Graduation Address at the 1994 Spring Commencement of the College of Information Studies
University of Maryland at College Park

Peiling Wang

Dear Dean, Fellow Graduates, Professors, and Guests:

At this most important moment of my life, I am honored to stand in front of you and to share some of my experiences and thoughts with you.

Twenty-eight years ago, I was a sixth-grade student in Shanghai, China, and my only thoughts were of entering a good middle school. I was too naive to sense that something was very wrong in China, and I would never have imagined that soon my contemporaries and I would all be deprived of a regular education for the next eleven years. During those eleven years while I worked on a collective farm in Helongjiang for several years and I dreamed of many things, but never about receiving a Ph.D. degree. But even if I was born in the wrong time, I still count myself as one of the luckiest of all my unfortunate contemporaries. For in 1977, the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution in China finally ended as Deng Xiaoping came to power. Only then did I make my way to college and earned a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master's degree in Library & Information Science. Finally, to pursue a Ph.D. degree, I came to this land of opportunity and freedom. Despite all the difficulties, I have never been happier than I am now. I cannot find the words to express my appreciation to this great country, where I have the opportunity to hope and to strive for the best I can be.

The years which I spent in the University of Maryland at College Park as a doctoral student have brought the most rewarding experiences in my life: I learned my field of study in depth and was trained to conduct research. I developed professional connections and made many personal friends as well. And I directed the establishment of a well-equipped information center for the Dept. of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

My strong affection for the College of Library and Information Services became even deeper in 1991, when our Ph.D. program was recommended for elimination. That shocking message came after the closing of several of the most prestigious library schools in the country. Only through the tremendous efforts from the faculty, students, and outside supporters, did the program survive. I realized at that time that we are challenged by a dynamic and changing environment. Our discipline must go beyond the traditional library and librarian and take a multidisciplinary approach to develop new theories and methods that take advantage of advanced information technology. I am very happy to see that the College is growing ever stronger and moving vigorously towards this direction in its agenda. Very soon, I will be an alumna, and I will always try my best to repay this college for what it has given me.

To truly appreciate all the good times, I must remember all the frustrations I encountered in my journey toward the Ph.D. degree. It always seems to me that my ability never catches up with the demand placed on it and my biggest enemy is always time. However, the reward for work finally done (can I say well done?) is the opportunity to do more. I am looking forward to expanding my ability and to continuing my research. Now, please let me take the opportunity to express my gratitude to the professors, fellow doctoral students, Deans, and staff at the College for all the support I received during my study. In my homeland, there is a saying, [say it in Chinese]. Translated into English that means, "One should never forget her teachers." I owe much success to the professors in the college who have taught me about the field. But, I especially want to thank my advisor, Professor Soergel, for his confidence in my academic potential and his guidance throughout the program. I also want to thank Professor Earl Brown, who is here to participant in my graduation ceremony, for selecting me to establish the information center of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, where I also conducted my dissertation research. Finally, I must mention my father, who is in the audience today. He is the one who inspired me in my academic pursuits ever since I was a child.

Thank you!

[Delivered on May 19, 1994]