This U.C. Berkeley student’s moving graduation speech is going viral for all the right reasons
When a student named Angad Singh Padda was elected by his fellow students to speak at the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business graduation on May 15, he delivered a powerful (albeit unscripted) speech calling for unity across the globe.
According to the Haas School of Business website, Padda prepared for his speech by asking more than 70 classmates what mattered to them most, but never formally transcribed his remarks, which have earned praise from thousands. The 23-year-old tells A Plus he aimed to give a speech “centered on unity and peace, especially in light of the recent events.”
“I wanted to emphasize one particular strength — the focus on collective progress and social justice. Those particular values mean the world to my friends and classmates, and I wanted to speak about them,” he adds. “In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. gave an iconic speech on campus, and mentioned: ‘You (U.C. Berkeley students), in a real sense, have been the conscience of the academic community and our nation.’ In essence, that conscience, was the inspiration behind my speech.”
Padda, who is from Punjab, mentioned drug abuse was a problem he wanted to fix after losing two close friends to the disease, and soon realized his classmates had issues of their own they were equally passionate about and eager to remedy.
“Whenever there’s a kid in Oakland who can’t afford school, that’s a problem. Whenever climate change wipes out a species, that’s a problem. Whenever a Muslim woman gets bullied because of her hijab, or a Jewish man because of his yarmulke, or a Sikh man because of his turban, that is a problem,” Padda, who is Sikh, told the audience.
“We all care about prosperity for everyone. That is who we are.” he continued. “We want to use our education to go beyond ourselves, to make the world a better place, we want to unify this world.”
Though Padda tells APlus he hasn’t faced any racial discrimination personally, he’s well aware it’s a global problem and has hope that it’s one (of many) we can someday rectify. In his speech he mentioned a village in India called Shani Shingnapur, where the houses exist without doors because the villagers believe we are all one.
He told the audience the village is void of theft, robbery, and violence, and asked the class of 2017: “What if all of us can use our education to create a world just like that village?”
“There would be no walls or borders, none. In that world, there would be no Muslim ban, nobody would call the other person bad hombres. That is the world we have to create,” he said as the audience applauded. “Our dream is to create a world where we are all one.”
The poignant call for unity Padda made in his speech has clearly struck a chord with people all over the world. He tells us the speech has been shared by over 50,000 people and has received more than 5 million views on various media platforms, and adds, “The reaction was extremely humbling. People have been very loving and kind, and I’m truly indebted.”
Padda, who accepted a job at J.P. Morgan as an investment banker, ultimately wants his speech to inspire others to feel hopeful. “There is always hope. There is light at the end of every tunnel, and we can’t give up,” he tells us. “Yes, times are tough right now, but we need to keep working to create a unified world. In the words of President Obama: ‘Yes, we can.’”
By A Plus’ SAMANTHA LEFFLER