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Graduates of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s master’s, doctoral, and nurse anesthesia programs go forth with “gwenchana”

Christian Chung
Christian Chung (Photo courtesy of Christian Chung)

At the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s 2024 Commencement Ceremony for the master’s, doctoral, and nurse anesthesia programs, the word of the day was “gwenchana.”

“Today, I want to teach a lesson in Korean language,” said Christian Chung, a graduate of the master of science in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine program, who was selected by the Class of 2024 to give one of two student commencement speeches at the ceremony. “In many cases, people view gwenchana as something you say for reassurance as a response. Gwenchana simply means ‘it’s okay’ or ‘I am fine.’”

With this concept in mind, Chung went on to share three reflections on his journey at USC.

First, he reminded his fellow graduates that “we are all just kids trying to figure out life’s complexities.” Even after graduating with impressive master’s and doctoral degrees from the esteemed Keck School, Chung entreated the Class of 2024 not only to remain young at heart, but also to embrace the uncertainty of not knowing some things and needing to seek guidance from others, especially parents.

Secondly, he assured his peers that “everyone here is successful,” and shared his personal definition of success.

“Success is waking up every morning and coming to class even when it was difficult,” he said. “Success is going to the gym even though you did not feel like it. … Success is all the times you encountered failure. And more importantly, success is being able to overcome the days we struggled the most.”

Lastly, he encouraged everyone to embrace the very timely word of the day: gwenchana.

“These past few years have been a testament to our resilience in the face of adversity. We have battled through a global pandemic, tackled social injustices, and have had our fair share of personal challenges to overcome,” he said. “The unknown craziness of life is a constant. As much as I would like to give an optimistic perspective that the future will be full of sunshine and rainbows, the reality is that we will continually be challenged. But everything will be okay. You will be okay.”

To strengthen their sense of gwenchana in these uncertain times, Chung advised the Class of 2024 to lean on the support of the Trojan Family—a network of more than 450,000 alumni around the globe.

“I am here for you. Your classmates are here for you. We don’t pride ourselves on having a Trojan Family without a reason, right?” he said. “And as I like to say, ‘Gwenchana.’”