The Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) held the graduation ceremony for 54 students from the 2020 class of Fulbright's Master in Public Policy. The graduation ceremony took place in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic with a number of students taking part online. All the faculty and students present at the ceremony gathered in the solemn yet cozy space of the school campus with their hearts filled with emotions as they ended a nearly two-year journey together.
Just like in previous years, FSPPM leaders and faculty named the graduation ceremony Commencement as they expected that FSPPM students will set off on a new journey for the next strides in their career and life after enriching their knowledge and academic skills with Fulbright's master program.
Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, MPP Program Director, reminded participants of many generations of FSPPM students who got the access to a modern education to become leaders, economic experts, managers, policy analysts, and responsible citizens who contributed their parts to the country's reform efforts.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Duy Nghia
He said that the 54 graduates of MPP19 and MPP20 classes this year would follow that same invaluable tradition of the school to represent new balancing forces in the society, including an increasingly reforming public sector, a dynamic private economy and a diverse civil society that increasingly reflect the interests and aspirations of the people.
Dr. Tran Thi Que Giang, FSPPM Faculty member, told students there are two sides of a degree scroll: its front honors the name of the new MPP20 Master, while its back embodies the entire journey leading to this honor.
"It symbolizes the journey of every student, hard wired with the obsessive 8:20 deadline, filled with challenging exams and essays, happy and sad memories with friends, teachers, schools, and family during his or her study time. The front of the degree is indeed a continuity. We all know today is called Commencement, or a new start, a new journey that follows the one just has been passed.
"The value of the degree you are about to receive today, is not just the knowledge you have learned, because knowledge is never static but changing and requiring constant updates. More importantly, these are the habits, methods, and thinking that have been harnessed, experienced, and practiced with intensity, instilling the core values in each and every Fulbrighter that resonate through our ability to self-learn, to think critically and constructively with evidence, through the spirit of public service, integrity, and professionalism."
Dr. Tran Thi Que Giang
As for FSPPM, these Fulbrighters' legacy is the inspiration and motivation for the faculty and school leaders to design, adjust and build the teaching framework as well as make reforms to each subject or lecture.
"You are the ones who contribute to build, preserve and spread the values of Fulbright school. Without your active participation, the classes would have been less exciting, the teachers would have been less enthusiastic. Without your involvement, the values of Fulbright school would have stayed here in these four walls and never been known by the society and community," Giang emphasized.
Traditionally during FSPPM graduation ceremony, a keynote speech is delivered by someone who has social prestige and makes considerable contribution to the public policy and management segment. Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, a National Assembly member, is that one in this year's graduation. He shared his personal story about how he kept updating knowledge and his thinking to make further progresses. He told students if they failed to enrich their knowledge, change their mindset and learn new things, they would not do their jobs well and would lag behind in this rapid changing society.
In his congratulations sent to new MPP holders online, Dr. Ian Bickford, FUV Provost, emphasized the values practiced at Fulbright and FSPPM, including a commitment to public service and social responsibility.
"And education, we believe, is the bedrock of service to others and responsible citizenship," he said.
Dr. Ian Bickford joining the Commencement virtually
Dr. Bae Yooil, FSPPM Lecturer, said the difficulties stemming from Covid-19 pandemic over the past few months had given him some enlightenment.
"I realized again how blessed it is to be in a good community. I learned again how much our students relied on each other, taking classes, doing group projects and writing theses in tight schedules. You became real brothers and sisters while studying at FSPPM," he said.
According to Dr. Bae, it may be said that the purpose of studying public policy is to understand decisions that affect people's daily lives and learn how to solve problems. However, one of the goals of public policy education he wants to emphasize is cultivating good citizens, good community members, and good society.
MPP Graduate Vo Thanh Trung
Vo Thanh Trung, a graduate of MPP2020-LM class, expressed his gratitude to the leaders and lecturers of FSPPM for their dedication and patience, guiding students throughout the three semesters.
"The profound lesson we all went through was resource allocation. For me, the takeaway is that the relationship between Resources and Effectiveness is nonlinearity. This is most evident when we faced the impact of the acute respiratory infection pandemic, severely disrupting our thesis progress. With thorough consideration, Dean of the school made two decisions. The first one, which increased implementation duration, allowed us to significantly increase the quality of research. The second decision, definitively ending the execution period, created the highest efficiency for the whole process.
"We have been facing the barrier of thinking every day, being afraid of differences in thoughts, subjective or fear of changes. With the knowledge acquired from Fulbright school, we are overcoming those barriers, full of inspired thinking, to take on the responsibility of being the leaders of change."
Ho Bao Tram from MPP2020-PA class said she had received a great deal of added values at FSPPM.
"I have been greatly expanding my knowledge, broadening new perspectives, and learning to approach problems more calmly from various dimensions. Specific memories or stories may fade away, but I believe that the core values learned from the school, including integrity, discipline and spirit of service, will always accompany us."
MPP Graduate Ho Bao Tram