Khaw receives honorary degree, urges graduates to 'take that first step'

Dr. Ban-An Khaw in his lab.Ban-An Khaw developed his enthusiasm for scientific discovery as “a fresh-off-the-boat foreign student” at SUNY Oswego, the distinguished medical researcher  told students at the college’s 148th Commencement afternoon ceremony May 16.


Remarks of Ban-An Khaw, Class of 1969,
on receiving an honorary doctorate of science from the State University of New York
at the 148th Commencement of SUNY Oswego, May 16, 2009


Provost Coultrap-McQuin, members of the College Council, members of the Platform Party and Commencement Speaker Robin Chase, the 2009 graduation class, friends and families of State Univeristy of New York at Oswego, I wish to express my gratitude as I humbly accept this honor.

Although Present Stanley is not here today, I wish to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for her role in the almost miraculous transformation of this campus, academically as well as infrastructurally, as well as for her unwavering support and recognition of alumni successes. Thank you, President Stanley.

The solid education that I received here at Oswego enabled me to compete head to head with graduates of renowned educational institutions. The name of the institution on your diploma or on mine could be of help, but it is what one does with the education that the diploma represents that is what ultimately matters.

Oswego has given you the same opportunity that she had given me 40 years ago. You have the world and the future in front of you, as I had way back then. Take the first step, jump, run, even stumble, but take that first step towards whatever your hearts and minds desire. Your four years at Oswego will serve you well, way beyond your imagination.

I came to this campus 42 years ago as a “fresh-off-the-boat” foreign student. Today I return, a lot older, and possibly a little wiser, but still very enthusiastic about the immense potential for new medical discoveries that might add another drop of hope towards a cure for a disease afflicting mankind.

This enthusiasm for scientific discovery was born in the classrooms and the libraries on this campus. In my time, there were two libraries, not one. I remember, growing plants in Piez Hall and turning boulders in the freezing waters of a stream at the environmental research center collecting whatever that moved. I was hoping to net a crayfish. I heard about it but never saw one. All we caught were bugs and near frostbite. I enjoyed my philosophy classes in Sheldon and the discussions that ensued, but my wise philosopher uncle Dr. Antonio Cua, the then-chair of the philosophy department here at Oswego, advised me to stick to science. Thank you, uncle.

At this time, I wish to pass on to you the advice my grandfather gave me when I left Burma in pursuit of education. He said, “Education is the only thing no one can take away from you.” You have worked for it, you have acquired it and now you are ready to use it. Use what you have learned at Oswego with compassion, understanding, tolerance and common sense and we will all make this world a better place.

Congratulations, Class of 2009.

And thank you, Oswego!


Robin Chase’s address at SUNY Oswego’s 148th Commencement

(Posted: May 15, 2009)

Tags: alumni