Woz's wisdom and the generosity that defines us
Undergrad commencement celebrates 100 years of engineering and 50 years of women on the Mission campus
The Woz: Watch the speech.
As Santa Clara University’s undergraduate class of 2012 celebrated earning their bachelor’s degrees, they also received some sound life advice from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak—advice that is a little easier to follow now that they’re out of college: “Don’t ever do something just because it’s an assignment. You better believe there is some end goal that is good for the world.”
Some 1,200 students received degrees in Buck Shaw Stadium on a warm June 16 morning. They chanted “Woz! Woz!” in admiration of the Silicon Valley legend, whom many credit with helping launch the personal computer industry. He asked the new grads to think about what makes a good life.
Currently chief scientist at Fusion-io, Woz is a longtime supporter of education, especially math, electronics, and science for children in the Bay Area. He said individuality, creativity, and the desire to do good led to his first computer invention nearly 35 years ago. His presence in June was especially fitting as the School of Engineering celebrated its 100th anniversary.
What life is about
Civil engineering major Nathan Rogers '12 delivered the valedictory address. Rogers completed one of the many senior design projects targeting developing nations. He said that work—building a safe, sustainable, and affordable house for use in West Africa—yielded an important epiphany.
“For the first time I saw with stunning clarity: This is what life is about, this is what happiness is, and this is what it means to live a constructive life,” he said. He spoke of the systematic generosity that defines the University, and how “the greatest gift Santa Clara has given us is the realization that as educated people we have tremendous potential to generate meaningful change throughout the world.”
These seniors done good: On left, Jose Dorador, winner of the Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. Award, followed by Drew Hodun, winner of the Nobili Medal, and Tanya Schmidt, winner of the St. Clare medal. Rose-colored glasses? For marketing major Briana Knight, right, that would be a definite yes. Photos by Charles Barry
Our first alumna
The first woman to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara is Mary Somers Edmunds ’62, who earned her sheepskin 50 years ago. This June she was honored with an honorary doctorate, in recognition of the important milestone—when Santa Clara became California’s first co-ed Catholic university—and the courage it took to be a pioneering student.
Graduate commencement: do more, be more
Graduate commencement took place the evening of Friday, June 15, at the University’s Leavey Center. Martha J. Kanter, the U.S. Under Secretary of Education, reminded SCU’s new recipients of advanced degrees in engineering, business, education and counseling psychology, and pastoral ministries that they are among a select few, since less than 8 percent of the U.S. population holds graduate degrees. Kanter encouraged: “You can do more, you can be more, you can lift others, and you can change and improve our world.”
The Jesuit School of Theology held commencement exercises on Saturday, May 19, at the University Christian Church of Berkeley. While graduates were only four dozen in number, they hail from all over the world: from Burkina Faso to Vietnam, India to Lebanon, Poland to Cameroon, as well as North America. A leading African Jesuit, Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J., delivered a commencement address that delved into the importance of respecting cultural context in theology.
“In the midst of a rampant globalization ... theology does not float above culture and context,” he said. He spoke of “the demands of faith for daily living” and the unique challenges awaiting today’s theologians, including how rapid information flow “stirs up endless questions of theological import in fields and disciplines as far-flung as business ethics, medical and bioethics, developmental economics, war, migration, technology, terrorism, ecology, family, sexuality, and cosmology.”
Law commencement: Use your powers for good
Some 300 law grads gathered in the Mission Gardens on May 19 and received, along with their degrees, wisdom shared by Paul van Zyl, a key architect of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation commission.
“I believe how a country treats the weakest and the worst offers a telling window into its soul,” van Zyl said, “and that legitimizing the erosion of fundamental rights opens a Pandora’s box. Once the violations begin, they set a precedent, diminish moral outrage, and are seldom confined to that infinitely malleable definition of ‘the enemy.’”
Van Zyl, who received an honorary doctorate of laws, is the former executive secretary of the Truth and Reconciliation commission. From 1995 to 1998 he helped develop the structure, modus operandi, and operations of the commission, which was charged with investigating and reconciling victims and perpetrators of South Africa's apartheid-era crimes.
In 2011, the law school honored van Zyl with the Alexander Law Prize, awarded to top lawyers who have used their legal careers to combat injustice and inequity. Van Zyl is now the CEO of Maiyet, a “double–bottom line” company known for pioneering new approaches to human rights protection. In 2001 van Zyl co-founded the International center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), advising countries including Colombia, Morocco, East Timor, and Bosnia-Herzegovina on how to recover from mass atrocity.
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