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Convocation Speech by iMEP Student Kameron Schroeder

08-27-2018

Convocation Speech by iMEP Student Kameron Schroeder

-Kameron Schroeder, Class of 2020

Hello Everyone.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know a few of you over the past days, but I feel it is appropriate to introduce myself to you all. My name is Kameron Schroeder and I am a first-year graduate student in the International Master of Environmental Policy program.

I was born and raised in the United States in Sacramento, California. Living in California, I was fortunate to be close to the Pacific Ocean and also beautiful natural parks like Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. I spent many vacations as a kid exploring the tide pools and learning to surf. I love the ocean and knew that I wanted to do something in my life that involved it. Fortunately, I was tall, athletic and earned good grades. As an undergraduate, I attended Duke University in Durham, North Carolina on a football scholarship. When I wasn’t at football practice, I was in the classroom working hard to get my Bachelor degree in Environmental Science and Policy.

During the summer of my senior year at Duke, I was able to intern at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For those of you who have seen the Pixar movie “Finding Dory”, that is the aquarium the movie is based on.  As an intern there I handled many specimens of sharks, dolphins, whales, and various other sea creatures. I was able to organize their specimen collection and create a website that allowed employees to easily search for specimens and locate them.

After graduation this past summer I interned with the Solano County Water Agency at Lake Berryessa in Napa, California. I spent my summer inspecting boats and other watercraft for various aquatic invasive species to help educate boaters and prevent them from infesting the lake.

Until my time at Duke University I had never ventured outside of the United States, but the more I studied, the more I realized that environmental issues require global cooperation. My first trip outside of the United States, to Mexico City during my third year at Duke further cemented these ideals and I found myself with a desire to interact with global scholars and learn with students of other cultures.

When I began to prepare to apply for graduate school, I was fortunate enough to have classmates who had visited Duke Kunshan and they shared glowing remarks about the campus, the professors, and the students they met while they were there for a brief period. Additionally, brilliant professors I had been fortunate enough to learn from while at Duke University’s Durham campus shared their desire to follow me to Kunshan and teach for a semester while I am here.

These glowing reviews ultimately compelled me to turn in my application for the iMEP program at Duke Kunshan and when I found out that I had been accepted and additionally had received a scholarship I was elated. Though I have to admit at the same time I was a little nervous having never ventured so far from home.

Now that I am here, I know I have made the right choice. In this room right now there are many capable young minds that will be studying Global Health, Medial Physics, and iMEP. Even though the subjects we study over the next 2 years may be different, I’m sure we will collaborate even though it may not be in a classroom setting.

Though the world is filled with doom and gloom over global crises such as Anthropogenic Climate Change, Poverty, World Hunger, and Disease, with global cooperation and new scientific breakthroughs, we can mitigate and solve these problems. We are all capable future leaders of an increasingly globalized world and with effort and diligence we can all help to shape the future of our world for the better.

I’d like to end my speech with a quote from Carl Sagan that was made when he viewed Earth through a picture taken by the Voyager 1 space probe from six billion kilometers away, a pale speck of light from this distance, that I cherish and find appropriate for this situation:

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”