Words of advice by Güler Sabancı to new graduates

Sabancı University Founding Board of Trustees Chair Güler Sabancı spoke at the Sabancı University Commencement Ceremony, giving advice to new graduates.

Dear Alumni,

Dear Faculty Members,

Valuable parents and guests,


On behalf of Sabancı University Board of Trustees, welcome to our Fifteenth Undergraduate and eighteenth Graduate Commencement Ceremony.



  • Today is an exciting day for us all.
  •  We are here to celebrate the success of our youth.
  • Before I begin, I would like to remember and thank everyone who made great efforts for our university and our precious students. 
  • Sabancı University is the greatest achievement of the Sabancı Foundation, which has been working for the social development of Turkey for 43 years with the magnanimous support of the Sabancı Family. 
  • I would like to thank the Sabancı Family and the Sabancı Foundation once more for their support. 
  • I would also like to remember with great gratitude our Honorary Chairman, the late Sakıp Sabancı, who believed that a better future for Turkey lay in a well-educated and well-trained youth,  
  • and ensured the establishment of our university with his creative and positive personality, understanding, and endeavoring spirit. 

Dear parents, 

  • You believed in our university, trusted us with your children, and made great sacrifices for them. You deserve thanks for your trust and support. 
  • Congratulations on the success of your children. 
  • Our faculty, led by our President, Professor Ayşe Kadıoğlu, went to great efforts to ensure that your children grew up to be knowledgeable individuals with sensibilities. I would like to thank them on behalf of us all. 
  • I would also like to express my gratitude to the members of our Board of Trustees, 
  • Secretary-General Haluk Bal and the entire administrative staff for their exceptional support in all processes, 
  • Ayhan Sicimoğlu and friends for making our commencement ceremonies breathtaking memories, 
  • And last but not least, Yekta Kara and the commencement committee for another excellent commencement ceremony.


Dear Youth, 

  • Today is your day. 
  • You are at an important turning point for your lives ahead of you. 
  • You join the thousands of Sabancı University alumni to date. 
  • You have worked and you have succeeded in completing a difficult phase. 
  • A new era begins today, and I wish you all success in it." 
  • While having talent, competence and knowledge is the start of the road to success, luck also plays a part in it. 
  • Louis Pasteur said, "Fortune favors the prepared mind. 
  • And you are already mentally prepared.  

Dear Youth,  

  • As you are well aware, we are living through great changes.
    • While the transformative and disruptive effects of science and technology, from artificial intelligence to robots, are felt in every aspect of our lives, they also extend the average life expectancy of humans.                                                 
  • Our median age is 24 for undergraduate students and 30 for graduate students. 
  • This may sound too long to you, but barring any unexpected circumstances, you will live to be 100. 
  • Your middle age will be at around 50 to 55, while retirement is expected at 75. 
  • Therefore, you need to make longer-term plans compared to previous generations. 
  • You must constantly develop your resources of knowledge and competency, and plan yourself for a life of 100 years.
  • In the agricultural society, one could live a lifetime on the knowledge they inherited from their parents only. 
  • Going to university was enough for finding a good job and cruising until a comfortable retirement in the industrial age. 
  • Today, however, no school can give you the knowledge that an individual will need for life. 
  • The knowledge and competencies taught in schools can only be foundations for your careers in business. 
  • That is why I expect you to find your way back to Sabancı University in the future. 
  • You will work for more than 50 years, having enough time for 2 or 3 different careers.

 Considering the wealth of experiences that would bring, it is impossible to transfer an exhaustive body of advice or experience to the younger generations. 

  • However, successful people have one thing in common that never changes: their perspective on the world, or their attitudes. 
  • They consult; they question; they inquire.
  • They do their homework.
  • They approach things with an open mind.
  • They are constructive and solution-oriented.
  • They plan their resources well, and they focus on getting results. 
  • But most important of all, successful people always strive to improve the capabilities and possibilities given to them. 
  • This perspective includes being open to learning, enthusiastic to reinvent or develop oneself, and being diverse in capabilities. 
  • There is also the propensity to view life as a journey in learning, development and maturation, where one always develops and goes further. 
  • Because they know one thing very well: what matters is not what you have today, but what you choose to do with it. 
  • What you encounter is less important than how you handle it. 
  • If you look at life with a mindset that is focused on development, you can go beyond what has been provided to you. 
  • Remember that your success and happiness will be defined by how you build on top of what you have today. 
  • The good news is that you have been raised at Sabancı University with the necessary competencies and this mindset. 
  • We at Sabancı University aimed to help our students acquire a mindset that is focused on development. 
  • You did not merely learn a science or a profession.  
  • You were raised to become individuals who:
    • Adopt unchanging universal values such as human rights, equality and rule of law,
    • Have common sense,
    • Believe in the power of knowledge,
    • And can manage their feelings with conscience and consciousness.
    • You learned about lifelong learning. 
  • The values and competencies you have acquired here will light your way in whatever path in life that you will follow.


Dear Youth, 

  • We can see even today that artificial intelligence will transform work and business as we know it, and will shake the roots of social equilibrium. 
  • We can foresee that in 20 years, many of the professions and jobs available today will be done by robots, or learning machines.  
  • However, what sets sentient beings apart from robots is emotions. 
  • And what sets humans apart from other species is their awareness of emotions and their ability to manage them. 
  • That is the reason why no robot or artificial intelligence is able to replace human consciousness. 
  • In an age when humanoid robots are being built, you must (absolutely!) avoid becoming roboticized humans.  
  • In the new social order that awaits you, you must be aware of your emotions and work on how to manage them. 
  • Make your feelings an integral part of your thinking and reasoning.
  • Your consciousness and conscience will be your greatest advantages in competition. 
  • At this stage, my advice is regardless of what job you do, you must love it and want to do it. 
  • Your measure of success cannot be money alone. 
  • To do this, the work you do should have a purpose that goes beyond it. 
  • Money is of course important, and every human is entitled to enjoy the comforts of life, but none of those are the true measures of success in one's life. 
  • People remember you not by how much money you make, but how you spend it. 
  • I will also recommend the book 'Başarı Şimdi Aslanın Ağzında' by the late Sakıp Sabancı. 
  • As we say our goodbyes, there is one thing I want you to remember: "True wealth and true success is the positive effect we have on people's lives." 
  • May you have a long and prosperous life. 
  • And always remember your alma mater!