Celebrated alumnus Chamath Palihapitiya urged graduates at the recent Waterloo Engineering virtual convocation to seize the moment in tumultuous times and change the world for the better.
In a nearly eight-minute video address, the former Facebook executive and Social Capital founder said it is up to young people to finally fix the systemic racism and injustice that have sparked protests around the world.
“You are graduating at a moment when you are the most important you have ever been,” Palihapitiya (BASc ’99, electrical engineering) said in the informal but impassioned message. “We are a world that is at a crossroads and that crossroads is really about an entire generation of people who need to, frankly, … step aside for you.”
Despite current social and political upheaval, Palihapitiya said he is optimistic about the future because there is an enormous number of young people and they have “moral and ethical clarity” around equality that previous generations did not.
He told graduates at the virtual event - which will be followed by an in-person convocation when the COVID-19 crisis allows - to stubbornly hold on to their beliefs and resist pressure to become sellouts.
“The world needs you,” Palihapitiya said. “We need you to set a better example.”