2019 Commencement Speech by Subir Chowdhury at Central Michigan University



please join me in welcoming super Chad ray good morning I love Central's energy the first night I spent in America I spent in Mount Pleasant Michigan I'd flown from my home in Bangladesh to Thailand then to Taiwan then to Seattle to Detroit to Lansing just to save some money for the affair then I caught a ride to Mount Pleasant and my new University it was August 1991 and I barely had even a penny in my pocket I came here for a master's degree and the department where I wanted to study say there was a fellowship waiting and had told me to arrive two weeks early I arrived two weeks early to impress my professor IQ my bags in my room going to see the professor this professor looked at me and said he was supposed to come next week I said yes sir I came one week all to impress him he looked at me and said she bear unfortunately I selected someone else for the fellowship I looked at him and I said sir you cannot do that I cried I shouted I cried more still there is no a scholarship the next day other international students tried to help they understood my situation they suggested I get a off-campus job but I did not have a work visa and to get a off-campus job would be legal I was in America for education but I did not have any money to register for my classes so what I did I began knocking doors I went to every single academic department to earn a scholarship I went to sociology I went to journalism Ivan went to English department telling them I'm so good in English after many departments when I'm almost at the end of the row I knocked the door of mathematics the chill dr. Richard Fleming listened to my story he said you went to 20 departments and now it is the 21st one so if I say no to you what do you do I said I'd go to the 22nd then you look at me and he said can you do research on polymer science I told the professor said I can do in any topic I graduated from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur with a degree in aerospace engineering so any topic I can master and he gave me a chance I selected for I was selected for dau fellowship I'd always be grateful to dr. lily Rakesh who is present here today for making this possible the fellowship paid for my entire education and in 1993 if I graduated with a master's degree and I earned their work for the best this is the world from the Graduate School the faculty wanted me to stay and work for the PhD but I wanted to go out and I wanted to become the number one in my field I wanted to be the world's top management expert on quality my professor was very disappointed so I told the professor don't worry about me maybe the day will come when I own have to earn a PhD and instead central will give me an honorary doctorate here I am [Applause] [Applause] president Davis proposed and member of the Board of Trustees faculties it is a tremendous honor be with you this morning graduates and Families thank you for allowing me to be part of your special day like you I am a CMU graduate now it's twice now with my doctorate I shared my story for a reason it is about making choices graduates the choice you make after today will shape your life the lives of people around you because I'm little older than you I wanted to share some stories about how to make those choices my business is in quality I helped some of the biggest organizations in the world achieved the best and together we do meaningful work when I was a CMU student I did not understand the word quality or what it meant to business world so I joined the organization professional society called American Society for quality and paid $10 to become a student member and then I taught myself about quality when I graduated I told my professors that they will come America's top business schools and engineering schools will teach my book on quality it sounded kind of arrogant I was young maybe I was little arrogant too but guess what five years later those universities were teaching my book within ten years I was recognized as the world's top expert in quality [Applause] but I still say I'm the dumbest guy in the room two college degrees and there is a stealin lot I need and want to learn in social media error we preferably spend more time with our devices than with our parents and grandparents and loved ones when I was a little boy there is no iPhones or even computers so I spent more time with my grandparents now I feel how lucky I was my grandfather was a very important person in my life he was an elementary school teacher in one of the poorest of the poor countries in the world but he was rich with wisdom he was always teaching me about choices he would say should be zero or nine out of those two numbers which is more powerful zero benign which one is more powerful I was five years old of course I would answer nine is more powerful and every time my grandfather would say no zero is the most powerful and I say grandpa why you tell me zero on its own has low value but as soon as you put a number in front of it it becomes del graduates always remember you alone are dead zero and it is okay to be a zero without other human beings you will never be a whole when you become successful and each of you can make an important difference remember that other people help you succeed today is a huge accomplishment for you you have achieved something many people don't have a college diploma and you should be very proud but you did not do this yourself by yourself no one does you had your professors and friends you had parents and grandparents you have brothers and sisters I know I did my mom did not want me to leave for America my father encouraged me they both acted out of love and that love guided me graduates used today to hug your grandparents and parents and the loved ones remember their love and support and always share your happiness with them the people who support us are the number in thought of death zero the people who support us are the number in front of that zero they give us value I'm very fortunate to have some of those friends and colleagues that made a difference in my life to be present here today in the galleries here and thank you all for your love [Applause] so this is my first piece of advice always choose to be a zero when I left central I often hurt my grandfather's voice in my head he used to tell me if I asked you to touch the ceiling or touch the sky which one are you going to touch again I was a little boy I would say oh that's real easy let me touch the ceiling no he'd say always try to touch the sky I said grandpa why touching the ceiling is very easy he would say anybody can do it but if you have a goal to touching the sky you will always go higher graduates being good enough should be your starting point not your finish touching the ceiling is very easy push yourself and go higher reach for more with your job with your family with your community and you will be rewarded this is my second piece of advice always choose to touch the sky you will achieve so much more than you ever imagined this bring to my final story and final is the word people always like hearing a speech my grandfather used to give me a pen any coin a pen and a coin you place them in my hand and tells me should we choose one of the two they're not the coin so I would always pick the coin and because of the coin I could go to a store no my grandfather would say choose the pan he said if you choose the pan then you can change the world but if you choose the coin you will buy chocolate a toy then coin will be gone and he also told me that if you choose the pen you can write draw create and somebody appreciate your work the coins will follow and you will join you will have so many coins in your pocket simple but very profound as a boy I used to I used the pen to write letters to my heroes who wrote me back some of them even became my mentors as an adult I used to pen to share ideas for making the world a better place graduates choosing the pan means giving yourself permission to be greedy the pen is innovation the pen is initiative it is far more value than than money use your central Michigan Education and choose the pan and you will have millions of coins the choice is yours [Applause] use your DVD money will follow I promise you you will have so many coins you will have to give some away I did perhaps you will give money to your local library or a charitable organization you love maybe you will even give some to CMU I face the choice when I first landed in Mount Pleasant Michigan and I learned there is no scholarship for me here in Mount Pleasant I traveled 8,000 miles I was broke people told me to forget it school to get a job even though it was against the law but I heard my grandfather's voice ignored the quick coins that come from a temporary job choose the pension bill be creative knock on the doors now until a door opens and you find the scholarship that guarantees an education and I get I could stand here all morning and tell you stories I intentionally choose the stories of my grandfather because anything I've done in my business or my life some of the teaching my grandfather did shaped my life to use this principle these are very universal principle so I think that you don't want that to tell your stories of their stories you want to celebrate and you should instead I've shared my latest book the difference which is a book les stories and it is my graduation gift to you I hope it inspires you just as my teachers and students friends and family colleagues and times inspired me my grandfather was my greatest teacher he induced the life of a little boy in Bangladesh who would come to find great success and happiness Here I am on the other side of the globe sharing his lessons ba0 reach for the sky choose the pen over the coin and now this grandson because of education and hard work and because of a humble wise grandfather is encouraging you graduates all of us believe you are going to change lives it is your turn and your choice to make a positive difference in the world be a zero reach for the sky choose the pen over the coin constellation class of 2019 fire up chips thank you again [Applause]

36 thoughts on “2019 Commencement Speech by Subir Chowdhury at Central Michigan University

  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Great speech Subir !!! Congratulations !!!

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Thank you Subir for sharing your story, your work, and your impact. Dr. Rakesh told me all about you, and I was hoping to meet you at Central Michigan but was unable to make it over there. I also owe my personal story to Dr. Rakesh, as she is still very instrumental in my life. I am very inspired by your story and it shows how much of an impact, making a critical and correct choice at the right time can make in a person's story. We should always be vigilant, looking for more opportunities to inspire and help others, and making the right choices just like Subir.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Beautiful inspiring speech! Each of us can change the world.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Thank you for the inspiration sir.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Great speech, full of inspiration and motivation.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    We,the Bangladeshi, are proud of you.

    Much love from Chottagram💜

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    proud of you sir. congratulation from Bangladesh.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    This is a wonderful speech…

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    A praiseworthy inspiration. The way you describe your story learned from your Grandpa is the most precious and incessant source of inspiration for the dreamers. I really appreciate your story you have chosen to ignite the dreamy minds.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Dear sir, its really really valuable advice for us. I'm also from BD. Pray for us that we can aslo change the world. Grand pas advice also best ever best advice. Today i read it twice on Prothom alo. And now i get u on Youtube. Thanking you.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    you were lucky too.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Sir thank you for sharing your story…..

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    I watch this find it motivating.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Definitely pen

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    I am speechless. Inspiring story.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Thank you for these grateful word

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    A lot of Stoic wisdom in this speech. Thank you for your wisdom

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Very touching

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Imagine how intelligent you need to be to do this speech just naturally

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    I am glad that I stumbled upon this video.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    No matter what, don't give up!!

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Probably one of the best speech I have ever heard.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Definitly, I will choose Pen, not the coin

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    today finding out a great vidro on you sir.

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    WE HAVE TO FOLLOW HIS VERY VERY IMPORTENT SPEECH IN OUR LIFE ,

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    This is absolutely awesome! Thank you very much for such powerful words

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    he is so kind and humble, a simple man

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Subir Chowdhury sir Inspiring People ❤️

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  • June 14, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    Be excellent-People notice excellence Let excellence be your

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