‘Be open, be hopeful’: Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s mantra for class of 2020


Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants today’s youth to “be open, hopeful and impatient” and has the faith that they have a “chance to change everything” as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

The advice was for the graduating class off 2020 who Pichai addressed on Sunday in a virtual ceremony, organised by Google’s video platform You Tube. The event was called Dear Class of 2020.

“I don’t think this is the graduation ceremony any of you imagined. At a time when you should be celebrating all the knowledge you’ve gained, you may be grieving what you’ve lost: the moves you planned, the jobs you earned, and the experiences you were looking forward to. In bleak moments like these, it can be difficult to find hope,” Pichai said

Referring to the crises that previous generations of students faced, such as class of 1920 graduating at the end of a pandemic, the class of 1970 graduating in the middle of Vietnam War in 1970 and the class of 2001 graduating few months before the 9/11 attacks, Pichai asked the students to be hopeful.

“Be open, be impatient, be hopeful. If you can do that, history will remember the Class of 2020 not for what you lost, but for what you changed. You have the chance to change everything. I am optimistic you will.”

“…and in all cases, they prevailed. The long arc of history tells us we have every reason to be hopeful. So, be hopeful,” he said.

The India-born Alphabet CEO drew from his personal experience and the challenges he faced in his early years in the US. He said that he grew up without much access to technology and his first time on a plane was when he came to Stanford for higher education.

“My father spent the equivalent of a year’s salary on my plane ticket to the US so I could attend Stanford. It was my first time ever on a plane,” Pichai said adding that a bright spot for him during that time was computing.

“The only thing that got me from here to there—other than luck—was a deep passion for technology, and an open mind,” he added.

The graduation ceremony, streamed on You Tube, was attended by former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, Korean pop group BTS, singers Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, former Defense Secretary Robert M Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and activist Malala Yousafzai.

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