Following 18 months of hard work as MSc students at IHE Delft, the 119 brand new graduates have big tasks ahead of them, speakers during the 12 May graduation ceremony said: they need to speak out on the importance of water, and they need to change the world for the better.
The students, water professionals from 60 countries, began their studies in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced much of their teaching online. Their joy over being able to graduate in person during a celebration with their fellow students, teachers, family, friends, embassy representatives and other guests was evident, with spontaneous cheers and clapping interspersing the ceremony.
IHE Delft Rector Professor Eddy Moors said the water-related fields the graduates had studied respond to global needs and challenges.
“They are challenges that are related to human health, to the health of ecosystems degradation, floods and droughts. With the change in conditions, those challenges are becoming bigger and bigger. I am happy – and I’m sure a lot of other people are as well – that you will join the efforts to overcome these challenges, to reduce the impact of them,” he said.
He welcomed that young people are increasingly being listened to and offered a space on the podia at the international level, including at United Nations fora. He encouraged the graduates to stand up speak out on the importance of water, not only when interacting with fellow water professionals, but also to engage those involved in other sectors such as energy, agriculture and health.
“I hope you will become a real water leader,” he said. “Take people by the hand and pull them with you to make a better life possible by improving water availability and the quality of water around the world.”
The graduation speech was delivered by Teresa Liguori, who earned her IHE Delft degree 10 years ago and recently directed the World Water Council’s World Water Forum in Dakar Senegal.
She told the students that her experience at IHE Delft changed her life completely. “Studying at IHE was the strongest experience of my life. Here I learned everything about water,” she said. “But I also learned about people, about collaboration and cooperation, and it’s this combination of these aspects that will make you change the world.”
She told the students they have all what’s needed to make an impact – scientific knowledge from their education, and a network in the form of IHE Delft’s 23,000 alumni. She said she encouraged the graduates to “go out there and do change the world,” and to remember where they came from when they work “to make life of other people better, to improve the sanitation and water for people around the world, to make people live in dignity.”
MSc graduate Qurratul Ain Contractor from India shared a statement against hate and violence on behalf of the students. Recent developments in Ukraine has spiked fear in many students who come from countries at war, she said, adding they were shocked by racist treatment of African and Asian students trying to flee the war in Ukraine. “We feel compelled to denounce all forms of violence, persecution and hate categorically and unequivocally, against people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, social classes, religions, genders and sexual orientations,” she said.
Sherine Elwattar from Egypt, President of the class Student Association Board, delivered a passionate speech highlighting the ups and downs of her time at IHE Delft. “I express my gratitude to water. Water is the reason we are all alive. Water teaches me about my own humanness,” she said. “Water teaches me about people, communities, life, sadness, happiness.”