance Dobransky. (audience applauds) Ryan Buehler. (audience applauds)

David Cruz. (audience applauds) David Wong Cascante. (audience applauds) Nicky Pilcz. (audience applauds) Sandy Jamieson. (audience applauds) Spencer Williams. (audience applauds)

Chau Sheng Lu. (audience applauds) Siler Fung. (audience applauds) Matthew LaDouceur. (audience applauds)

Rohit Singh. (audience applauds) Julie Sacks. (audience applauds) Jihwan Oh. (audience applauds) Mook Kim. (audience applauds) Jina Hyun. (audience applauds)

Su Kim. (audience applauds) Hoseob Jeong. (audience applauds) Yoonki Kim. (audience applauds) Ryan Kim. (audience applauds) Shawn Kim. (audience applauds) Jay Sharma. (audience applauds)

Please join me in giving a round of applause for all of our graduates. (audience applauds and cheers) So as you know, President Comair threw off my program, and I'm just checking to see if he's still with us at this time in the ceremony. Do you want- - Should I check the machine? (laughs) Just want to see. Well, as you can see, I'm still here. (audience laughs) Despite what the machine is saying.

Machine learning, yeah? (audience laughs) Well, anyway, when technology, one thing that I learned over these years, and trust me, I started computer science in 1974. So you can imagine how old that was. So the machine could be right, you know? It's time to go. Who knows? Well, I just wanted to thank everybody. We did a lot of acknowledgement. But there is one group that I believe also needs a lot of our, you know, our thanks and gratefulness, is the staff of DigiPen.

You know, the administrative staff that is there day in, day out, making sure that every single ailment that you had was taken care of. People maybe do not know, but for the 1,200 or 1,300 students that we have at DigiPen USA here, we are about 500 people taking care of you. So it is really a little army, and we need that to keep you at bay. You know? (audience laughs) We need, we watch you every step of the way. So I want to thank all of them really, to actually be there every day, every single day for every single problem that may appear.

And, you know, we made it so far for 35 years. People say that I'm the founder. That is true. But obviously I am not alone.

I cannot do any of that alone. And I needed all this team to share the vision and to share also the dream, because this is a dream. And for all I know is that I'll wake up, and none of that has ever happened. But it is a dream and as long... (phone beeps) I left it over there, and still. (audience laughs) You cannot turn it off. This is the problem.

Seriously, this is one of these devices that you can't turn off, right? So maybe from the beyond, you can still hear me. Remember that tone. Whenever you hear it, I'm behind you. (audience laughs) Here he comes. (audience laughs)

Anyway, so I want, I mean, it's hard to concentrate with this thing all day long beeping like that. Keep taking my pulse to see if I'm still

2023-05-01 09:43

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