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Embarking “On the Path of Peace”

Soka University of America graduates the Class of 2018.

Soka University of America celebrates the achievements of the Class of 2018, Aliso Viejo, Calif., May 25. Photo by DAN GRAHAM.

by Martin Saito

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., May 25—Ten years ago, Soka University of America (SUA) students composed the official student song, “On the Path of Peace,”
in an effort to forge unity among their classmates. In its chorus are the lines “Our footsteps in the present will be paths of peace one day.”

SUA President Daniel Y. Habuki pointed to these lyrics in his opening remarks at the school’s 2018 commencement ceremony on May 25. “These so-
called ‘footsteps’ are all of your efforts day by day,” he said, reminding the graduates to have patience and endurance as they take flight into the next chapter of their lives.

Dr. Habuki added: “There may be times when you want to give up, but please remember your second home, SUA, and the friendships you made as your ‘Light of Hope.’ ”[1]Soka University of America Founder Daisaku Ikeda wrote the song “Light of Hope” to commemorate SUA’s 10th anniversary.

Hailing from 21 countries, the 89 undergraduate students and seven graduate students (from the master’s program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change) received their diplomas at the school’s state-of-the-art Soka Performing Arts Center.

“Bring out the goodness in human life.”

In a poignant message, SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda encouraged the students to always uphold hope, sincerity and unrelenting tenacity.
He recalled an important discussion he had with Joseph Rotblat—a signer of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto and Nobel Peace Prize laureate—who delivered a lecture at SUA in 2001.

Dr. Rotblat emphasized to the founder that his belief “in the goodness of human beings more than anything else” was what had driven his efforts for peace for 60 years.

“In other words, he was able to forge on in his challenges without relinquishing optimism precisely because he embraced a philosophy that held that human beings are intrinsically good,” Dr. Ikeda said. “Let us bring forth this goodness from within ourselves and others, and let us continue to do so throughout our lives with vigor, wisdom and joy! My happiness lies in all of you becoming happy.”

Dare to “make this world a better place than you found it.”

The commencement address was delivered by Susi Snyder, who received SUA’s Highest Award of Honor. Ms. Snyder is the Nuclear Disarmament Program Manager for the Netherlands-based peace organization PAX, and also serves as a member of the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

In the pursuit of “every dream and every hope,” Ms. Snyder emphasized that she has faced backlash from those who push for the opposite. “I’m not going to lie,” she said, “it sometimes takes a lot to keep focused, to keep working hard, to keep articulating what I see to be as truth—what I see as possible for this world and to keep smiling and laughing along the way.”

Ms. Snyder then delivered her clarion call to the graduates: “To maintain hope for the world, hope that we will in fact live in the world that we dream of, to keep our eyes on that prize, we need to be daring. The way I dare is to believe that you, graduates, are going to make this world a better place than you found it. That is what I hope for you, and that is a challenge I dare you to take on.”

“Together, everyone achieves more.”

Amanda Boralessa, of Framingham, Massachusetts, was named this year’s Founders Award recipient, the university’s highest honor for a graduating student.

Preandra Lika Noel, of Corona, California, was among the four student speakers. She shared that it was the compassion and camaraderie of her classmates that gave her courage and strength when she lost her mother to cancer last year.

“My friendships, the most precious gift that I am taking away from my under-graduate experience, were at the heart of solidifying the foundation for my happiness,” she said.

“We, the Class of 2018, have showed actual proof during our time here—that together, everyone achieves more.”

Ayumi Inoue contributed to this report.

About Soka University of America

Daisaku Ikeda established Soka University of America on May 3, 2001, as a four-year, nonsectarian undergraduate liberal arts school grounded in the humanistic ideals of Soka, or value-creating education. Its mission is to “foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life.”

Today, SUA is ranked No. 39 among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2018 rankings. This year, the university also placed No. 1 for faculty resources and foreign student factor, and No. 2 in ethnic diversity among national liberal arts colleges. ranks SUA No. 1 in “Best Colleges for the Money Nationwide.”

SUA offers generous full-tuition Soka Opportunity Scholarships, available to eligible admitted students whose annual family income is $60,000 or less.

For more information about the university, visit

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Notes   [ + ]

1. Soka University of America Founder Daisaku Ikeda wrote the song “Light of Hope” to commemorate SUA’s 10th anniversary.