I am very excited to join you today at this inaugural commencement ceremony for the very first cohort of graduates from San Diego State University-Georgia.
I would first like to thank President Zourabichvili and Education Minister Batiashvili for their presence here. Your government’s continued support of this innovative project has been essential to its success.
I also want to extend my thanks to SDSU President de la Torre. The fact that you’ve taken the time to come all this way to be with us today is a testament to your commitment to this program and bodes well for its future.
Special thanks also go to Chargé d’Affaires Rood for all the support the U.S. Embassy has provided, and to Magda Magradze, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account-Georgia, the entity responsible for implementing MCC’s programs in this country.
And to our graduates and your families and friends – welcome!
The graduation of this first class of SDSU-Georgia students is an important milestone in the unique partnership between the U.S. Government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Government of Georgia, and San Diego State University.
MCC’s presence in Georgia over the last 15 years has been an integral part of the U.S. – Georgia strategic partnership.
What began when we signed our first compact with Georgia back in 2005 has blossomed into a long and fruitful collaboration.
We began developing our second compact more than five years ago, and together with the Government of Georgia determined that investments in education, and specifically in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, could help promote economic growth by boosting the earning potential of the country’s citizens and better aligning their skills with the needs of businesses.
SDSU-Georgia which began with funding from MCC’s STEM Higher Education Project and co-financing from the Government of Georgia, quickly became the most prestigious university in the country and it remains so today.
The program began with a vision to offer young men and women like you here today the chance to earn internationally accredited degrees in STEM fields right here in Georgia.
That vision is now a reality, with more than 500 students now enrolled in the program.
A STEM education opens the door to a fulfilling career, and each of you have seized this chance to gain a world-class education in fields that are ripe with opportunities.
The fact that 20 percent of you are graduating today summa cum laude shows that you have pursued your education with the kind of seriousness and dedication that will serve you well in your careers to come.
SDSU is a pioneer in providing transformative education for students in research, international experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship. Their partnership in this project has brought that value to a culturally rich region of the world with a bright future.
Each of you graduating from this program today can be very proud of what you have accomplished, and SDSU and the Government of Georgia can be proud of what their work to advance STEM education. I know MCC certainly is.
Graduates, as you close this chapter of your lives and move on to the next, I encourage you to stay focused, have fun, and never stop learning. You will soon have new opportunities and more decisions in front of you. Use those opportunities to take control of your future and pursue your dreams.
Thank you once again for the chance to celebrate this special day with all of you. I wish each of you the best of luck.