Commencement speaker Zanir Habib

Image credit: Will Kirk / Homewood Photography

Commencement 2019

'The world is waiting to see what answers we come up with'

Video and full text of remarks by senior class president Zanir Habib

Remarks as delivered by Johns Hopkins University senior class president Zanir Habib at the universitywide Commencement ceremony on May 23, 2019.

Good afternoon. My name is Zanir J. Habib and as my classmates know—I'm fond of saying, that's Zanir like in exonerate, but not spelled that way.

On behalf of the Class of 2019, I want to thank the many people who have helped us reach this moment. Thank you to our mentors, parents, guardians, faculty, and staff. None of us would be here if it wasn't for your support and guidance—thank you so much. (Lead applause)

As a class, we've had a pretty good time—we had covered grades, we saw the Chainsmokers in concert, and we've survived everything from snowstorms to summer nights in the AMRs.

And although future classes will have a new student center, our student center will forever and always be the library.

My own Hopkins experience was shaped by many things, but what stands out the most are the people: my friends, my classmates, and all the other bright, hardworking, and dedicated individuals I met, from Orientation to Commencement. I can't imagine spending late nights or lazy Sunday afternoons with anyone else.

Sadly, not all of our classmates are here today to celebrate with us. Evelyn Feeney, a member of the Class of 2019, passed away during our time at Hopkins. She will forever be in our memories.

As students, we're told that an education—at Johns Hopkins, no less—is a privilege ... and a responsibility. A responsibility to give back, to make the world a better place. But we're really never told how.

Commencement speaker Zanir Habib

Image credit: Will Kirk / Homewood Photography

Throughout our lives, we're told how to get into college, how to get into med school, how to get a job. But how do we use this newfound responsibility? How do we use our education for the good of humanity?

There are the easy answers. Plant a garden. Give to charity.

So then, what are the hard answers? How do we create long-term, sustainable change? Restructure society to fight climate change? Curb hate, ignorance, systemic injustice?

Students outside the arena
Commencement 2019
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I don't know. But I do know one thing for sure. As Hopkins grads, it is these types of questions, these types of problems, that we are built to solve. And it is these types of problems we must seek to solve.

So whether you use what you learned in discrete math, the ideas you explored in your research lab, or the conversations you had at FFC late night, don't shy away from the hard questions. The world is waiting to see what answers we come up with.

Thank you very much.