American Ambassador, Sumida City Mayor Highlight a US Campus Commencement
US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, and Sumida-ku Mayor, Toru Yamamoto, were the guest speakers at the recent Commencement Ceremony of Lakeland University Japan (LUJ) on December 3.
Ambassador Emanuel in a taped message described the challenges the LUJ graduates had faced in spending much of their final years studying online in isolation and finally reuniting with their classmates in the last semesters of their academic careers. He repeatedly congratulated the LUJ students for their fortitude and wished them successful futures and expressed the hope some of them would continue their education in the United States.
Mayor Yamamoto offered heartfelt wishes in person at the ceremony in the conference center of the new campus in Ryogoku. He expressed excitement at participating in a graduation ceremony at an American University campus of gradates from diverse nations in an area steeped in Japanese tradition and history.
The President of Lakeland University, Dr. Elizabeth Borgen, congratulated the LUJ graduates on reaching their goals and becoming part of the more than 10,000 graduates from the home campus in Wisconsin, the Japan campus and around the world.
The student speaker, Bobur Gulmetov,, a citizen of Uzbekistan, reflected the international character of the campus, where the student body comprises more than 40 nationalities. In his very moving speech, Mr. Gulmetov praised his deceased mother, whom he lost as a teenager. for urging him to study English and Japanese as a child and encouraging him to excel.
Mr. Gulmetov, fluent in six languages, noted in his speech that the international character of LUJ had well prepared him for a successful future. He mentioned that he had received three significant job offers before deciding to accept the one from the prestigious Peninsula Hotel now that he had completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business.
Although for nearly three decades, LUJ only offered Associate of Arts degrees, this graduation ceremony marked the first time more Bachelor of Arts degrees were conferred than Associate of Arts degrees. It was also only the second time that the conference center in the new Ryogoku campus located near the Edo Museum and the Sumo arena, was used for a Commencement Ceremony.
As Dr. Alan Brender, Dean of LUJ, pointed out in his welcoming address, that LUJ reflects the old and the new just like Ryogoku itself with the modernistic Sky Tree towering over the many monuments to and remnants of the Edo period. The graduates attired in their azure blue gowns topped by gold hoods and wearing tasseled mortarboards reflected the traditional academic garb of the Middle Ages, but the bright colors accentuated a more modern era. Gone were the black gowns and drab hoods of the past. Although LUJ only moved to its current campus in January 2022, it has been educating young people in Japan for well over 30 years. The main campus in Wisconsin dates back to 1862, but it continues to create innovative programs both in the US and in Japan. Most recently, it created a comprehensive Cooperative Program and introduced it to the Japan campus last January. In this program, students earn college credits while working. The program in Japan has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. Many of the graduates at the Commencement Ceremony experienced COOP opportunities, including Mr. Gulmetov, which have opened unique employments doors to them.