Stanford University April 4, 2004

One hundred thirteen years ago, when the Stanford family opened our wonderful University, my country Mongolia was one the most forgotten and backward nations in the world. It took a whole century and a decade for the first Mongolian national to study among the Stanford community.

stanford campus

I feel proud as well as sad to be the first Mongolian student to be here. Proud because I have discovered a whole new world of the highest achievement and commitment and sad because I cannot meet and personally thank the great founders of our University. Still, I cherish this moment because it gives us all an opportunity to pay tribute to those rare men and women who lived and worked here more than a hundred year ago.

I often imagine what it must have been like to invest, build and manage a brand new university in the wildest and most western part of America. It is not hard for me to imagine the smell of dust, wilderness of locality, noise of construction and silence of isolation of those historic first days of our University. It is easy to do so because we can still find such places around the world and can imitate the process if we wish. But it is so hard to imagine the energy of the individuals, their deepness of dedication, strength of courage and the magnitude of the vision that they embraced in their hearts as they built this great institution in those early days of California. It must have taken all the humanly love, all the ambitious dreams and all the extraordinary qualities of the most gifted and talented human beings to create one of the greatest universities that America has ever known – or every will know. Of this I am truly convinced.

From every stone placed in the campus, from notes in every single classroom, and from every record of our University’s proud history I sense a special character. It is the character of a strong willed, determined and ambitious individual who is ready to challenge existing distances, theories, beliefs, regimes and herself to make a better future for her world. I believe that it was the character of our founders. I also think that it takes the best of universal human characteristics and intellectual abilities to be able to build a greater world – one that gives hope to all the people. I am proud that Stanford, along with its rich history, has wonderful students, dedicated staff, superior professors and researchers that continue to make Stanford a symbol of the highest achievement in education, world wide.

Let me speak about myself for a moment longer. Nearly two hundred American and Mongolian donors and two scholarship committees made it possible for me to attend Stanford University. It was a sign of how much people value the uniqueness and importance of a Stanford education. For me and for the future of my country, the new ideas that I will be exposed to, new views of reality and new ways of resolution are regarded as an immeasurable asset to the development of our nation. My education is truly a gift. People believe that Stanford helps open doors not only for individuals but also for countries of the world, and I am in complete agreement.

As the doors open wider for each of us, thousands and thousands of Stanford students, many challenging new worlds arise on the horizon in science, in technology, in business and in politics and international affairs. Did the Stanford family imagine the immerse magnitude and far-reaching influence of their dreams when they first founded the University? I believe they did.

Today, if I were to transported to past, I would ask to be brought to the year eighteen eighty five or six, and to the exact coordination of the place where I am standing now. Then, under the blue sky and on a beautiful wild green field I would say “thank you” to Mr. and Mrs. Stanford for their dream that came true so wonderfully; and I would let them know just how much I admire them and how much their long-ago dream means to the future of my nation, Mongolia, as I return [with my Stanford degree] to my own land to help lead and build a democratic nation.

Thank you.