Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM) held the commencement ceremony for 47 students from the 2021 class of Fulbright’s Master in Public Policy (MPP2021). It is the second year the commencement ceremony took place in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic with a number of students joining virtually. All the faculty and students present at the ceremony gathered in the solemn yet cozy space of the school campus, sharing warm hugs and smiles as they ended a nearly two-year journey together with a lot of ups and downs.

The ceremony was held after several delays due to the complex development of Covid-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to take place in the summer of 2021 but was delayed until the final week of the year. One week before the event, many MPP2021 students took to social media to share their warm, sincere and heartfelt messages about their unforgettable journey with Fulbright.

Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Director of FSPPM, delivers his opening remarks.

While congratulating fresh graduates, Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Director of FSPPM, stressed that the past two years were challenging, witnessing the maturity of MPP2021 students and making them understand that maturity never comes easily. He expressed his hope that the graduates would take advantage of everything that comes their way as opportunities to grow up and contribute to the development of the community and the country in the post-Covid context.

Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam, congratulates MPP2021 graduates on their accomplishments.

Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam, praised MPP2021 graduates for not only overcoming the challenges of a rigorous, demanding, and international academic environment but also the challenges of a global pandemic. “We, at Fulbright, often say that the Class of MPP2021 is the Class of MPP in the years of Covid-19. The journey that you have overcome to be where you are today has been disrupted and challenged by the outbreaks over the last two years in our country,” she said.

The disruptions and challenges could be about the students’ learning schedules and experience on campus, their work environment and career opportunity, or worse, the choices that they had to make in the critical moments of tragedies that befell their life, she elaborated.

Ms. Thuy expressed her gratitude to all the graduates for they have chosen to not give up, to never quit trying, to never let go of their dreams and commitments. “You are the shining examples of what it means when we speak about the spirit of “Embrace the Uncertainty” at Fulbright,” she said.

Assoc. Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, MPP Program Director, delivers his speech.

Assoc. Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, MPP Program Director, said FSPPM itself has tested its limits and intentionally posed these challenging tests on the students during the last two years. “Together, we have learnt and explored new things in a changing world. Amazingly, these explorations made us more composed, confident, and aware of our inner selves,” he admitted.

He claimed the tough time also offered an opportunity for the Vietnamese government, businesses, and people to demonstrate their resilience; meanwhile, the class of MPP2021 is where all students representing different stakeholders in the society show their visions, their insights, and their attitude towards the rapidly changing world.

Just like in previous years, FSPPM named the graduation ceremony Commencement as they expected that it would begin a new chapter in the life of each graduate. Ms. Dam Bich Thuy hoped that the education at Fulbright had provided the students with the skills and confidence to confront the future ahead – the future many experts have predicted as uncertain, complex, volatile, and ambiguous.

In times of a global crisis due to Covid-19, we are reminded of the importance of public policy and management in our life, she commented, as the effectiveness of a good public policy and strong leadership from the government has been crucial to how countries across the world are combating the pandemic and will continue to be so in our efforts to recover and rebuild our economies.

More than ever, this is the moment for graduates of the Public Policy and Management Program at Fulbright to demonstrate your spirit of being a pioneer, to demonstrate your ability to create positive change for the world and the people around you… Your duty is to apply the valuable knowledge, the skills, and experience that you have learned from Fulbright, and turn them into meaningful actions that will help the people around you, the community, and our society, no matter where you are, or how you wish to take your career further,” she said.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan is the keynote speaker at this year’s graduation.

Traditionally during the FSPPM commencement ceremony, a keynote speech is delivered by someone who has social prestige and makes a considerable contribution to the public policy and management segment. Former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan is that one in this year’s graduation. He said he had great expectations of the Fulbright school’s graduates as the next generation of changemakers in Vietnam and told them to always incorporate the theories they had learnt in the rapidly changing reality to keep them deeply rooted in the Vietnamese context. He hoped they would nourish their talent and virtue on the mission to serve the country. After delivering his speech, the former Deputy PM participated in a Q&A session with MPP2021 students and shared about his own experiences and lessons in his economic diplomacy career with distinguished achievements.

Dao Thien Ly, a graduate of MPP2021-PA class, expressed her joy for overcoming all difficulties and challenges to achieve her goal on the educational path: the noble Master in Public Policy diploma granted by the Fulbright school.

Looking back on our journey, each of us sitting here cannot forget the nights we stayed up to complete all the assignments. The 8:20 deadline gave us goosebumps many times. Although we submitted our assignments, sometimes we forgot to press the turn-in button and received zeros. I am still shivered thinking about these deadline mishaps,” Ly said.

Dao Thien Ly, a graduate of MPP2021-PA class, delivers this year’s student speech.

She claimed that the diversified student base at Fulbright gave her the chance to learn from her classmates to acquire not only academic knowledge but also the attitude, manner, empathy, and mutual respect, and she thus became a better version of herself.

On behalf of MPP2021 graduates, I’d like to say we are committed to doing our best to be worthy of being a Fulbright student with knowledge, competence, and integrity, and we are ready to make a positive impact in any career field,” she said.

Thuy Hang