[The 28th Congregation] Dean's Welcoming Address and Valedictory Speeches

Welcoming Address by Prof. Kun-Pyo Lee, Dean of School of Design and Swire Chair Professor of Design, Alex Wong Siu Wah Gigi Wong Fook Chi Professor in Product Design Engineering

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Valedictory Speech by Miss VONG Ka Hei - PM Session

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Valedictory Speech by Miss CHOW Hiu Yim Ceci - AM Session

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Congregation Speaker, Mr Henry SteinerSchool of Design Honorary Professor and Founder of Steiner&Co.

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Welcoming Address by Prof. Kun-Pyo LeeDean of School of Design and Swire Chair Professor of Design, Alex Wong Siu Wah Gigi Wong Fook Chi Professor in Product Design Engineering

Dear students, my warmest welcome to this year’s congregation.
I would like to express my sincere congratulations to students graduating in the face of social unrest and an ongoing pandemic.

You have earned the deserved respect of myself, professors, the School and Hong Kong. Bravo!

Your courage is indeed our pride. Behind you, strongly stand family and friends who have helped you along the way. We salute them too! Thank you for always being there.

As designers, we see the world changing around us every day, and at great speed too.

Digital transformation is accelerating, and along with that, AI is rapidly replacing designer’s unique skill sets. Your creativity is key.

These transformations need to be human-centred, and that is where designers can add value.

I would like to emphasize the importance of data. You must become
tech ‘athletes’ – target scientists, coders and engineers to help you tackle highly complex design problems.

Indeed, students may have graduated in one area, but design is multi-disciplinary. You’ll not only be working within the bounds of your programme, but be working with other disciplines in an ever complex level of design.

Using an inter-disciplinary mindset, your designer’s creativity can be applied to non-design disciplines.

It’s the reason we are transforming both our education and research around these trends.

Changes made to the Foundation Year and Master of Design curricula keep us at the forefront of design globally.

For Art and Design, we currently rank 16th out of 2500 institutions globally in the QS World University Rankings.

Our belief is that excellent schools are built by communities. We look forward to a new era of Hong Kong dynamism fuelled by a community of ambitious, risk-taking talent from our School.

Remember – We are not individuals, but rather, a collective. And that, my friends, is where you all come in.

When you succeed, we also succeed, and vice-versa.

Your studies may be ending, but the working life is just beginning.

It’s just as well, the world needs innovators and adventurers with an international mindset, more than ever.

As Poly U grads, you are among the best. Show your abilities, creativity, teamwork, professionalism and strong ethics.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to extend your knowledge and experience to global issues.

Design problems are both complicated and critical. Whether it is  sustainability, ESG, inequality or ageing, we need to think less about ‘how’, but more about ‘why’.

Inequality is also a critical issue impacting the future of the planet; make one of your passions helping the underprivileged.

The world can be very different to what you now know, so keep an open mind and be curious, inclusive and critical.

Keep that in mind as you progress, and remember to update us on your work, adventures and news, whether they are ‘successes’ or ‘failures’ – all your work is a platform for debate, development and progression.

You are explorers – the road will not always be smooth. Embrace  uncertainty and believe in your abilities.

Whatever happens, we never stand alone. You are invaluable to us – this will always be a place you can call home.

Your alma mater will always be a vital source to meet people, increase your network, and learn about new industries.

You might even want to come back and join a lecture, or even give one to our students!

The best of luck, and may you be forever successful.

Go out there and make us proud.

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Valedictory Speech by Miss VONG Ka Hei - PM Session

Good afternoon and welcome honourable guests, School of Design, Dean Lee and the graduates of 2022.

To the graduates of 2022, congratulations and great job, we have graduated in the face of a two year pandemic.

I would like to say “Thank you” to PolyU for giving me a degree and the privilege to deliver this speech for the congregation of 2022. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on my university days and I can’t help but recall a lot of fond memories.

Having said that, Year One was intense and confusing. With projects like “Body Extension” and “Narrative Framing”, I do remember our group model broke just one week before submission, and the sleepless nights spent installing our models at four am in Temple Street. Daniel and Henry were very honest about projects, perhaps too honest, that sometimes they neglected our feelings. Some of us cried, but I did really enjoy their way of teaching. In the end, they always gave us a list of questions for us to reflect and improve. Furthermore, when they gave compliments, it felt like winning an Oscar. Thank you, Daniel, and Henry, for your amazing teaching.

I recall days where our models and drawings piled up the studio. We would work late at night with strong coffee and hyper music. I remember the day we were tired of the critiques and started playing “Thomas 小火車” in our models and Kuo stared at us with an disbelieving expression. We used to gather in circles after tutorials, discussing our projects and feedback. We exchange ideas, and beliefs, and sometimes debates, we explored everything together, and I cherish all these moments.

The greatest lesson I learnt in university is the true meaning of passion and productivity. When I chose to study design, I believed I should work very hard for it. For every studio project, I was working days and nights, seven days per week. I was so attached to the project that I detached from living. I forgot to ask how my parents and friends were doing, forgot to hang out with them, make time for them… Moreover, perfectionism stepped in, where I became more anxious that things were not going in the direction I expected. I was in a toxic cycle of labour.

However, after all those experiences, I believe being passionate and productive does not mean to solely focus on one goal, but rather enhance the balance of life, and help us live to the fullest. As Cara Delevingne once said “When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfilment and gratitude, and that’s when you can do your best for yourself and others”. Long walks at the beach, city or village should be encouraged, especially as a time to bond with family and as a moment to observe the surroundings.

My final year and during job interviews, people asked me: “What do you want to do in the future?”, “What kind of projects do you want to work on?”, or “What is your career plan?” … To whoever asked those questions, I do not know the answer. I don’t have an organised and calculated career plan. When it comes to decision making, I often hesitated and felt intimidated because I was afraid of making the “wrong choices”. Nevertheless, there are no right choices. In every decision, there are consequences and benefits, and remember that nothing lasts forever. Being in an ever changing environment with both external and inner pressure meant that we would feel defeated and lost at times. Therefore, I would like to encourage all of us to always remember why we started, stay true to your passion, and just keep trying.

Let me take this opportunity to appreciate the hard work and education provided by faculty members and university authorities.

Thank you professors, for not only presenting us with knowledge, but also understanding.

Thank you to all the cleaning staff, for keeping our studios organised and our models secure.

Thank you parents, for your unconditional love, patience, and support during our studies.

Thank you, friends, for being the greatest source of encouragement and helping hands in times of need. I would like to acknowledge my university besties, Emily and Ellie, you guys are my greatest source of inspiration.

Once again, congratulations to the class of 2022.

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Valedictory Speech by Miss CHOW Hiu Yim Ceci - AM Session

Dear guests, teachers, fellow schoolmates and parents, welcome to the School of Design Congregation.

My name is Ceci and it is my honour to be the representative of the graduating class this year.

There have been plenty of memorable and remarkable moments in our time here. Having walked the same journey as my classmates. I would like to give the following notes of thanks on behalf of the graduating class:

I would like to thank SD The School of Design, which has provided me with abundant opportunities to fulfil my potential. I have learned our role as designer and creator is not just problem-solving and providing elegant solutions. The impact of good design reach far into our culture and society.

Paul Rand said:“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.”

SD has made the impossible possible. We learned to create everything from zero.

Designers are dreamers. We aspire to create our own projects, launch our own campaigns and make the world a better place. The School of Design is full of visionaries who expand our horizons.

As Digital Media Design (DM) students, we are passionate about watching animations, movies and reading stories. But today, I am grateful to share my own story with all of you.

Many people ask me what a SD student being is all about.

I would say studying at SD has trained me to be multi-skilled, we have learned to become storytellers as well as animators or film makers. We use different media to create our stories.

There is more than one way to create, and all skills are transferable.

In this fast-changing world, being familiar with different media gives us a competitive edge to be flexible. I always find it interesting that even if we have different ambitions, we can still study together and learn from each other, no matter which path we ultimately take.

This is a crucial skill that will help us throughout our careers.

I have loved drawing since I was small, but I never thought that my works could be shown in theatres. I can now confidently write a story, create animation and make a film, and show it to the world. This passion to create and share has built a strong bond among ourselves, but can also influence people.

Staying in the studio and working through the night was often a great and unforgettable experience for us to strengthen our friendships. We worked, ate, played, and slept in our studio. Most importantly, we grew up together. Challenged by different projects, we faced pressure and tight schedules. We became friends and comrades in arms. Without you guys, I could not have finished this degree. We now also have a strong bond with people who graduate in SD, and practice in this industry, to take out into the world.

SD is a big family. I would like to express my greatest appreciation to my tutors and friends for their support. Our tutors were parents on campus who guided, supported and took care of us. We were able to share every happy moment and problems with them. They give us the freedom to explore. Special thanks must go to Jae and Step, for giving us criticism when we fell in love with our ideas too much! They always put us back on track and encouraged us to step out of our comfort zone, they also helped broaden our horizons by showing us interesting things to help us to be better. I would not be where I am today without you guys by my side.

It is my pleasure to be valedictorian this year. I know what we learned from SD will last because design thinking skills matter. They will keep guiding us to make better decisions and influence society for the better.

But before that… take a rest and think back to how we conquered these two years at the School of Design. Congratulations to all of you! I wish you all continue to tackle design challenges and emerge triumphant in your work and your life. Good luck and keep in touch!

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