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Introduction by Dean Alexis Abramson:
It is now my pleasure to introduce Joshua De La Cruz to deliver the student address.
Joshua epitomizes what it means to be a Dartmouth engineer. Throughout his time at Dartmouth, he has consistently demonstrated his commitment to taking on complex engineering challenges — but also to creating a Thayer where every student can thrive.
In addition to serving as a student leader, an undergraduate advisor, and teaching assistant, Joshua has earned numerous engineering accolades. In 2019, he was part of a Dartmouth team selected by the National Academy of Engineering to represent the United States at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in London.
Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Joshua attended Dartmouth as a QuestBridge Scholar, a program that matches exceptional high school students from low-income backgrounds to the nation’s top colleges.
Tomorrow, Joshua will be the first in his family to earn a college degree. Please welcome Joshua De La Cruz.
Remarks by Joshua De La Cruz '22:
Thank you, Dean Abramson, for the kind introduction! I am truly delighted to have the honor to speak to you all today.
If someone would have told me four years ago that I would be standing here, giving this speech, I definitely wouldn’t have believed them. My Dartmouth experience has taught me so much along the way, but I think the greatest lesson I have learned throughout my time here is how to face my challenges directly. This is because my experiences has been riddled with so many "firsts" like — being the first in my family to attend a four year university, traveling to the east coast and other parts of the country for the first time, taking a really hard engineering class and discovering my first true passion, navigating college coursework and projects over zoom for the first time, and so much more. It's easy to say that there have been many trials and tribulations throughout my four years here, and I know many of the same experiences I have had are shared by my peers as well. Yet, despite these first obstacles, we have seen the unique experience a liberal arts college can bring to the life of an engineering student and that is what makes Thayer such a special community.
As a member of the 2022 graduating class, I want to reflect on our time at Dartmouth and Thayer specifically through an analogy that nearly all of us engineers, from BE to PhDs, will understand — and that's the engineering design process. Just so we are all on the same page, let's define the process in five simple steps:
Step 1: Define the challenge or problem you want to solve
Step 2: Brainstorm solutions to that problem
Step 3: Put the solutions to action
Step 4: Test the solutions using a model or an experiment
and most importantly,
Step 5: Reflect on your results, and try again if you fail.
Subconsciously or not, this process has dictated so many of the choices we have all made — not only academically but in life in general. I know that for me, this is the process I had to apply vigorously to get through some of my toughest classes. Cough cough….. Engs 23, 31, 89/90,... basically everything after the prereqs. And, let's not even mention Chem 5 or Physics 13/14.
Now, all jokes aside, the unique characteristic that I see in the engineering design process that many others might not, is that it is fearless by nature, and by that, I mean that if you fail in addressing or solving your challenge — the system is made for you to try again. A mentor of mine once told me that the word fear actually stands for an acronym: FEAR (False Evidence that Appears Real). As engineers, we decided to study a science that is evidence-driven, and so if fear is false evidence lets eliminate that factor from our model of life.
Tomorrow, when we receive our degrees, that piece of paper hanging on the wall should remind you that no matter what challenges you may face in your next chapter of life, you have been given a toolset to face them all. When you apply the engineering design process to your life's journey, Step 1 will define the problem you need to solve as "how do I navigate life." What you'll find is the iterative nature of step 5 won't lead you to any kind of "success" but it will help you determine what is most important to you and what purpose you want to have in this life.
Our generation, as a whole, will be tackling some of the most difficult challenges humanity has ever faced including climate change, food insecurity, international war, economic inequality, and many others. Yet, despite the overwhelming uncertainty in today's world, I challenge each and every one of us to lead fearlessly! Let us not be detracted from making an impact in the world because of perceived limitations imposed on you by yourself, by others, or by society. Think about how much you have accomplished so far, and how our preparation at Thayer has shaped us into engineers and scientists, capable of doing the hard work. When we face doubt, let us lean on the diversity of experiences and perspectives of ourselves and our peers, leverage our communities and connections, and remember that things that are worth it are not supposed to be easy.
As we go our separate ways, remember this mission statement. We are now the most capable and faithful. Thayer and Dartmouth have prepared us for the most responsible positions and most difficult service. Let us use this and the tools of engineering that we have been given as motivation to lead fearlessly.
It has been an honor to be part of the 2022 graduating class, and I am excited to see the great accomplishments we will all make in the coming future.
Thank you, and congratulations graduates!