"My dear graduates, today you will receive a
degree, but soon you will discover that this special event is only a first
step on a long road. In fact, in many ways, today marks a new beginning
in your life."
"This rebirth is lauded in a commencement ceremony and the
tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages is a service in
celebration of and thanksgiving for lives dedicated to learning and
wisdom: learning you have
achieved by following the light of knowledge, and wisdom you have
acquired from experience and mentoring with love from your family, who
supported you throughout your journey."
"You are living in a special age, the age of
information, and you came to Caltech seeking new knowledge.
Information itself is not necessarily useful knowledge, and both
information and knowledge are not sufficient to synthesize wisdom.
One needs a proper education combined with experience -- and it
helps to have, of course, good genes, so try to choose your parents
"When I came to the
United States in 1969, I was not dreaming of a
Nobel Prize (or a Pulitzer
prize), nor I was dreaming of acquiring a Bill Gates fortune. Armed with
the excellent education I received in Egypt, I was simply on a quest for
knowledge and a Ph.D. degree from a reputable institution in this land
"It was Caltech's ambiance and the country's
system of support that made it possible for a young assistant
professor to carry out, with his team, research that in only ten
years' time would
define a discipline that was
the Nobel Prize in 1999."