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Commencement 2021: 25 students from 11 nations earn master's degrees in Global Business Journalism

The COVID-19 pandemic may have complicated their studies, but they endured.

The Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication honored 25 students from 11 nations on June 25 for successfully completing their master's studies in Global Business Journalism. The commencement was marked with a pair of ceremonies: a hybrid journalism school commencement on Tsinghua's Great Lawn, with most international students participating by Tencent video feed, and a Global Business Journalism celebration conducted via Zoom.

"I commend you for your adaptability and your hard work," Global Business Journalism program co-director Rick Dunham told the graduates who were participating from across five continents. "Despite our distance, I believe we have made personal and professional connections that will benefit all of us for years to come. And I believe the journalism, business and critical thinking skills you have learned during your time in the GBJ program will make you better journalists or better professionals in any field you choose."

Natalie Meyer of Australia was honored as the outstanding graduate of the 2021 class for her exceptional journalism portfolio, consistent academic excellence and volunteer extracurricular activities. Nico Gous of South Africa was selected as the best master's portfolio for his series of news stories about the impact of the China-based short video app TikTok on South African culture. The best thesis award was shared by Fumie Yamazaki of Japan and Rui Qin (Rachael) Neo of Singapore. Two Chinese students, Dai Run Tao and Wang Yu Gang, shared the GBJ Contribution Award for their extraordinary dedication to the program as teaching assistants.

The graduates' Chinese supervisors congratulated them via live video hook-up from the Tsinghua campus. GBJ professor Lee Miller, a senior editor at Bloomberg News, spoke to the students from Bangkok, Thailand, Professor Dunham spoke from his home in Arlington, Virginia, and co-director Hang Min addressed the graduates from Beijing.

"I wish all of our graduates good luck and I wish you a happy journey ahead," Professor Hang said.

The international graduates praised the program for his multicultural nature, diverse student body and caring faculty.

"I'm so glad to have chosen this program, worked with so many wonderful and talented people, and learned from professors who represent journalism expertise in China," said Xin Yi (Stella) Zhang of Canada,

Fumie Yamazaki said the program "allowed me to broaden my horizons and meet many friends from all over the world."

Hai Lin (Helen) Wang of Canada, whose thesis research focused the work of an environmental non-governmental organization in China, said the program's cross-cultural nature made her "challenge my own prejudices."

"I'm sure these two years of learning about the world through the lens of China and other cultures will continue to benefit me as I navigate the future," she said.

The 2021 graduates attended one semester of in-person classes on the Tsinghua campus before the coronavirus pandemic upended their schedules. The 2020 spring semester was conducted online and the 2021 semester featured hybrid learning, with 12 of the 14 international students attending classes and completing their master's theses remotely. Chinese students, along with international student Haroon Hayat of Pakistan, returned to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. Hai Lin Wang was based in Tianjin.

"While we have been miles apart, it is wonderful to have learned with such amazing and supportive classmates," said Rachael Neo.

Added Vivian Yuen, a graduate from the United States: "We have proved to be resilient through every obstacle."

Global Business Journalism international students and faculty are projected onto a large video screen as other students participate in person on the Tsinghua campus.

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