By DANIEL WANG
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
As the weather gets warmer and the flowers start to bloom, we know graduation season is approaching. We are very pleased to announce that the three recipients of IEP’s Wolf Award were all UPP Students! This year, on May 6, 27 students graduated from the University Performance Program after an academic year of hard work and earning at least six UPP credits. Thirteen of these students also earned the perfect UPP Attendance certificate. Congratulations as well to our UPP Honors students Jessica Xiaorui Qu, Ling Mao, Wenting Zheng and Naomi Nan Sun for their exceptional efforts, resilience and motivation! Lastly, four students demonstrated incredible growth and performance in both academics, extracurricular activities, community service and cultural engagement. These students were awarded the New Mind Education’s Songtao Scholarship of $1000 each! Congratulations Tom Tianming Liu, Jessica Xiaorui Qu, Ling Mao and Wenting Zheng!
To the students, this graduation was meaningful in many different ways. It reflected a year of building lasting friendships, surviving American culture shock, making breakthroughs with the language barrier and gaining valuable experiences that they will benefit from for a long time. Graduation may mark the end of their journey with UPP, but it is also a new beginning for their future education.
The ceremony took place at University Towers with a reception on the pool patio. Students gathered together and enjoyed taking pictures with each other, especially since so many dressed up in formal attire. “It was my first time dressing up like this, and I am so happy to see many others here at the graduation,” Kai Deng said. “It will be a great memory for me.” There was also a photo booth where students could take pictures with peers and advisors with funny props, such as giant classes and fake hair. Additionally, one advisor loaned their Polaroid camera for the event. “We all love the instant camera, it is a lot of fun,” Amy Liu said.
It was also a special day for Shuai Zhao because his brother was getting married in China on the day of graduation. Shuai had mixed feelings of grief and joy. “I am so sad that I cannot be at my brother’s wedding, but I am also very happy about what I have accomplished this past year,” Zhao said. Shuai also invited Alyx, his UPP advisor, to join him in a short video and sent their blessings to his brother who is thousands of miles away. It was probably the sweetest moment that happened during the graduation reception.
After the reception, the graduation ceremony began at 8:30 in UT’s dining hall. Michael Chen, the founder of New Mind Education, was the keynote speaker for the graduation. He congratulated students for their efforts and told the students to be proud of themselves, regardless of whether they had passed IEP or not. All the UPP advisors also gave a speech about their groups and took pictures with their students. “The speeches are so touching and I am almost crying,” Xinhua Du said. “Le is a great advisor and she truly helped me a lot.” Jessica Qu also commented on the advisors’ speeches, “They have not only summarized everything in the past year but also encouraged us to look to the future.”
There were many rewards and certificates given out during the ceremony, such as graduation certificates, perfect attendance certificates, honors medals and scholarship awards. “It is a great feeling to be recognized with so many rewards,” Lingchao Mao said.
“I cannot believe that I won this scholarship, I am so excited and I need to tell my parents,” Tianming Liu said after he won one of the Songtao Scholarships.
Many students had very positive comments on the food provided during the graduation. “The cake was so great! It was not so sweet like other American cakes I had before, this cake tastes like the ones we have back in China,” Qu said. “It is simply amazing.”
Every student, regardless of whether they earned enough credits to graduate, received a photo album from all the student life events as well as a personalized card from their advisor.
“The photos were my favorite gift I got from graduation. The photo album is filled with memories and I am glad to see myself in it,” Rick Zhou said.
Theresa Liao had a great suggestion for this event. “The slide show during the graduation could become a more significant part. It would be great if we, as students, could also add pictures to the slides before we graduate.”
Constantine Zong may have had the best comment about the graduation ceremony. “Today is perfect, not because of my outfits, but simply because I am graduating and I cannot wait to get into college!”