West Virginia University Statler College Alumnus, Rouzbeh Yassini, Ph.D. sent a message of opportunity and call to action to 2020 graduates as they attended their virtual graduation ceremony.

As graduation season unfolds, for the class of 2020 there is a perceptible sentiment of uncertainty and disappointment.

Perhaps you feel this unceremonious ending has robbed you of the closure of proper goodbyes, a medley of celebrations, the pomp and circumstance that ensured you would be recognized, rewarded, and remembered. This perception of an anticlimactic conclusion threatens to overshadow your 4 long years of the hard work, late hours, and accomplishment.

In truth, in this moment, the WVU Class of 2020 has been gifted an unprecedented opportunity to simultaneously impact the way we live and the way we work as we move forward.

For 10,000 years human civilization has innovated, culminating in the way of life you knew, understood, and enjoyed until a few short weeks prior to your graduation. But all that you have learned is not lost or diminished by a socially distanced graduation. In fact, all that you have learned and endured has prepared you for this exact moment. On this day of your graduation, you have been gifted the opportunity to carry the torch of innovation forward.  Your challenge is to create a world where we can live and work knowing we are safe and secure from the threat of another pandemic. You have the opportunity to innovate an interdisciplinary approach to every aspect of our economy and quality of life.

In class of 1981, I saw a similar challenge, “Can we change from an oil-based economy to a telecommuting based economy?”

My education at WVU and subsequent invention of the Cable Modem met that challenge and paved the path for Broadband connectivity for billions of users. Thanks to a challenge gifted in 1981 and a commitment to innovation, those billions of users have been able to continue to conduct business from their dining room table in their pajamas during a global pandemic.

I am excited for the WVU class of 2020 as you embrace a similar challenge, a real opportunity to innovate and influence the way we live and work moving forward. I challenge every one of you transform the disappointment of your 2020 virtual graduation into a vision focused on the work that will impact our civilization with innovative new tools.

Congratulations on your hard-earned graduation and best of luck carrying out your vision for the future.

Let’s Go Mountaineers!

Rouzbeh Yassini, PH.D.
Father of the Cable Modem
B.S. Electrical Engineering, West Virginia University, 1981