On 25 April 2017, 102 IHE Delft water professionals from 43 different countries received their MSc diploma during the closing ceremony of the academic period 2015-2017. The graduates are now part of the IHE alumni community that comprises over 15,000 water professionals working and living in more than 160 countries. During the course of 2017 many more students will graduate from our joint and double degree programmes.
Future water leaders
Social Cultural Officer Gina Forno addressed the graduates who were soon to be alumni. In her speech, Gina said ''you have learned about water, you have learned about yourselves and now it is time to go home. You are on the crest of your wave.''
Dr. Fritz Holzwarth, IHE's Rector a.i. said that it is an interesting coincidence that we held our 60th anniversary conference yesterday. The theme of the conference was 'Impact of IHE Delft in a changing landscape'. You are becoming the new water ambassadors for the impact of this Institute. This is a great bridge from yesterday to today.
On arrival in Delft students had to adapt to Dutch habits, climate and new landscape. Thanks to the Dutch families from the Meet the Dutch programme and to Student Affairs, the graduates learned to adjust to the Dutch culture.
Dr. Holzwarth added, ''when you return home, a lot of expectations are on your shoulders: you are expected to serve the community for human, societal development and justice, to implement the human right to water, to implement and contribute to Sustainable Developement Goal 6 (SDG6), access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Furthermore you are the future for better water management, the future of innovation and progress. It does not mean that you neglect what other water professionals have achieved, but that you open new pages in the water wisdom book. Water needs passion. I hope that your passion will be the driving force for your future professional life. Your diploma is the key to opening doors, not only for yourselves, also for others.
I quote Steve Jobs: ''Most important is to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become, Everything else is secondary.''
He also thanked all the donors, including the Dutch Government, the Rotary Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who make studying at IHE Delft a possibility for many students.
During the closing ceremony Prof. Janet Hering was awarded the IHE Delft Honorary Fellowship. The Institute recognizes that Prof. Janet Hering is a well-known and respected scientist in the area of water and the environment. She is also Director of EAWAG, which has had outstanding research and education collaboration with IHE Delft for the benefit of developing countries.
Your time at IHE Delft will change your life forever
Gil Garcetti, Cultural Ambassador of IHE Delft said to the graduates, ''you might understand that your time here at IHE Delft will change your life forever. In the years to come, you will appreciate the accuracy of that statement even more. But don’t forget this: you will be working in professional fields that will affect and maybe even change the lives of people in your own country. That is a heavy responsibility.''
Gil Garcetti was commissioned by IHE Delft to visit Kenya, Bangladesh and Colombia to meet with alumni and capture in photography the impact that their work is having on their community and their country.
''I believe you would be inspired by their stories – their stories of how they used their IHE Delft degrees to reach the position each holds today and the important work each is doing. And in every instance you would find that all 14 alumni had been inspired by someone older and more experienced than them. I make you one promise, one day, and it will come sooner than you expect, you will have the opportunity to inspire a young woman or man -- and you will do it. You will do it because that is who you are. And you will do it because you know you were given a unique privilege - the privilege of attending and graduating from the 'Harvard' of the water world, IHE Delft. You are about to be part of a very special group of people. Today you become almuni of IHE Delft. In the world of water, no one can ever top you. Leave here with humility as well as confidence. Believe in youself. Believe that you can make a difference in our world and you will make a difference.''
Words of Inspiration
Dr. Lapologang Magole, PhD, Chairperson WaterNet Board; University of Botswana gave a inspiring speech. ''If you plan for a hundred years, educate children. Education is a vision and you are part of this vision. Today, you will be certificated, this is not the same as education. Education is deeper and livelong. Evidence of your education is what you do with this certificate. You will be the captain of your ship and decide your legacy.''
Make a change
Before the diploma presentation started, student representatives Mr. Nnebuo Chidiebere Samuel from Nigeria and Ms. Viviane Virgolim from Brazil gave a passionate speech about their IHE Delft experiences. They took the audience through their study journey, with many new social and cultural experiences, like the first day in the Netherlands, the cold weather, riding a bike and eating Dutch dishes, but also being able to learn in such a culturally diverse environment. The last 18 months have seen us being equipped with the latest tools, techniques, concepts and technologies, and most importantly ingenuity to think out sustainable solutions for water related problems at our home countries. Do not return to your home countries and maintain the status quo, make a change!'', they urged.